PSU celebrates Class of 2015

Portland State is preparing to confer more than 6,000 degrees, making the Class of 2015 one of the biggest and most diverse in Oregon. 

With commencement ceremonies just over a week away, this year’s graduates are looking ahead to new adventures and one of the best job markets in years.

Students preparing to leave the university say they’ll miss the intellectual give and take of college life, but are ready to take on whatever comes next.

“Some of the richest conversations I’ve had in my life occurred in PSU classrooms,” says Rayleen McMillan, who served as student body vice president this year and is one of a handful of student graduation speakers. 

McMillan, a political science major, says PSU’s focus on experiential learning and civic engagement will serve graduates well as they enter the next phase of their lives. She has a job lined up handling government relations for Portland Community College.

“I’m ecstatic to see what my classmates go on to do,” she says.

Graduates are entering one of the most favorable job markets in years, says State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks. Unemployment rates are low, which means less competition for open positions.

“People who are just getting into the labor market have a better chance now than they’ve had in a long time,” Beleiciks says.

The most opportunities right now are in health care and professional and technical services, a broad area that covers accounting, legal services, business consulting and others, he says.

Of the degrees to be handed out on June 14, 4,250 are bachelor’s, 1,725 are master’s and 75 are PhDs. A total of 21 percent are minorities, and 81 percent come from Oregon. They join more than 150,000 other PSU alumni.

Not everyone has immediate employment waiting after they collect their diplomas. Some are headed for grad school; others have plans to travel before getting serious about work. 

Opportunities abound, says Weston Koyama, a liberal studies major and one of this year’s graduation speakers. He says he plans to take a few more classes, then take the LSAT and apply to law school.

“What’s next for me is a little bit uncertain,” Koyama says. “That’s a little scary but it’s exciting as well.” 

-- Harry Esteve

Photos: Rayleen McMillan and Weston Koyama

Cover photo: Marlon Holmes, MS '14

COMMENCEMENT 2015

WHEN: Sunday, June 14

10 a.m. Liberal Arts and Sciences 3:30 p.m. Professional schools and colleges

WHERE: MODA Center, Rose Garden Arena

DETAILS: pdx.edu/commencement

2015 Class Snapshot

  • Degrees earned: 6,050
  • Top majors: 1. Psychology 2. Health Studies 3. Social Science
  • Gender: Women 58%; Men 42%
  • Oldest 77; youngest: 16
  • Top countries: 1. United States; 2. India; 3. China; 4. Saudi Arabia

WATCH IT LIVE

Commencement ceremonies will be webcast live June 14 on pdx.edu as well as broadcast on OPB Plus live at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. (Comcast ch. 310, Verizon ch. 470).

SHARE THE EXCITEMENT OF COMMENCEMENT AT #2015PDXGRAD & WATCH YOUR POSTS COME TO LIFE

Join the conversation, give shout-outs, send best wishes, ask questions, and share photos and videos.