U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urges Arizona State University graduates to be change agents - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urges Arizona State University graduates to be change agents

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SOURCE Arizona State University

TEMPE, Ariz., May 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a spirited address to thousands of graduating students at Arizona State University's 2014 undergraduate commencement May 14 U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called for excellence in higher education that is built through inclusion, instead of exclusion.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed thousands of graduating students during Arizona State University's 2014 undergraduate commencement, encouraging them to pay it forward and be change agents.

Duncan asked graduates to take their ASU education to heart and combine equity, diversity and creativity with world-class research, innovation, entrepreneurship and community service. More than 12,000 ASU students have or are graduating May 12-16, many with degrees in two or more majors.

Duncan was joined on the stage by honorary degree recipients Freeman Hrabowski, III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who has championed science and technology, and minority education; Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stigltiz from Columbia University, who is one of world's top authorities on economics theories that include welfare economics, income and wealth distribution; and environmental science pioneer and MacArthur Fellowship winner Pamela Matson from Stanford University.

Duncan applauded ASU's success in simultaneously raising its markers of excellence, while also enrolling and graduated a more diverse group of students. In the last decade, the university has increased the number of degrees award by nearly 60 percent. More Native-American and Hispanic students graduate from ASU than from any of the 62 research universities in the Association of American Universities. ASU is sixth among the 62 universities in graduating African-American students.

Reflecting upon his own journey from playing basketball in college to becoming the CEO of Chicago Public Schools to, more recently, being named the U.S. Secretary of Education in 2009, Duncan stressed the importance of persistence, as well as of embracing responsibility and innate leadership abilities.

"Chasing your dream is about so much more than finding a job or paying off your college debt, both of which, I know, are on many of your minds today," Duncan said. "But in the long-term, you'll know that you are pursuing your passion if it is what you would want to do every day, even if you weren't getting a paycheck."

ASU President Michael Crow addressed the graduates before Duncan, telling them that learning to be lifelong learners is the greatest gift the university has given them. He urged his students to take on the world's biggest challenges and make difference.

"Go out and never, ever be defeated," he said

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