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One grande graduation speech with two pumps of Howard Schultz

Starbucks CEO to give ASU graduation commencement speech

starbucks grad

"I graduated with honors and the most delicious drinks Starbucks has to offer." Illustration published Monday, April 3, 2017.

Starbucks is not only expanding its ASU tuition program, the Starbucks College Achievement Program, but it will also be making an appearance at this year’s graduation ceremony.

Howard Schultz, who has been Starbuck’s chairman and CEO for close to three decades, has been chosen to give this year's commencement speech during the undergraduate graduation ceremony on May 8. 

With a total of seven Starbucks across ASU’s campuses, the mega-coffee company has a big presence to students.

Reggie Borges, a Global Communications Manager at Starbucks, said that by Schultz giving the ASU commencement speech it exemplifies his focus on education.

“This really speaks to Howard’s passion about giving people opportunities specifically as it relates to education,” Borges said. “Which can be seen through our pathway to admission program that we launched with ASU.”

One of those students, Allyson Taylor, is a senior in marketing and supply chain management preparing to graduate in the next few weeks. Taylor has the opportunity to witness Schultz’s commencement speech and said his business model correlates well with ASU’s innovative initiatives.

“The fact that he is known for his great leadership and here at ASU, we are known for our great leadership and especially for innovation,” Taylor said. “I think he brings that element of leadership style to his business, just as much as ASU caters to those leadership styles and cultivating those with students here before they graduate. I think it’s a great fit.”

Taylor has learned about Schultz's leadership skills through ASU courses at the W.P. Carey School of Business.

“I’ve heard a bit about the CEO of Starbucks before, Howard Schultz, in some of the news I have been reading but also in some of my business classes,” Taylor said. “We read case studies about the Starbucks brand and about Howard Schultz’s leadership under the company and he has done an excellent job at that.”

Taylor said with ASU being such a large university, it has the ability to gain access to influential leaders such as Schultz.

“It is amazing that at ASU, we have access to such huge people in the industry,” Taylor said. “We here about these names but it is amazing that someone like that is coming to talk at ASU. It seems a little bit far fetched that we have access to people like that but seeing that we are now number one in innovation and we are continuing to grow, it’s amazing.”

Anna Hartman, a junior accounting student and a Shift Lead Supervisor at the Starbucks in the W.P. Carey School, said Schultz is a good fit for speaking at the graduation ceremony.

“I think he is a good candidate for the speech because Starbucks is a company that does care a lot about their students’ education,” Hartman said. “He (Howard Schultz) voices it a lot more that other companies.”

Hartman, who has been working at Starbucks since January, said Schultz’s importance to education is obvious.

“For students to have someone that will be giving a speech at graduation that shows such support for their education, it is probably a great feeling,” Hartman said. “I hope that when I graduate there’s a role model like that to give the speech.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @marcellabaietto on Twitter.

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