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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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The 64th Commencement of CSU Stanislaus

Provost+Richard+Ogle+speaks+in+front+of+a+sea+of+graduates%2C+welcoming+the+graduates+and+faculty%2C+and+their+friends+and+family+in+the+audience%2C+to+the+commencement+ceremony.+%28Signal+Photo%2FAlyssa+Villa%29

Provost Richard Ogle speaks in front of a sea of graduates, welcoming the graduates and faculty, and their friends and family in the audience, to the commencement ceremony. (Signal Photo/Alyssa Villa)

Over 3,000 proud graduates crossed the stage and were awarded with either a Master’s hood or a degree from their college’s faculty at the CSU Stanislaus’ 64th Commencement. 
These graduating Warriors were given warm greetings and congratulations from members of Stan State’s administration, faculty, and student leadership.
Dr. Richard Ogle, the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, was the first to take the stage to welcome both the graduates and the audience, to acknowledge the university’s place on the unceded lands of the Yokut people, and to introduce music major Charles Farwell, who performed the national anthem and Stan State’s Alma Mater song.
“Look around you and remember this moment,” Ogle said, “In the time you are with us this morning, adorned in your regalia, you are going to transition from students to Stan State alumni.”
Ogle also extended a thank you to the university’s faculty, its professors and its lecturers, for their hard work and valuable knowledge.
“I also want to acknowledge a group of very important people,” Ogle said, “And that is our absolutely exceptional faculty. To my colleagues, thank you for your brilliance and your dedication. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us all, thank you for guiding our students through our academic journeys against extremely difficult circumstances over these last several years.”
Provost Ogle then ceded the stage to Interim President Susan E. Borrego, who greeted the livestream by holding out her phone and panning across the audience, asking the crowd to wave to the viewers with her.
Interim President Borrego joined CSU Stanislaus last August, having served at two other CSU campuses before. However, she was unfamiliar with Turlock and the Central Valley.
She said that the university’s student population of majority first-gen students, making up over 70% of the student body, made her want to spend the year here during the transition between presidents.
“I had no idea how much I would enjoy the campus community, the Central Valley. People have heard me say that I feel like I went on a blind date and fell in love,” Borrego said.
Borrego recapped some of the most memorable moments of her time here at Stan State.
“Visiting the observatory to view the supermoon, the 6:30 a.m. breakfasts at Kiwanis, welcoming the mayor of Turlock and her staff to campus, experiencing the almond harvest and then seeing the spring blooms for the first time, and so much more. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for less than a year,” Borrego said.
Borrego acknowledged with good humor that these graduates will not remember who their speakers were or what they said, but did ask them to remember one thing.
“But if you remember one thing, and somebody asks you what you remember from your graduation, remember that you, our graduates, are being celebrate for who you are, and you have the opportunity to change the world every single day,” she said.
The College of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
The May 28th Commencement Ceremony saw the graduates of the College of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences be recognized for their hard work and be awarded their degrees, feeling enthusiastic about moving to the next chapter of their lives as Stan State alumni.
The Speaker of the Faculty was Cassandra Drake, an assistant professor of Liberal Studies. 
Drake noted the difficult times both students and faculty went through during the global pandemic, but said she felt proud of how the campus community pushed through it all.
“We made it work and you rose to the occasion,” Drake said, “But we missed you. Your faces, your smiles, your presence in our classrooms. You are the heart of this campus, our pulse, and the reason we are all here. You are truly Warriors. You made it through, and because of you, so did we.”
She, too, ended her speech with a warm congratulations to the students of her college.
“This degree can never be taken away from you,” Drake said, “The conferral of this degree provides you with not only the title of graduate, but a shared sense of pride, strength, and accomplishment. So the answer can, and always will be, that you are Central Valley strong, you are a graduate, and you will always be a Warrior.”
Cassandra Drake then introduced the college’s student speaker, Mr. Frank Alvarado, who is earning his BA in Communications Studies, who she said has the earned the honor of representing the collective lessons and experiences shared by the college’s graduates.
Alvarado, who is graduating from college at the age of 50, was proud to share the stage with his two oldest sons.
“I embarked this journey with a singular purpose: to demonstrate to my children the value of education. Education, I’ve come to realize, is not just a means to an end, it is a journey of self-discovery, a voyage of empowerment. It pushes us to challenge conventions, to question the status quo, and to envision the world brimming with possibilities,” Alvarado said.
In his speech, Alvarado said he wanted to prove to his children that age is never a barrier to growth. He said that his journey wasn’t easy, as he studied long nights after coming home from work, but he’s proud of himself, and says that he stands as a symbol of possibility.
Alvarado asked the graduates to keep their curiousity alive and their minds ever expanding.
“As we celebrate this milestone together, let us never forget that the journey does not end here. Today is merely the beginning of a new chapter filled with infinite possibilities,” Alvarado said.
The College of Science
At the May 29th Commencement for the College of Science, Interim President Borrego introduced Donna Pierce, who’s been part of the Stan State community for over 50 years, to award her an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for her dedication to community service and to the campus community.
Donna Pierce arrived in Turlock in 1971 when her husband, Wayne Pierce, was hired on as a professor of botany. In the years since, Donna Pierce has served as a coach for Stan State’s softball team, has been a clock keeper for Stan State basketball games for 25 years, and has worked hard to established the Transcalifornia Pathway, the arboretum on campus.
The Transcalifornia Pathway is even named in Wayne and Donna Pierce’s honor.
In her speech, Donna Pierce reminisced at length about her life and her time spent in Turlock with her husband.
“So many people who have helped me on this journey have been here since they were student here,” Donna Pierce said.
Donna Pierce gave well-wishes to all of the graduates.
“You’re all starting out, you’ve got a good education from a wonderful university, and I just hope that you are on your way to make the world a better place,” she said.
The student speaker for the College of Science was Ms. Arianna Carlos, who is being awarded a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences.
Carlos spoke about some of the judgment she’s faced growing up in Stockton.
“When I introduce myself, I often get asked, ‘Where are you from?’ I say, ‘Stockton.’ And get responses like, ‘The ghetto?’ or ‘Girl, you’re from the hood?’,” Carlos said, “But regardless of the response, I have immense pride in the city I was raised in, because it has helped shape me into the woman I am today.”
Like many other graduates in the crowd, Carlos is a first generation student.
“Being first generation and coming into the world of science is not an easy feat. We have the immense obstacle of trying to prove ourselves and others to be capable of enough. But here you are today with this amazing achievement,” she said.
Carlos remarked on how she used to feel insecure about how hard she had to work to grasp the material in her courses. She talked about how she’s grown and pushed past her anxiety and self-doubt, and said she’s become a woman who’s willing to take risks.
Carlos is passionate and driven to give back to the community that’s shaped her into this new person.
“My involvement in mentoring, research, and advocacy confirm my love for science. It is through community ties that give us the opportunity to uplift one another and support our dreams,” she said.
The College of Education, Kinesiology, and Social Work
At the May 30th Commencement for the College of Education, Kinesiology, and Social Work, Interim President Susan E. Borrego awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to Wanda Bonnell for her work on the Stan State Promise Scholars Program, which she started in 2006 to support foster children and emancipated youth through college.
“The students she has touched and inspired from the university service region and beyond bear testament to the profound significance of her work,” Borrego said.
Bonnell then took the stage to speak, where she encapsulated her past 30 years at Stan State as both a student and a staff member and remarked on the value of education.
Bonnell also spoke about how, in 1989, she was chosen to speak at MJC’s commencement ceremony, and was the first African-American speaker in its 68-year history up to that point.
Speaking at this commencement reminded her of that moment.
Bonnell went on to discuss the values she had in mind when establishing the Promise Scholars program.
“Education has the power to change lives, and that everyone, no matter their background or history, can make a significant impact on the world,” she said.
Bonnell ended her speech by imparting some wisdom onto the graduates of the College of Education, Kinesiology, and Social Work.
“Embrace the challenges ahead, because those life lessons will help you become resilient,” she said.
The student speaker for the college was Dr. Mandel Murray, who just earned his Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership.
Murray centered his speech on a topic which he believed goes overlooked in moments of celebration: Failure.
“Failure is a word that can evoke fear, disappointment, and doubt, but it’s also a word that brings with it great courage, resilience, and hope, even in moments when it is an unwanted companion,” Murray said.
Murray reminisced on his own failures, from barely making it into college due to having a 2.4 GPA in high school to being let go from a corporate position in the NBA because he couldn’t hit a sales number.
Those failures, Murray says, have helped him climb the ladder of the sports industry and achieve no lower than 3.9 GPA over the course of his college career.
“To my fellow graduates, I urge you to embrace failure, not as a foe to be feared, but as a friend to be welcomed. Let us celebrate our failures, for they have brought us to this great moment of triumph,” he said.
Murray encouraged graduates to overcome their fears and take risks in the next chapter of their life, whether that be moving to a new city or beginning a passion project they’ve always wanted to work on.
“Let’s not just learn from our past challenges, let’s actively seek new ones,” Murray said.
The College of Business Administration
The student speaker for the College of Business Administration was Ms. Iris Arellano, who is earning who Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
Arellano weaved a running metaphor that came to her mind while tending to her mother’s garden about how people are plants that need to be taken care of and nourished to thrive.
She said she lives by the phrase, “Whatever you water grows.”
“This doesn’t necessarily refer to plants or flowers, it applies to all things in life,” Arellano said, “The things that you place effort into, work towards, and give time to, are those that will flourish and grow.”
Arellano expressed gratitude at the sacrifices that people’s families have made, including her own, to give them the opportunity to reach this point.
“Our parents, like diligent gardeners, planted the seeds of our future with their sacrifices and unwavering support,” Arellano said, “Many of them leaving behind the comfort of their own country to the sow the seeds of opportunity in foreign soil.”
Arellano described education as the water that fuels and nourishes our growth.
“It has watered the seeds planted by our parents, providing us with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to reach our full potential. It has enabled us to spread our roots, reach for the sky, and blossom into the individuals we are today,” she said.
Arellano then left her graduating class with words of encouragement to push them towards success in their post-college lives.
“Let us embrace the challenges that lie ahead with courage, knowing that we have the strength, the knowledge, and the support of our community behind us,” she said.

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The 64th Commencement of CSU Stanislaus