Arizona International honors 2023 Winter Graduates

Dec. 19, 2023
Large group of graduating students poses together in Bear Down Gym.

Graduating dual degree microcampus students from UPC Lima in Peru celebrate their success with a group photo.

Over 200 people joined Arizona International in Bear Down Gym for the 2023 International Students Winter Graduation Celebration. The event was dedicated to recognizing and honoring the many achievements and contributions of our international community at the University of Arizona.

The guest list featured main campus international graduates, dual degree microcampus grads, international faculty and scholars, exchange students, as well as family and friends. Senior university faculty and staff in attendance included Vice President for Arizona International and Dean of International Education Dr. Jenny Lee and Special Advisor to Arizona International Dr. John Paul Jones. 

Vice President for Arizona International and Dean of International Education Dr. Jenny Lee address a crowd from a podium.

Dr. Lee began the evening’s speeches with a warm welcome. “We rejoice in the accomplishments of our graduating international cohort, encompassing those from our main campus, as well as those pursuing dual degrees internationally and our Global Direct online students. Among them are 40 dual degree microcampus graduates who have journeyed to join us from the University of Phnom Phen in Cambodia, Sampoerna University in Jakarta, Indonesia, and UPC Lima in Peru. A heartfelt welcome to each of you – we are delighted to have you with us. Additionally, we extend our greetings and appreciation to our international faculty and scholars for their valuable contributions to the academic and research endeavors of the University."

The graduating class of 2023 comprises over 515 students hailing from 51 different countries. Among them, more than 380 completed their studies on the Tucson campus, while 128 finished their dual degree programs at various global locations. These graduates span across a diverse array of undergraduate and graduate programs, covering more than 120 majors and study areas.
 The soundtrack for the evening was provided by University of Arizona Director of Jazz Studies jazz pianist Angelo Versace, drummer Kenji Ono Lancaster, and bassist Colin McIlrath. Attendees were treated to the trio’s musical performance while they enjoyed a light buffet, chatted with friends and family, and snapped pictures.

Senior Jennifer Gwasira was invited to speak on behalf of the students. Gwasira, who comes to UArizona from Zimbabwe, is earning her master’s degree in German studies and is the recipient of the Fellowship Award from the Max Kade Foundation, an organization that takes pride in participating and sponsoring various programs that encourage the exchange of academic ideas among universities and colleges both in the United States and in German-speaking countries. She has worked as a Global Ambassador for International Student Services and is a member of the African Graduate Students Association and the Black Graduate Student Association.

During her speech, Gwasira reflected on her experience not only as an international student but as an ambassador of her culture. For all international students, earning a degree goes hand in hand with expanding horizons, breaking down walls, and fostering connections. She closed her remarks by inviting her classmates to work toward change:

Associate Director of International Student Services Noelle Sallaz and student speaker Jennifer Gwasira pose together with smiles.

Associate Director of International Student Services Noelle Sallaz and student speaker Jennifer Gwasira.

“Now, as we stand on the edge of our futures, let us not forget the responsibilities that come with the privilege of education. It is our duty to be ambassadors of goodwill, cultural understanding, and positive change,” Gwarsira said. “We are not just graduates of the University of Arizona; we are global citizens equipped with the knowledge and skills to make a difference in the world.”

Former Dean of International Education Dr. Jones echoed Jennifer’s words of global engagement and spoke of his admiration for the graduating cohort, “We at Arizona International thank you for enriching our campus, our faculty, our staff, and your fellow students with a diversity of life experiences, cultures, and languages, and knowledge that you have brought to the University of Arizona during your time here.”

Arizona International extends its congratulations to all the graduates!