Voices cheering on the graduation of their loved ones rang throughout Crisler Arena during the Dec. 15 winter commencement ceremony.

Paul Wong
After receiving a honorary Doctorate of Human Letters, 1995 Pulitzer Prize winner and poet Philip Levine delivered a commencement address on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2002.

Students receiving doctoral, masters and bachelor of arts and science degrees from all of the University’s colleges joined to commemorate the accomplishments of graduating students.

Jacob Roth, the student speaker who received a bachelor of arts in English and philosophy, referred to notable figures such as Julia Roberts, Henry Ford, members of Led Zeppelin, Tom Cruise and Martin Luther King, Jr., who catapulted to prominence during their 20s by influencing the world.

To illustrate the importance of this decade of life, Roth touched upon the achievements of these famous figures, emphasizing how all graduating students have the potential to accomplish many things after college.

“Welcome to your 20s,” Roth said. “I entice you to dream and to keep dreaming, to learn and to keep learning.

“We are intelligent and beautiful. We are scholars and human. We are state-certified thinkers and provokers.”

In order to reach this milestone of graduating from the University, Roth stressed the importance of not only personal dedication but the support of loved ones and family.

“In our quest to learn and mature, we have neglected to appreciate our parents,” Roth said. “So today we thank each of our own dear ones who have watched us come along.”

Juxtaposing years of high school and college to the present moment, Roth compared the relatively few decisions students faced during their eight most recent years of education to the boundless opportunities that now lie ahead.

“Cherish your thoughts. Hold fast to your soul. Never underestimate the impossible,” Roth said.

University President Mary Sue Coleman said every graduating student will encounter new doors open wide with opportunities and this will lead students to undertake greater responsibility in the future as they move on from college.

Lasting close to two hours, many found the brevity of the commencement appealing, including Shirish Gadkari.

Commencement “was short and sweet and the fact that my niece was graduating was moving,” he said.

The commencement ceremonies honored Roy Johnson, Philip Levine and Nellie McKay with honorary degrees. Levine, a poet and 1995 Pulitzer Prize winner, gave the commencement address.

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