Lieutenant governor tells Class of 2022 they are the future of democracy

Graduating students in their robes and caps

SF State graduates celebrate at the May 26 Commencement ceremony.

Thousands attended the University’s 121st Commencement, held May 27 at Oracle Park

California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis congratulated graduating students at San Francisco State University’s 121st Commencement May 27 at Oracle Park. The ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of the more than 7,400 graduates of the class of 2022.

“You are on the threshold of your future, and you are destined for great and wonderful things,” Kounalakis said. 

Kounalakis also encouraged graduates to commit themselves to strengthening American democracy. 

“People ask me all the time about the future of American democracy and what gives me hope. And my answer is you,” Kounalakis said. “Yes you, very specifically, the students and graduates of the California State University system.”

The previous evening the University hosted another ceremony at Oracle Park, this one for the classes of 2020 and 2021. (Live Commencements for those years had to be postponed due to COVID-19.) The Commencement speaker that night was Myrna Melgar, the San Francisco City and County Board of Supervisors member representing District 7.

“Remain steadfast in being change agents in your communities,” Melgar said. “We need you to carry the torch of change evolution at this pivotal moment.”

Honorary degrees were also awarded both evenings. On May 26, the honoree was social justice activist Fania E. Davis.

“To meet these times, we need to not only be warriors,” said Davis, a lifelong advocate for civil rights, Black liberation and women. “We need to be healers. Warriors for justice, champions for healing.”

The honoree May 27 was actor and activist BD Wong. A San Francisco native, Wong made his Broadway debut in 1988 with an award-winning performance in “M. Butterfly.” Since then he’s not only appeared in dozens of plays, films and television shows, he’s also been active as an advocate for the LGBTQ and Asian communities. He urged graduates to use their degrees to make a mark on the world.

“I beg you to choose to do something … rather than to do nothing,” Wong said. “To make a choice that’s active. To make a choice that makes a difference to something. A person, yourself, someone you believe in, some cause or something. But don’t just take up space.” 

In her remarks, SF State President Lynn Mahoney paid tribute to the tenacity and drive of the University’s newest graduates, who had to complete their college educations during a historically turbulent time.

“We talk about resilience, you demonstrated it. We talk about commitments to social justice, you demanded them. We talk about forging new paths and new ways of doing things, you have done this,” said Mahoney. “With little notice, you charted a different path from the one you envisioned when you started your degrees. You worked with faculty and staff to create new ways of learning and new ways of being college students. You innovated, you experimented. And, while the path was not easy, you made it.”

More details about both ceremonies are available at commencement.sfsu.edu.

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