On a scorching hot Sunday in June, Stanford University celebrated its 126th Commencement. Over 70 undergraduate and 75 M.A. students graduated from Stanford Global Studies Division programs.
During the university's ceremony, Mike Tomz, Director of the Program in International Relations and Professor of Political Science, was honored with the Gores Award “for being a leader in transforming the undergraduate experience for political science students at Stanford through dynamic content of the highest academic quality.” He was commended for the creation and stewardship of the Political Science & IR Summer Research College, and “for being an outstanding, caring, and conscientious teacher who is a model of high expectations and generosity.”
A total of 55 students graduated with a degree in International Relations (IR)—15 with honors—along with six students who completed the IR minor. The IR class of 2017 includes students from 17 states and 13 countries. This year’s IR graduates have collectively shown proficiency in 18 languages, and studied abroad in 16 different locations.
"In the last four years, your curiosity, your opinions, and your ambition have all challenged me and helped me grow in ways that I could not have imagined before coming to this campus," said Yegina Whang, who graduated with a degree in IR with honors and spoke at the diploma ceremony.
"With the state of the world today, the concepts and case studies we learn in our classes seem more consequential and applicable than ever,” said Whang. “After four years of taking courses with and learning from all of you, I leave Stanford knowing that the future is in good hands."
In his address to IR graduates, families and friends, Stephen Stedman—professor of political science and resident fellow at Stanford’s “global citizenship” themed house—warned that democracy “is frittering away its natural advantages.”
Stedman called upon the graduates to fight threats to democracy through responsible citizenship: “I hope that you will commit yourself to the new urgent responsibilities of citizenship,” he said. “Citizenship for today means being a discerning consumer and purveyor of information; getting to know other citizens who are not like you, and understanding that despite differences, you have much in common, and finally, being willing to argue the case for your beliefs, while being open to changing your mind. Nothing less than the health of our democracy depends on it.”
Here are more highlights from Stanford’s 126th Commencement: