WSU announces fall 2023 commencement schedule, speakers

More than 1,400 students are eligible to participate in Wichita State University’s 126th fall commencement ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17 in Charles Koch Arena.

All graduates will walk across the stage and be individually recognized. Doctoral candidates will be hooded at the ceremony.

Speaking to the graduates this year are Gene and Yolanda Camarena. Gene Camarena is the president and CEO of La Raza Pizza Inc., and Yolanda Camarena has been an advocate for social justice and equity in education. They are also the founders of the Shocker Adelante Scholars scholarship program, which they started in 2020.

All graduation attendees will be required to be screened by security personnel and metal detectors as they enter the arena. Koch Arena will open at 1 p.m. It’s recommended audience members arrive early to allow sufficient time to get through security. There will also be a clear-bag policy for all those in attendance.

Please note that guest seating will be on a first-come basis, and no tickets will be required for entrance.

For individuals unable to attend in person, the ceremony will be available via online livestream. To view the ceremony, go to and scroll down to "Watch the Livestream” and click “Watch.” The stream will go live at about 2:30 p.m. Dec. 17.

For more information regarding commencement, consult the commencement FAQ online.

Additionally, graduates may bring up to two family members or friends to The Toast, a celebration of the years of hard work graduates have put into getting their degrees and graduating from Wichita State University. The Toast is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15 in the third-floor ballroom of the Rhatigan Student Center, Room 305/306. Learn more about The Toast.

About the speakers

Gene Camarena is president and CEO of La Raza Pizza Inc. and has business interests including Pizza Hut restaurants, Marriott hotels, banking and real estate development. In the past 10 years, these business holdings have been recognized as being in the top 150 largest Hispanic-owned businesses in the country.

He currently serves as chairman of the board of directors for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the largest philanthropic organization in the country for providing scholarships to Hispanic college and graduate students. The Hispanic Scholarship Fund provides more than $30 million in scholarships annually.

Yolanda Camarena has been a dedicated leader advocating for social justice and equity in education over the years. Her areas of service are education, community development and philanthropy. As a first-generation college student in the 1970s, she experienced the many obstacles Latino students faced trying to get a college education then and continues today. Because of that experience she and her husband Gene currently support various scholarship programs that assist students fulfill their goals of getting a post-secondary degree.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Wichita State, a master’s in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letter from Newman University in 2015. During her time at Harvard, she and several of the Latino graduate students founded the Journal of Hispanic Policy. The journal continues to be a formidable source for Hispanic policy research at the Kennedy School of Government.

About Wichita State University

Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling more than 23,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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