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Arizona Republic President Stresses the Importance of Courage to Cronkite Graduates

December 14, 2015

Mi-Ai Parrish, the new president and publisher of The Arizona Republic, reminded the newest graduates of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication that inspiration is possible, even in the most challenging of times.

Parrish, a veteran journalist who previously served as publisher of The Kansas City Star and The Idaho Statesman, was the keynote speaker at the Cronkite School’s fall convocation ceremony Monday at ASU Gammage, where 189 students received degrees with more than 1,000 guests in attendance.

In her address, Parrish, who became president and publisher of The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com in October, shared the story of how her grandfather was imprisoned by the Japanese more than 60 years ago for his religious beliefs. She explained how her family endured years of fear, separation and mistreatment from police, while her grandfather faced abuse from guards in prison. She said her family grew stronger from the experience, with her mother moving to the U.S., raising a family and earning her doctorate in biochemistry.

Parrish said she decided to share her family’s story “on a day that honors your accomplishments and celebrates freedom of speech and our democracy and looks to your futures ... not for what it says about me, but what I think it says about us — that what we are isn’t about the hand we’re dealt, but what we do with it.”

In all, the Cronkite School graduated 173 bachelor’s degree students, 13 master’s degree students and two students who earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Richard Johnson received a doctoral degree, the third awarded by the school.

Student speaker Yahaira Jacquez of Peoria, Ariz., said graduating from the Cronkite School fulfills the dreams of her parents, who migrated to the U.S. from Mexico in search of a better life. She reminded her fellow graduates of the sense of possibility they all felt when they first entered the school.

“No matter where life takes us, we have been prepared to win and … conquer life’s biggest challenges,” she said. “So we must not lose this sense of possibility because no dream is too big and no goal is too far.”

Cronkite Dean and University Vice Provost Christopher Callahan said a third of the graduating class earned high academic honors. Twelve students graduated summa cum laude status with grade-point averages of at least 3.8; another 19 graduated magna cum laude with GPAs of 3.6 to 3.79; and 19 graduated cum laude with GPAs of 3.4 to 3.59.

In addition, 12 students were inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, a national college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism. The top 10 percent of the graduating class is inducted into the society each semester.


Outstanding Graduate Student
Steven Dent

Outstanding Undergraduate Students
Aimee Cash
Peyton Gallovich
Rachel Gosselin
Samantha Shotzbarger
Siera Whitten

Highest Grade Point Average
Maribel Castillo
Whitney Woodworth

Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society
Jason Axelrod
Gregory Breeden
Maribel Castillo
Steven Dent
Peyton Gallovich
Paulina Iracka
Richard Johnson
Mario Kalo
Miranda Perez
Jeffrey Vinton
Siera Whitten
Whitney Woodworth

Student Speaker
Yahaira Jacquez