ASU Resiliency Graduation celebrates wellness after addiction, trauma and loss

June 6, 2019

The Arizona State University Resiliency Graduation began three years ago as a way for graduates who were involved with sexual violence prevention and recovery efforts to come together and build community. The ceremony is a celebration of ASU graduates' strength in times of adversity and specifically honors Sun Devils who are in recovery from addiction or trauma and the work they have done for themselves and their community during their time at ASU.

The 2019 Resiliency Graduation occurred on Sunday, May 5, at the Memorial Union on ASU’s Tempe campus. The ceremony has expanded every year, and the spring 2019 graduating class was the biggest yet, with 18 graduating students and three graduates participating as featured speakers.

Justice studies graduate student Emma Wheatley spoke about sexual and relationship violence prevention, and sustainability major Hanna Layton spoke about mindfulness, compassion and resilience.

Layton was involved with the ASU Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience and the Mindfulness Community at ASU student organization. She also worked with Sexual and Relationship Violence Prevention, Recovery Rising, Sun Devil Fitness and the Graduate and Professional Students Association. Now that she graduated with her bachelor of science degree, she will complete a master’s program in sustainability at ASU.A graduate poses at the ASU Resiliency graduation spring 2019

The Resiliency Graduation was one of several special-interest ceremonies celebrating ASU graduates in smaller settings that center around community experiences.

Layton said that being a part of the Resiliency Graduation was a very special experience for her. After losing her sister during her first year of college, Layton said she struggled.

“I was not really living, just surviving each day. I knew that I could not keep living with the lifestyle I took on,” she said.

“I remembered my old mindfulness practices and just started each day trying to breathe. I developed a practice that saved my life and helped me regain my health and power. After a while, I saw that I could help others struggling too, so it became a mission of mine to immerse myself in work that could help uplift others,” she said.

Layton said that the recovery and resiliency community at ASU is full of courage and understanding.

“Recovery and resiliency are not easy; they are tools we use to get back up after we fall. This community chooses to continue to keep rising, each day.”

Standing together with a group of people who all shared a feeling of resilience was very powerful for Layton.

“It was a celebration of all we have become and are still becoming. I was so proud of and connected to each person in the ceremony. It was a great way to celebrate this journey together!”

Layton said that the most important lesson she’s learned from her journey is to be connected.

“Connect with your work and find ways to let it bring you joy. Do what you do because you connect with it, because it is what you are passionate about, not because others expect it from you,” Layton said.

“And don’t forget to find some people to connect with too. It can be a little overwhelming to find 'your people' in such a large university, but I promise you they are out there, and they are worth the search!”

Learn more about resiliency and recovery resources through ASU Wellness.