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College Ceremonies Punctuated With Cheers, Tears and Thanks

May 18, 2014

Young lady in cap and gown and rainbow-colored stole

Alma Lorenzo addressed the commencement ceremony Sunday for ethnic studies and philosophy majors in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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Students, professors and administrators who stepped to the podium Sunday during Cal State Fullerton's college and department ceremonies not only offered advice, but also pointed to the contributions of family in helping to make it possible for members of the Class of 2014 to graduate.

Exuberant family members and friends, many bearing balloons and flowers, seated in the audience amid blooming Jacaranda trees watching an outdoor ceremony or inside a theater or gym, cheered and shouted words of encouragement as the grads' names were read when they crossed the stage or stood before a microphone. 

Mihaylo College of Business and Education

Twin brothers, James and Ryan Fratzke, who addressed those assembled at the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics ceremony, spoke of their parents: "Our mother is the definition of a dreamer," said James. If you look up the word dreamer in the dictionary, you would find a picture of her. ... She always taught us that no dream was too big, and if you are shooting for the moon, you're not shooting far enough.

"Our father, on the other hand, taught us strong follow-through, hard work, ethics and how to look at things in a practical way," said Ryan. "Our parents shaped our personality, and Mihaylo taught us the language of business. We have spent our time at Cal State Fullerton learning, understanding and applying our knowledge, and I am proud to say that James and I are the first in our immediate family to graduate from college," Ryan added.

College of Education

CSUF President Mildred García, also a professor of education, addressed the College of Education graduates Sunday, telling them, "I am completely committed to the work that you do."

García told the master's and doctoral candidates how critical they are to the state and nation: "No matter where you are in the educational enterprise, you are educators. And as educators, you are touching the heart, soul and minds of our children and adults that you will educate — and that is an awesome responsibility, but it brings such joy. I thank you on behalf of California; I thank you on behalf of the nation for being the people that educate the populous of our wonderful, diverse country. Congratulations! I am so proud of you."

Claire C. Cavallaro, dean of the College of Education, likened the college's Class of 2014 to the Titan athletes whose national honors adorn the gymnasium where the ceremony was held.

"Now when you look at the floor of the Titan gym, you'll see an equally impressive array of outstanding educational champions — women and men who have worked extremely hard to win an academic degree. "These grads have the particular distinction of being the current and future leaders in what often is described as the most important profession, the one that makes all other professions possible — and that is, of course, education. Educators have a critical influence on all of us."

Cavallaro also lauded the college's students for their accomplishments, including this year's doctor of education in educational leadership (PreK-12 leadership and community college leadership concentrations) grads. The dean described Douglas Jeffcoat, who earned his master's degree in education with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction, as one of the many examples of high-achievers. Jeffcoat has been named a 2014-15 Fulbright U.S. Student Award recipient and will spend a year in Colombia, teaching English and conducting service work with underprivileged children.

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

The ceremony for those graduating with degrees in ethnic studies and philosophy was highlighted by the remarks of four graduating seniors representing African American studies, Asian American studies, Chicana and Chicano studies and philosophy. At times speaking through tears, they recounted their life's experiences and struggles to attend and then graduate — some as the first in their family to do so — and saluted their families for their sacrifices.

"Their joy is my joy; their success is my success," said Alma Lorenzo about her family members, who were there Sunday to celebrate with her. Graduating with a bachelor's degree in ethnic studies-Chicana and Chicano studies, she plans to return to her alma mater to pursue a teaching credential. Lorenzo credited her professors with developing her skills of "critical reading, critical writing and critical thinking."

As Torrell Foree strode to the podium to deliver his remarks, a shout of "my boy!" could be heard from the audience, and Force replied: "My mama!" The winner of three awards at graduation for academics and community service, Force will return to campus in the fall to pursue a master's degree in education.

"The past six years have been the best experiences of my life," he said, speaking of what he learned taking courses across the spectrum of disciplines in ethnic studies, awakening him to the circumstances and points of view of others. He also credited his father with telling him as a child that "it was cool to me smart."

College of Engineering and Computer Science

Raman Unnikrishnan, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, titled his talk to the graduating class, "It's a Jungle Out There!" reminding them, "You must know when to play your cards and when to fold." "I urge you to read and read widely — from silly romance novels and crime fiction to serious work on history, science and biography. This will feed you with wisdom and common sense with which you can gain experience without making expensive mistakes."

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