Campus Life

Mason Confers 3,835 Degrees at Winter Convocation; Alumna Ansari Tells Grads to Follow Their Dreams

By Robin Herron

Not many people can say they’ve gone around the world multiple times, and even fewer can say they did it from outer space. But Mason’s 2012 Winter Convocation speaker, alumna Anousheh Ansari can make this claim, and she does, with great pride. It was her lifelong dream.

Dreaming and using one’s imagination were themes of Ansari’s speech to the 2012 graduates at the December 20 ceremony. Ansari, who graduated from Mason in 1989 with a BS in electrical engineering, went on to become an engineer and successful entrepreneur, founding and leading several technology companies, most recently Prodea Systems.

President Ángel Cabrera presented Convocation keynote speaker alumna Anousheh Ansari with an honorary doctor of science degree at the 2012 Winter Convocation. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

President Ángel Cabrera presented Convocation keynote speaker alumna Anousheh Ansari with an honorary doctor of science degree at the 2012 Winter Convocation. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

While she achieved worldly success, the Iranian-born Ansari said her dreams reached higher—all the way into space—and she never gave up on that dream. She said that as a little girl, she watched the twinkling stars in the night sky and imagined being on Starship Enterprise and having exciting adventures in space.

On September 18, 2006, she had that adventure when she became a self-funded space participant on a Soyuz flight to the International Space Station for an 11-day mission. “It changes your life forever,” Ansari said of her space trip. “It’s an empowering experience.”

The university conferred 5,383 degrees at the 2012 Winter Convocation held on December 20 at the Patriot Center. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

The university conferred 3,835 degrees at the 2012 Winter Convocation held on December 20 at the Patriot Center. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

While most people won’t have that opportunity, Ansari exhorted graduates to take risks and step outside their comfort zone, as she did. “Always look up and keep shooting for the stars,” Ansari urged the graduates.

Mason President Ángel Cabrera presided over the Winter Convocation, noting that of the graduates, 2,343 were receiving bachelor’s degrees, 1,373 master’s or professional degrees, and 119 doctoral degrees. “I can say with confidence that the world today is a better place because 3,835 Patriots are receiving diplomas and are ready to make a difference,” he said.

Cabrera also conferred an honorary Doctor of Science degree upon Ansari.

To read more stories about Mason, check out the university’s News site.

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