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University of Phoenix Spring Commencement held at Chase Field

By Michele Mitchum

Event celebrating graduates featured keynote speaker and alum Tomás León

University of Phoenix held its Spring 2023 commencement ceremony on Saturday, April 29, at Chase Field. Graduating students from 10 different countries and all 50 U.S. states registered to attend the in-person ceremony. The students who earned their degrees during the ceremony join a community of more than 1 million University of Phoenix alumni. The commencement ceremonies were followed by a block party held on 4th Street outside of Chase Field.

University of Phoenix alum and President of Equality Health Foundation, Tomás León, delivered the keynote address. “It was a great honor and blessing to deliver the keynote address for the University of Phoenix graduation ceremony,” shared León. “I came to celebrate and inspire the graduates with my “Barrio to the Boardroom” story, and I left more inspired by their unique stories. Meeting many of the graduates and their families, I found myself overwhelmed with emotions to see the tapestry of diversity reflected. These graduates are a beacon of hope and a true inspiration for generations of students to come.”

León holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The University of Arizona and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Phoenix.

Provost and Chief Academic Officer for the University of Phoenix, John Woods, Ph.D., says the commencement ceremony is particularly special given the number of working adults attending the University. “Every year it is a privilege to see our graduates and their families celebrating their hard work, commitment and perseverance,” states Woods. “Our graduates are a tremendous source of pride for the University, because we know that busy adult learners make a deliberate choice to pursue their educational goals while juggling multiple priorities. When our students walk across the stage, we appreciate how hard they have worked to achieve their goal, and it is a fantastic feeling knowing that our faculty and staff were there to support them every step of the way.”

Floretta C. Watson, a three-time University of Phoenix alumna, graduated with her MBA during the ceremony and flew to Phoenix from her hometown of Detroit to attend the event. Watson, who began her college career right after high school, and went back to school again when her children were young, stopped attending school in 2003 to focus on her family. In 2019, a year after her youngest son graduated from high school, she decided it was time for her to go back to school, focus on herself, and finish what she started. “I gathered all my friends during my 53rd birthday dinner and told them my plan,” shares Watson. “They were incredibly supportive – and I’m proud of myself for making that commitment to myself, my friends, and my family.”

“I have attended all three of my graduation ceremonies from the University of Phoenix,” Watson states. “My first ceremony was for my associate’s degree was in the same location, Chase Field. I can still remember sitting way in the back and looking out over the students who were there to receive their advanced degrees. It was a humbling experience that encouraged me because I always knew I wanted to get my MBA, and it seemed like a goal far in the future. I just remember watching the MBA students walking across that stage and thinking, someday that will be me, and today that was me. I am feeling blessed beyond measure, and I give all thanks and glory to God who made it all possible. It’s my season to soar.”

The next in-person commencement ceremony for University of Phoenix is scheduled to take place in Southern California in the fall.  

Learn more about commencement at the University of Phoenix here.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit