Cal State Fullerton’s 2022 Commencement continued Tuesday with ceremonies for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, College of Health and Human Development, and College of the Arts. Ceremonies took place at Titan Stadium and the intramural field.
College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
The graduating class of mathematics and science majors entered Titan Stadium to the “Pomp and Circumstance” graduation march playing over loudspeakers, and to a cheering crowd of family and friends.
CSUF President Fram Virjee, Dean Marie Johnson and Faculty Marshal Nicholas Brubaker led the processional of faculty members and the Class of 2022.
Johnson noted that education is the “great equalizer” in society and “no better, surer path to opportunity exists than higher education.”
“This is why graduating from college is a particularly special event for you who are the first in your immediate families to obtain a baccalaureate degree,” she said, noting that 474 undergraduate and 104 graduate students are earning their mathematics and science degrees.
Johnson then asked graduating students who are the first in their families to earn a college degree to stand and be honored. Guests broke out in applause and whistles in praise of their accomplishments.
As scientists and mathematicians, Johnson shared how college faculty are committed to working side-by-side with students in the pursuit of the unknown and the thrill of discovery.
“We debug code and stare down microscopes knowing, on any given day, we might discover something wondrous.”
As the graduating seniors and master’s students prepare to step into the next chapter of their lives, Virjee retold a parable about scientist Albert Einstein. While teaching math, Einstein wrote one equation incorrectly — and the class laughed at him for his mistake.
“How often do we only see the mistake in ourselves or someone else? We forget the positive and can only focus on the error; however, nothing in life is perfect. Nobody is perfect.”
Virjee told students the only way they won’t make a mistake is by doing nothing.
“Moral of the story? Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not enough. You are enough. Remember all you have accomplished over the last few years.”
Student commencement speaker Tahj Stewart graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biological science, but early in his studies had doubts about pursuing the rigorous major.
“I can now say the biology major chose me. It was a hard, sacrificial, sleepless and arduous process, and standing here today was not an easy feat and took strong mental commitment. But I can say, it has been worth it.”
Stewart thanked his parents and sister, a Titan alumna, for their support, and college faculty and staff for their guidance and inspiration. Their encouragement reinforced his love for science and his goal to become a medical doctor.
He likened the many twists and turns induced by the COVID-19 pandemic to a high velocity roller coaster ride. The pandemic, he said, “Threw us and the rest of the world into a radical, social and educational change, causing two very unorthodox years spent at Cal State Fullerton.”
Stewart then asked everyone in attendance to pause for a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives to the coronavirus.
“As science and math majors — the future doctors, engineers, nurses, scientists, statisticians, physician assistants, environmentalists, physicists and those in other careers in our field — we need to remind ourselves constantly to keep our love for others high, our ethical integrity high and our passion high. We are the ones who will change the world.”
Ashley Scholder, married and a mother of three, in her commencement speech recalled how she went back to college to earn a bachelor’s degree in geology as an older adult to “make her family proud.”
“As a mature undergraduate, I was concerned about being accepted and fitting in across the apparent age gap. But, to my delight, from the very beginning, my peers laughed at my outdated jokes and my love of a well-constructed Excel spreadsheet,” said Scholder, a draftsman turned geologist at age 43.
“Those small acts of kindness bridged any imagined age gap. With that supportive mindset, we reveled in each other’s successes and supported each other through temporary failures — a true team was built.”
Scholder is graduating cum laude and is the recipient of the 2022 Outstanding Academic Achievement, B.S. Geology Award. She also was awarded the Beardsley-Kuper Field Camp Scholarship from the Association of Engineering Geologists (AEG) Foundation, which will provide full tuition for a monthlong field camp this summer.
In closing, Scholder told her fellow graduates that “science is at the forefront of society, and natural sciences and math are more important than ever before.”
“With CSUF as our diving board as we leap into the future, I hope we use our connection made here and the education we received to make something substantial happen for the human race. The tools, the drive, the passion are ours now — let’s use them to change the world one experiment at a time.”
College of Health and Human Development
The College of Health and Human Development honored its Class of 2022 graduates across two ceremonies, conferring degrees in child and adolescent studies, counseling, human services, kinesiology, nursing, public health and social work.
Faculty Marshal Kate Bono, associate dean and professor of child and adolescent studies, led this year’s ceremonies and recognized students graduating with university honors.
Dean Cindy Greenberg congratulated the graduates, discussing the important role they will have as leaders in the fields of health and human development.
“Graduates, you are embarking on a personally and professionally rewarding career path and, if you haven’t already done so, you are about to commence on becoming someone’s hero,” said Greenberg. “Your HHD education has prepared you to make a positive difference in our communities and globally.”
Acknowledging the deep challenges and costs of the pandemic, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Carolyn Thomas commended graduates for their resilience and commitment to “beautiful, challenging and essential” majors, while pursuing a more healthful and just society for future generations.
“It’s true, the pandemic took a lot away. But as the ground underneath you shifted and uncertainty swirled, you leaned into the future,” she said. “The learning you pursued, the focus you held, the determination you showed — it brought you to that future, which begins today.
“Only you as a generation have lived the pandemic as foundational to your education and your first experience of yourselves as practitioners in your chosen fields,” continued Thomas, citing examples of student-faculty research in the areas of body mechanics, health disparities, big data, health politics, stress management, crisis intervention, nonprofit management, social justice and holistic care.
“Trust your voice, trust how these experiences color your views, how they inspire you to interact with others, what opportunities you’re moved to pursue — and perhaps most importantly, what practices and behaviors you are called to question. Your struggles, your empathy, your insights and your care — these will guide you to your final destinations. Congratulations, Class of 2022.”
College of the Arts
They studied and practiced and spent countless hours learning their craft.
Some chose to dance. Others create paintings and drawings, sculptures, ceramics, photographic images and other works of art. Other students learned to sing, act and coax beautiful melodies from a variety of musical instruments.
And on Tuesday evening, they lined up for the time-honored tradition of commencement…the culmination of years of hard work. Multiple decorated mortar boards made it clear that this is the place where one would find the fine artists.
As befits the College of the Arts, the crowd was treated to a special performance of the operatic “Ah! Mes amis” from Donizettti’s “The Daughter of the Regiment” by Ynqwie Zamarippa, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in music.
“Our graduates today join a long-standing tradition of excellence and dedication to the arts,” said Arnold Holland, dean of the College of the Arts. “This evening marks a milestone occasion, and one which reflects the long hours of dedication and hard work of the newest alumni of Cal State Fullerton.”
President Fram Virjee also greeted the new graduates, congratulating them on their achievement. He then told the story of a young boy who arrived home with a note from his school teacher. His mother then read it aloud to him. The note said the boy was too smart for his school. He was a genius. He would not reach his full potential at this school. The teacher recommended that his mother homeschool him. So she did and her son developed a superior intellect.
Many years later, the son discovered the same note from his teacher that his mother had read to him…but it was decidedly different. This note claimed that he was mentally disturbed, not capable of learning and created so much disturbance that it affected his classmates. It implored his mother not to send him to school any longer but to homeschool him instead.
The subject of that note was Thomas Edison, one of the most famous and prolific inventors of his time. Today, many understand that Edison was hard of hearing and probably had ADHD but we also know he was a genius. If his mother had revealed the real words written in that note and Edison believed them, we might not be crediting him with the invention of the light bulb.
“Don’t let anyone you’re not enough,” said VIrjee. “Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not smart enough, you’re not strong enough, you’re not enough. You determine your destiny, you chart your future.”
Holland also acknowledged the work of parents, faculty members, families and friends, and others who supported these student artists over the years.
“I would like to thank all the parents out there. We know you have driven students to thousands of piano lessons, dance classes, attended countless band concerts, plays, art classes and exhibits. Thank you for your dedication to the arts.
“And to the graduates, I hope you take a second to call, email, write to all those coaches, dance teachers, high school band directors and thank them… because without them you likely would not be here today.”