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25,000 Celebrate Saturday, More Coming Sunday

May 25, 2013

Marc Cherry

Marc Cherry, Class of '95, delivered the keynote address May 25.

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It was a day when thousands of Cal State Fullerton graduates moved the tassels on their mortarboards from right to left to the cheers of family and friends, enthusiastically waving balloons and banners in celebration.

Before the weekend is over, about 50,000, plus more than 8,000 wearing caps and gowns, will have attended commencement ceremonies held over two days throughout campus.
Saturday's events were marked with inspiring speeches and keynote addresses complete with advice, words of wisdom and hearty congratulations.
Emmy Award-winning producer of "Desperate Housewives" and CSUF alumnus Marc Cherry ’95 (B.A. theatre arts) delivered the keynote address at the main commencement ceremony.

"No matter how much this degree means to you, it means even more to the people back there," he said, waving his arm toward the families and friends seated at the far end of the athletic fields, where the 8 a.m. ceremony was held.

"You've done a good job in making them happy today. ... This commencement ceremony is the day you become adults. You are responsible for yourself.

"This is your 'on your mark, get set, go' warning. You have no idea how quickly the next 30 years are going to pass.

"Your youth is on loan to you so go after your dreams now because tomorrow might be too late.

"Secondly, one day all of you are going to fail, probably more than once. ... We call that experience. Failure is how we learn."

Cherry recounted one of his own failures — the launch of a television program called "The Crew."

"I believe one critic called it the worst new show of the season," he said. "It really was bad, but from that experience, I learned how to write a different kind of show ... and that became 'Desperate Housewives.' So remember, all of you will fail, but I hope you learn from it.

"Finally, I'm going to leave you with a quote from the Bible: 'Honor thy mother and thy father,' he concluded.

"Have you ever thanked them? I had a three-year period when nothing was happening and my mother kept writing me checks. I figure over that period of time, she probably gave me $100,000.

"When 'Desperate Housewives' became a success, I was able to pay her back, and I remember saying, 'Aren't you lucky that I figured out how to get myself out of trouble?'

She just looked at me and said, 'I'm not lucky. I knew what horse I was betting on.' "

Cherry want on to remind the soon-to-be grads:"Parents are the only people on this planet who will put your needs ahead of their own."

He also shared that "last June, I bought my mother a house and that brought me great joy. I know your parents hope many of you will have that sense of joy," he said as the crowd burst into laughter.

"I know you worked hard to get here," President Mildred García told the Titans assembled in their black caps and gowns, "and I would like to share three things with you:

"First, keep on learning. Your degree will open doors for you.

"Second, give back to others. Many people supported your efforts and it's your turn to help others.

"Finally, remember your alma mater. As alumni, you are our ambassadors to the world. Continue to do your very best. Go out and make us proud!"

Following the main ceremony, families and students spread across the campus to attend college or department-specific ceremonies.

“I can’t even imagine my life without this college experience,” said Chelsea Devere, one of four student speakers at the College of the Arts ceremony. She spoke of spending 10 years completing her bachelor's degree, trying various majors before settling on the creative photography concentration in art. All four graduating seniors praised their faculty members and echoed one of the day’s common themes — thanking parents and other family members for their support.

"They have helped make this happen,” noted García, who also spoke at the College of the Arts gathering. "It means so much to us that you have joined us for this ceremony; we are truly honored by your presence.”

José L. Cruz, provost and vice president for academic affairs, told students at the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, "There's nothing like commencement. It's the culmination of this important time of your lives. It's your time to imagine your future selves."

Also participating in that ceremony was former CSUF President L. Donald Shields, who applauded Maria C. Linder, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, for being the first recipient of the L. Donald Shields Excellence in Scholarship and Creativity Award.

Besides lauding Linder, Shields shared advice he received from his mentor, the late chemist Arnold O. Beckman, founder of Beckman Instruments: “He said, ‘there is no satisfactory substitute for excellence.’ If you all practice that particular rule of Arnold Beckman, we’ll all be better off.”

View more commencement photos.

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