Mayor Breed calls on Gators to ‘change the course of the country’ at Commencement

San Francisco City Hall with purple and gold lights

San Francisco’s City Hall was lit in SF State’s colors, purple and gold, in honor of the University’s Class of 2020.

The University honored more than 7,700 graduating students through a virtual Commencement ceremony June 18

San Francisco Mayor London Breed told graduates at San Francisco State University’s 119th Commencement June 18 that they were the key to a brighter future for the world. As the keynote speaker at the Commencement ceremony — presented virtually in keeping with mandated COVID-19 precautions — Breed acknowledged the unique challenges the students face but said they’ve already demonstrated the determination and drive needed to overcome them.

“Keep everything you’ve learned at San Francisco State University in your heart and continue to give back to the community,” Breed said. “We need our young leaders now. We need you to help change the course of the country.”

The virtual ceremony, recognizing more than 7,700 graduating students, was available live on San Francisco State’s Commencement website. Other speakers included SF State President Lynn Mahoney, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jennifer Summit, outgoing Associated Students President Preyansh Kotecha and California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy P. White. Graduates and their families and friends also heard congratulatory messages from an array of CSU alumni, including Oscar-winning Pixar producer Jonas Rivera (who earned a B.A. from SF State in 1996). All of the messages echoed Breed’s sentiments about the challenging state of the world and the positive impact new graduates will make.

“You graduate at a very difficult moment. Economic challenges abound, and the U.S. is once again confronting its 400-year history of racism and white supremacy,” said President Mahoney. “And the consequences of institutional racism have manifested themselves in the grossly disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Latinos and Native Americans. So we celebrate today knowing that many are mourning and in great pain. I have confidence, though, that the class of 2020 will lead us to better days.”

In his speech, Kotecha urged his fellow graduates to channel their frustrations into work for change.

“We must put our heartbreaks and our outrage into action and show this world that we are the ones that can heal it,” said Kotecha. “We are the next generation of leaders who are equipped with the skills, dedication and bold ideas that will advance the world in unprecedented ways.”

An archived version of the virtual Commencement can be viewed on the University’s YouTube channel. A live Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 will be held when circumstances allow.

More details are available at