A total of 674 students received degrees during LSU’s 293rd commencement ceremony on Friday. LSU alumnus and culinary entrepreneur Jay Ducote delivered the keynote address. 

LSU President F. King Alexander, who presided over the ceremony, congratulated the graduates and reminded them of their responsibility to make the world a better place.

“You have the tools, you have the skills, you have the talent to do so, and the benefits you reap can impact not only your own life but may have ripple effects around this world,” Alexander said. “Every one of you joining us today know that we have great faith in all that you have accomplished.”

Alexander wished the graduates the best of luck in all their future endeavors.

“Your LSU family will take great pride in everything you accomplish in your lifetime no matter where you are. Remember that you are never alone in this path toward success and global impact. Your alma mater forever stands strong behind you,” he said.

LSU continues to set records with each commencement class. This was the largest summer graduating class of African American students and a tie for the highest number of doctoral degrees awarded to African American students for a summer commencement. It was also the largest number of veterans receiving master’s degrees in a summer commencement since LSU began tracking veteran graduates.

Of the 674 graduates at summer commencement, 355 earned bachelor’s degrees, 177 earned master’s degrees, nine received a certificate of education specialist, six received graduate certificates, 17 received post-bachelorette certificates and 110 received doctoral degrees.

In the August 2017 graduating class, 38 Louisiana parishes, 41 U.S. states and 44 foreign countries were represented. Women made up 54.3 percent of the graduates, and men made up 45.7 percent. The oldest graduate was 69, and the two youngest graduates were 20.

Alexander introduced Ductote to deliver the summer commencement address, saying that he can’t think of a better ambassador for the state of Louisiana to have than Ducote.

“Jay took his LSU degree and made it into his passion and went out to change the world. We can’t wait to see what you’re going to do with your degrees,” Alexander said.

Ducote said it had been a dream of his to be back on the graduation stage, this time delivering the commencement speech rather than walking across it to receive a degree.

Ducote recapped his college career, where he earned undergraduate degrees in political science and economics and furthered his education with a master’s degree in political science from LSU as well.

“LSU didn’t teach me what to think, it taught me how to think. It’s not the content you learn, it’s the process of learning that’s most import,” Ducote said.

LSU is also where Ducote got his start as a chef, when he was handed his grandfather’s BBQ utensils at his first tailgate party during his freshman year. Ducote had found his passion, and he talked to the graduates about how he embraced it fully and turned it into a career. His passion is food, so he needed to learn to get better at cooking, needed more general food knowledge, and needed to be able to write and talk about food.

“Find the thing that you don’t want to stop learning about,” he said. “Find something you can always be inquisitive about, something that always keeps your mind curious. That’s what you are passionate about, and that’s what you should do for the rest of your life.”

Ducote told the graduates that their education is something that no one can take away from them, so they need to use it.

“Now, people can’t take away being a Tiger from you either,” he said. “Chase your dreams, pursue your passions and find your tailgate party.”

Following the commencement ceremony, Ducote hosted a BBQ luncheon for the graduates and their families in Tiger Stadium.

Among the university’s 674 graduates were 16 LSU faculty and staff members. Of the 16 employees who graduated, one received a bachelor’s degree, one received a certificate of education specialist, nine earned master’s degrees and five earned doctoral degrees.

A list of the graduates is available at www.lsu.edu/commencement