U graduates more than 7,300 students

By By Ryan Shelton

By Ryan Shelton

Commencement

U researcher and Nobel Prize winner Mario Capecchi offered words of advice and praise at this year’s graduation commencement to the more than 7,300 U students who received degrees, but warned that their generation would be held accountable for the actions taken to combat global climate change.

“Our earth has a fever, and that fever is climbing,” Capecchi said. “We must act now. The sooner we start, the easier it will be.”

Capecchi, the U’s first Nobel laureate, spoke to the largest graduating class in the university’s history. Capecchi won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on gene targeting.

More than 5,100 bachelor’s, 1,700 master’s and 700 doctorate degrees were awarded to U students from 73 countries, 50 U.S. states and 26 of Utah’s 29 counties.

The U issues more academic degrees than any other public university in Utah, and has seen a steady increase in degrees awarded since 2000, when 5,400 diplomas were handed out.

Since 1886, the U has awarded over 240,000 degrees.

Friends and family of the graduates filled the stands of the Jon M. Huntsman Center and cheered as U President Michael Young welcomed the class of 2008.

“We expect you to change the world in extraordinary ways,” Young said. “Today we look to you for the great challenges facing our nation and our world.”

Luciano Pesci, the 2008 valedictorian, said that the privilege of an academic degree is accompanied with great obligation.

“Do not be content in the accomplishments only of your own merit,” Pesci said. “As graduates, it is now our obligation to perpetuate the knowledge we gained during our time here, and to maintain this institution, which has given all of us a greater chance at life.”

Entering the job market

For most students, graduation marks the entrance into the job market, where the struggling economy and weak U.S. dollar have many graduates worried about limited opportunities.

But a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that employers plan to hire 16 percent more new college graduates in 2008 than they did in 2007.

Stan Inman, director of Career Services at the U, noted that Utah’s economy remains one of the strongest in the nation, and that job openings are readily available to graduates looking to stay in the state.

“The economy has less of an impact on new graduates seeking employment than it does on mid-level positions,” Inman said. “Our unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country?We’ve got a great market for college graduates in Utah right now.”

Megan Hammond, who graduated with a marketing degree, said that although she’s reached out to potential employers, she’s worried about finding a good job.

“It’s scary to think that after spending four years working toward a degree, I won’t be able to find a job,” she said. “I’m thrilled to have this diploma, but it won’t pay students loans for me.”[email protected]