Arizona International reception celebrates global graduates and international community

May 20, 2024
Wilma and Wilbur Wildcat mascots stand next to Dr. Jenny Lee and Dr. Hyeonchang “Kay” Gim

Vice President for Arizona International and Dean of International Education Dr. Jenny Lee and student speaker, Hyeonchang “Kay” Gim, spoke at this year's International Graduates and Community Reception. They are joined at the podium by Wilma and Wilbur Wildcat.

On Wednesday, May 8, 2024, during the Commencement week festivities, Arizona International held an International Graduates and Community Reception at the Arizona History Museum. This event was organized to honor the significant achievements and contributions of the international community at the University of Arizona.

The attendees included international graduates from the main campus, students who studied abroad, graduates of dual degree microcampus programs, international faculty and scholars, visiting and returning exchange students, along with their family and friends.

Over 200 guests enjoyed an evening filled with the jazz of Kenji Ono Lancaster, Colin McIlrath, and Jack O’Brien, accompanied by a light buffet. They spent the evening conversing with friends and family, taking photos, and mingling with Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat, who were also present to frolic with the attendees and pose for pictures.

Vice President for Arizona International and Dean of International Education Dr. Jenny Lee began the evening’s speeches with a warm welcome to the graduating class, including the more than 30 dual degree microcampus graduates who traveled to be at the event from Sampoerna University in Jakarta, Indonesia, American University of Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Princess Sumaya University for Technology in Jordan, and La Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas in Lima, Peru.

Dr. Jenny Lee addresses a crowd

Vice President for Arizona International and Dean of International Education Dr. Jenny Lee addresses the reception crowd.

“Welcome to all the international students, graduates, and our study abroad students on behalf of Arizona International. Today, we are bringing together members of our growing and diverse international community,” said Dr. Lee. “We celebrate the achievements of our graduating international cohort – including both campus-based students as well as our internationally located dual degree and online students.”  

Dr. Hyeonchang “Kay” Gim was invited to speak on behalf of the students. Dr. Gim, who comes to UArizona from South Korea, earned his Ph.D. in Communications this spring. During his five years at UArizona, Dr. Gim has also earned a master’s in communication, a Natural Language Processing Certificate, as well as graduate certificates in computational social science and college teaching. He has also received the Top Student Paper Award from both the National Communication Association and the International Communication Association.

During his speech, Dr. Gim shared how his journey through academia had often been plagued by moments of uncertainty and self-doubt, but his underlying determination to achieve his goals of becoming a scholar and educator kept him focused on the future. “I knew I wanted to be a great teacher so that I could motivate students like me – first-generation international students,” said Dr. Gim. “So I did something about it. I went step-by-step. I stopped listening to the “what-ifs” and found that, in reality, none of these worries actually happened. Instead, they only delayed my academic achievements and personal growth.”

He ended his speech with these final words of advice:

Dr. Hyeonchang “Kay” Gim speaks to crowd.

Dr. Hyeonchang “Kay” Gim addresses the reception. Dr. Gim, who comes to UArizona from South Korea, earned a Ph.D. in Communications.

“As we begin the next chapter of our lives, we will face numerous unfamiliar and uncertain challenges. Yet, we will always have a choice: to step back and worry or to face those challenges head-on and do something. Don't allow worrying and fear to dictate your path. Instead, consider them as catalysts for growth.”

This year’s graduating class includes more than 1,250 international students from 76 countries. Over 705 of these students completed their studies at the Tucson campus, while another 530 graduated from dual degree programs in various global locations. Additionally, over 580 graduating domestic students broadened their academic horizons by studying abroad during their time at UArizona. These graduates represent a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, encompassing over 120 different majors and areas of study.

Dr. Lee concluded the evening with some final words of congratulations. “As we celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates tonight, let us all celebrate the spirit of international collaboration and cultural exchange that defines our Arizona International community. Thank you, everyone, for making the University of Arizona a shining example of learning, diversity, and global engagement.”