Arizona International Celebrates Graduating Global Wildcats
On Wednesday, May 10, 2023, as part of Commencement week, Arizona International hosted an International Students and Community Appreciation Reception at the Arizona Historical Society’s AZ History Museum, to celebrate the many achievements and contributions of our international community at the University of Arizona.
Guests included main campus international graduates, dual degree microcampus graduates, visiting international faculty and scholars, exchange students, family and friends. Senior university faculty and staff in attendance included Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Liesl Folks, Associate Vice President of International Affairs Daniel Palm, and Dean of International Education Dr. JP Jones.
In his opening remarks, Palm said, “We celebrate the achievements of our graduating international cohort – including main campus and internationally located dual degree as well as our Global Direct online students. We have 10 dual degree microcampus graduates who have traveled to be with us from the University of Phnom Phen, Cambodia, Sampoerna University, Jakarta, Indonesia, and UPC Lima, Peru. A special welcome to you – it is great to have you here.”
The Class of 2023 includes more than 770 students from over 60 countries. More than 500 have studied on campus in Tucson and 229 have pursued dual degrees at one of our global locations. These students are graduating across undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 120 majors and study areas.
Dean of International Education JP Jones spoke of his admiration for the graduating cohort, “Today our international community joins with us to celebrate the achievements of our graduates, who have met the unique challenges of studying through the pandemic, to successfully achieve their education goals. Congratulations to you all.”
Throughout the reception, attendees enjoyed a musical performance by internationally renowned guitarist and master's student in guitar performance at the University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music, Giovanni Accadia. Accadia has garnered numerous honors, including multiple first-place awards in competitions held in Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy. He also had the honor of being briefly accompanied in his performance by Wilbur and Wilma, who were on hand to interact with guests and pose for photos.
Graduating senior Maanyaa Kapur was invited to speak on behalf of the students. Kapur is graduating with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and has earned many achievements during her time at UArizona. To name just a few of her honors: Kapur was elected president of Society of Women Engineers University of Arizona section, she received the Helmut and Ellen Hof Scholarship, and was the graduation speaker at the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering convocation. She also worked with the OSIRIS-REx space mission, where she served as an intern for the Thermal Conductivity Experiment Engineering in the SPTAWG (Sample Physical and Thermal Analysis Working Group) of the Sample Return Team.
During her speech, Kapur compared her journey to and through the university to the plot of a movie: aspiring as a young girl to live the “American Dream,” striving for the academic success that would allow her to study in the United States, making the journey to a new country to pursue her passion for space sciences, and finally achieving her dream of graduating. However, she was quick to note that real life does not always imitate the movies:
“…that is because the movies do not show you the nitty gritty details of surviving an independent life miles and miles away from home, and in all honesty the reality is much harder than any fantasy movie, but the reality is also far more rewarding than any movie can convey.”
Kapur also extended her appreciation to all those who offered support and guidance during her time at UArizona. As international students, she asserted, they’ve had to be braver than their contemporaries and their accomplishments come in part due to the assistance of family, friends and support networks. “We couldn’t have done it without the amazing people we met here at the university…be it our professors, friends, clubs, department faculty or staff or everyone here at the international student services," she said. "If you think your role was small in these last 4 years… it wasn’t.”
Concluding the speeches, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Liesl Folks added her congratulations to graduates and spoke about the importance of welcoming and building communities that support people from all backgrounds. “The practice of welcoming others is at the core of building a truly global community. I'm inspired to see people from all over the world come together here at the University of Arizona, to join together in educational pursuits, realize their aspirations and dreams, graduate and go on to do amazing things." She concluded with some well wishes for the graduates:
"Know that you will always be a Wildcat and we will always, always be watching your brightest stars rise ever higher from wherever you go in the world, whatever you do next," said Folks. "We know you'll make us proud and all of your family and friends as well. Congratulations. And we wish you every success with whatever the next step is."