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Santa Clara University Conferred 1,350 Degrees at 160th Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony

Monday, Jun. 13, 2011

SANTA CLARA, Calif. June 11, 2011—Be a man or woman for others. Those were the words from commencement speaker and world-renowned author Dr. Khaled Hosseini to the 1,350 graduating seniors at Santa Clara University’s 160th undergraduate commencement ceremony Saturday.

The graduates, 652 men and 698 women, ranging from ages 18 to 50, listened to Hosseini, a 1988 Santa Clara alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He told them that much of what he learned on campus as an undergraduate student is more relevant to him today than he could have ever imagined.

“Being a man or woman for others is a great responsibility but it is also a great gift. But first, in order to accept this gift, we have to first reject the prevailing mindset of our culture—the mindset of scarcity,” he said.

The 46-year-old Afghan native spoke of too many people in the West as believing that they don’t have enough money, clothes, or opportunities. Hosseini challenged the graduates to let go of trying to get more of what they don’t really need and instead make a difference with what they already have.

“Making a difference in the world, no matter how large or small that difference is, will change your life in extraordinary ways and connect you to a greater sense of purpose,” he said.

Hosseini practiced medicine for eight years before writing The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, international best-selling novels that take place in his home country of Afghanistan. He and his family fled Afghanistan during the Soviet War in the 1980s and came to the U.S. as refugees.

Hosseini decided to make a difference of his own after witnessing real scarcity in his homeland during a visit in 2007. He created the Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides shelter, healthcare, education, and economic opportunity for people in Afghanistan.

“Instead of letting the voice of scarcity take over, remember the watchword of this university, and be a man or woman for others. If you do … you will always have work, always have purpose, always have community, and always remember the promise of this great day,” he said.

Hosseini’s words resonated with some of the foreign students who are from places as far away as Honduras, Ethiopia, and Pakistan. They’re among the 170 international students who represent 40 countries, provinces, and territories around the world.

The other graduating seniors come from 38 states and the District of Columbia. California has the most number of graduates at 851, followed by Washington with 94, and Hawaii with 57.

The class of 2011 is an ethnically diverse group, consisting of 574 White, 222 Asian, 206 Hispanic, 64 Black, 12 Pacific Islander, and two American Indian/Native Alaskan graduates, as well as 270 more who are bi-racial, multi-racial, or have chosen not to identify themselves.

Santa Clara University’s College of Arts & Sciences has the most number of graduates with 693 students, the Leavey School of Business has 489, and the School of Engineering has 168.

Final numbers of graduates will be available in September, after grades have been submitted and coursework has been verified.

Before Hosseini’s address, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Charles Currie, S.J., who is president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, also received an honorary degree, a Doctor of Faith and Justice.

Graduating senior Jessica Cassella, a political science major, was recognized as valedictorian for her outstanding academic achievement and service at Santa Clara.

Watch a slideshow of the ceremony.

Watch a 3-minute video of the highlights from the ceremony.

Watch entire ceremony.

Read the commencement address.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact:
Connie Kim Coutain | | 408-554-5126 O | 408-829-4836 C

Tags: 2011 undergraduate commencement, graduation, Khaled Hosseini

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