University President Marc Johnson reminded members of the University of Nevada, Reno's Class of 2012 that a college degree "represents more than the potential for a job, or a skilled trade."
"Today you embark on a career," Johnson told the overflow crowd gathered on the Quad for Saturday's undergraduate Commencement ceremony. "This is the end product of all the hard work and midterm group presentations and exhausting cramming sessions for finals.
"The remarkable college education you've received provides critical thinking and problem solving skills, and experience in the application of knowledge, which are keys to building your career.
"Your college education gives you an edge, the edge to be successful."
The past weekend, May 18-19, 2012 saw the University of Nevada's Spring Commencement ceremony confer a record 2,215 degrees and certificates - the largest number of graduation and applicants in the University's 138-year history.
Two ceremonies were held, one for advanced-degree recipients on Friday, May 18 and one for bachelor-degree recipients on Saturday, May 19.
Johnson told the graduates that it was important to remember one thing.
"I'm sure many of you - and maybe even your parents - are wondering, 'Well, four years of college. Was it worth it? Was it an investment without a return?'" Johnson said. "We have conferred 3,658 degrees this year, which is a record. This weekend, more than 2,200 alone are graduating, and entering a tough job market.
"Has it all been worth it? Let me tell you as directly as possible: The past four years have been, absolutely, thoroughly, unequivocally, 100 percent ... worth it."
He said that as a trained economist, the financial and personal dividends each graduate would see over the next 40 years would be immense.
But more personally, he added, "During these four years, your perspective, your sense of yourself, has changed. You've become, simply, better citizens. And perhaps most importantly of all, you've learned to finish.
"The degree will receive today is a signal to the greater world that you come from persistent stock, that you aren't easily deterred, that you have persevered and developed talents that were hidden deep inside you."
In addition to the degrees conferred, Matthew Neben, a senior majoring in economics and finance and minoring in journalism, was awarded the 2012 Herz Gold Medal for outstanding scholarship. The Herz Gold Medal is awarded each Commencement to the graduating senior with the highest grade-point average.
During Friday afternoon's advanced degree ceremony, the University also honored three Distinguished Nevadans: historian Stanley Paher, longtime Nevada State archivist Guy Louis Rocha, and the late University alumnus and Nevada State Senator, William J. Raggio.