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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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Stan State Class of 2022 Honored at 62nd Commencement

Graduates+walk+to+their+seats+at+the+commencement+ceremony+for+the+College+of+Arts%2C+Humanities+%26amp%3B+Social+Sciences+on+May+26%2C+2022.%26%23160%3B
Kristin Platts

Graduates walk to their seats at the commencement ceremony for the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences on May 26, 2022. 

Stanislaus State held the first of four commencement ceremonies planned for the class of 2022 Thursday morning. Graduates from the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (CAHSS) were the first to walk the stage of the outdoor amphitheater on the Turlock campus in the university’s 62nd commencement.
In total, Stan State awarded 3,130 bachelor or post-baccalaureate degrees within all four colleges, while another 306 were awarded credentials. The first ceremony of the day handed out degrees to 704 graduates, including the first five degrees ever awarded in Stan State’s newest major, Creative Media.
An excited crowd of about 3,500 filled the amphitheater to mark the first large, in-person commencement ceremony at the university since prior to the pandemic. Families and guests arrived with their graduates for the check-in process, where they were required to show ID’s, tickets, and proof of COVID-19 self-screening, before being escorted together to awaiting chairs of five. The process will be the same for all the remaining ceremonies.
The opportunity for graduates to sit with their guests was one positive take-away from students who graduated in the same manner last year, according to Kristina Stamper, Director for Communications & Creative Services. She said many students expressed a desire to keep that going for this year’s ceremonies. Unlike last year’s much more socially distanced event, this year students were allowed to bring up to five guests; last year greater social distancing regulations meant each graduate could only have two guests.
In remarks given by Stan State President Ellen Junn, she commended the class of 2022 for having succeeded through the challenges brought on by the pandemic.
“We are lucky that this pandemic, while still present, is not stopping our students and families from gathering on one of the most important and pivotal days of your lives,” she said. 
She offered graduates three pieces of advice; honor your family’s roots, to follow your dreams and continue to build your knowledge and your skills, and to embed service into your life using integrity and kindness.
“The world needs all of us to do our part in giving back and making this a better planet,” she said. “So, find something that you love outside of yourself and provide service to that greater good, by volunteering, reaching out, and making a difference.”
Speaker for the faculty, Dr. Dana Nakano, took a somber shift from the original focus of his speech to honor the victims of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas earlier in the week and less than a week after a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. 
“My heart is heavy with the unnecessary loss of life that we have witnessed in this last week to mass shootings and to a system that refuses to take responsibility and action,” Nakano said, garnering applause from the audience.
He said while his original speech had been filled with great jokes and wisdom, those words no longer felt appropriate. He shared excerpts from “Kids Who Die,” a 1938 poem by Langston Hughes, which he noted still holds true today. 
The CAHSS student speaker, Katrina Thomas-Grey (Bachelor of Arts, Criminal Justice), shared her story of perseverance through a life filled with unforeseen challenges due to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 2002.
The mother of four hit a snag early on in her Stan State career, earning a C in one of her first classes in 2020. After that, she maintained high grades and a spot on the dean’s list after promising herself she would do better.
“I had to talk to myself, so I said, ‘Girl, is this what you really want to do?’ and I said, ‘Yes, girl. I’m all in,’” Thomas-Grey said, noting that the C was the lowest grade she got at Stan State.
Thomas-Grey congratulated her fellow classmates for making it through an unprecedented time but stuck it through. 
“As we leave here with our heads held high, we found that inner strength to go through COVID, and do everything that we did to get to this point,” she said. “And I just want to say congratulations everybody. I appreciate you all.”
Two honorary doctorate degrees were awarded during the Thursday morning event to Stan State alumnus, Jeani Ferrari and her husband John. The Ferrari’s, second-generation farmers with long roots in philanthropy and community activism, generously donated to the efforts of the J. Burton Vasché Library in 2020. Their donation funded the two story agriculturally themed mural donning the main entrance of the lobby, which also bears their name.
Addressing her fellow classmates, ASI President Cynella Aghasi congratulated her fellow Warriors on making it this far.
“Here at Stanislaus State, we call ourselves warriors. And as warriors do, you, graduates, have embraced the uncertainty, held on to your commitment to your goals, after semesters and years’ worth of hard work and mental exhaustion to make it to this very day,” she said, adding that the legacy graduates leave behind will leave stepping stones for their success as well as future generations for Warriors who follow.  
Graduate Larissa Vasquez (Bachelor of Arts, English) was excited to be the first in her family to earn a bachelor degree.
“It means a lot to show that pathway to my siblings that they can also do it, and then just to myself, that I was able to do it,” she said.
Vasquez said her college experience wasn’t an easy one, having transferred from two universities before settling in at Stan State.
“When I finally came to Stan for an in-person experience, it was everything that I expected, it was really nice coming here and being able to be here for as long as I did,” Vasquez said.
Morghen Harris was at commencement to support her brother Bradley Harris, who was receiving a degree in Sociology.
“[This graduation] it means a lot. I feel like it means a lot because when we were 12, our mom passed away,” Harris said. “So, we’ve been through a lot and just to see him graduate today is a huge accomplishment.”
Sabrina Mijares (M.A., English) was at the ceremony to receive her master’s degree. She missed out on a traditional ceremony in 2020 when she should have walked the stage to receive her bachelor degree.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to be celebrated, I guess, so it’s nice to be back and be able to celebrate,” she said.
Graduates from the College of Business Administration are scheduled to walk the stage at 4 p.m. today. Ceremonies for the College of Science will take place at 8 a.m. Friday with the College of Education, Kinesiology & Social Work at 4 p.m.
Signal Reporter Selena Estrada contributed to this story.
Watch for continued updates to this story throughout the day and separate coverage for the ceremonies for the colleges of Science, Business, and Education & Kinesiology.

 

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Stan State Class of 2022 Honored at 62nd Commencement