SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the commencement speaker for San Francisco State University Tuesday evening. She had a simple message for graduates: be yourselves. Almost 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students received degrees as about 30,000 guests cheered them.
"Are there any Dreamers in the house?", asked Pelosi during her speech.
She spoke of immigration reform and climate change and urged students to "take bold action" because "the times have found us."
Pelosi also lauded the nation's founding values and democratic principles.
"This class is America, you are America because of your diversity and because you prescribe to that special quality our founders embraced: optimism."
Pelosi has been in Congress longer than most of the graduates have been alive. She praised SFSU for its history of advocacy and social justice.
"What a beautiful day in a a sanctuary city," led off one student speaker.
Another student spoke of discrimination and violence in her onstage comments.
"Did you know the average life expectancy of a transgender woman of color is only 35 years old, which is preventable?" posed Alexis Adsit, receiving an M.A. in Ethnic Studies
Graduates of the 2019 class come from 37 states and 64 countries and graduate in an array of majors.
"Criminal law, kinesiology, accounting, film," responded four friends, naming their fields of study.
With a healthy job market, their confidence is high. Some students will defer career to stay in school, and earn a more advanced degree.
"I'm getting a masters in occupational therapy," said Rena Ribeiro of Novato.
"I really want to work in geriatrics, in a senior home, when I graduate in three more years, it's where my heart is. I'm just excited to help people."
Other students expect life to take its course, glad to have the diploma and the experiences that came with it.
"I'm an international business major but I love working with kids," said Elaine Zaho of San Francisco.
"But throughout the four years, I've become way more confident, I was shy before but now i'm just me."
It is SFSU's 118th graduating class, and its largest ever. This is the fifth year commencement has been held at Oracle Park, home of the S.F. Giants. The five hour ceremony was followed, as usual, by a ten minute fireworks show.
Speaker Pelosi kept her remarks more heartfelt, than fiery.
"Know your power, the power that springs from being yourself, your individual you," she concluded.