California State University, Fullerton

Event Honors Filipino American Class of 2013

Gov. Brown’s Appointments Secretary Delivers Message On Pride, Service

May 22, 2013

Sammy B. Sotoa

Sammy B. Sotoa

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When Mona F. Pasquil became the first Filipina-American acting lieutenant governor of California in 2009, someone asked her, “Is it true? You’re the acting lieutenant governor? No offense, Mona, but you’re nobody.”
That wasn’t the first time she heard such questions, Pasquil told the 50 Filipino American students gathered at Cal State Fullerton’s 14th annual Pilipino American recognition ceremony May 17. She was asked such questions when she worked in Washington, D.C., as western political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs under President Bill Clinton, and again when she was appointed to her current position as California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s appointments secretary.
Pasquil said she’s learned to answer those questions with confidence. “I say, ‘I’m a third-generation Filipina. My grandfather was in the Army. My parents worked really hard and I’ve worked really hard to be here and I’m really proud. Next.”
The point, she told the students who will participate in graduation exercises this week, is “share who you are and acknowledge those who paved the way for you to be here today.”

CSUF President Mildred García and the ceremony’s student speaker Sammy B. Sotoa, winner of this year’s Pilipino American Graduation Celebration Planning Committee’s Outstanding Student Award who is completing his master’s degree in education, echoed Pasquil’s message, which concluded with a charge to “give back and help pave the road for others.”

“As First Lady Michele Obama once said, ‘when you have worked hard and done well and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you.’ You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed,” Sotoa said. “So, fellow graduates, in all that you do, always remember to give back to your community and to your culture.”
García congratulated the students, adding “we want to make sure that you become our ambassadors, you become our voice in telling the world what a great experience you had at Cal State Fullerton. We want you to come back often, tell us all about your successes and all the great things that you are doing.”

By: Mimi Ko Cruz, 657-278-7586

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