TURLOCK — California State University, Stanislaus, saluted its graduates Thursday, with the third and final commencement march set for Friday morning.
The campus waved a “well done” to more than 2,200 degree recipients and 300 new teachers in its 54th commencement. With the Class of 2014, the Turlock university has roughly 54,000 alumni. Each graduate’s name received a dramatic shout-out from theater professors Jere O’Donnell and John Mayer.
Speakers at both the morning undergraduate and evening graduate ceremonies Thursday cheered the “Warrior nation” and announced the class gift would be a large welcome banner to the same. It will be “a legacy of campus pride,” said Associated Students President Mariam Salameh. The gift of the Class of 2014 will hang from the campus library building.
The morning commencement filled more seats, with nearly 1,000 graduates eligible for bachelor’s degrees in the liberal arts. Friday, the College of Business Administration and the College of Science will confer a combined 955 bachelor’s degrees.
Political science graduate Ana Orozco Cortez gave the early address Thursday. The daughter of immigrant farmworkers, the first from her family to go to college, Cortez urged her 2014 classmates to be willing to take risks.
“Fear only restricts us from truly living life,” she said. Ask, travel, learn – “Do it!” Cortez said. “Be fearless Warriors.”
The evening ceremony paid tribute to postgraduate accomplishments. Graduates donned simple cords for teaching credentials, hoods for master’s degrees and three velvet stripes for doctorates. University President Joseph Sheley called the simple braid for teachers “a thank-you in advance for all you’ll do.”
“I do remember how good this day feels,” Sheley told the postgraduate classes. Many balanced studies against the demands of multiple jobs and caring for families, he said, “and my hat is off to you.”
The benefits of education transcend economic doldrums, Sheley said. “The degree or credential you earn, that will be there for you always,” he said. “You have changed your lives in ways you may not have thought you could.”
Sheley returned several times to the theme of pride in their alma mater, and the publicly supported California State University system. “The question is: How do I repay what others have done for me? The payback is really quite simple. It’s talking. It’s advocacy for your alma mater,” Sheley said. “Talk about the lives that are changed.”
The Turlock campus, especially, reflects the communities around it, he said. “This is where all the hopes and dreams of those communities come together.”
Jessie Guerrero, receiving her doctorate in education, gave the evening address. Her group will be the leaders, she said, those who dared to say, “Sign me up!” to the challenge of advanced education.
“Our perseverance and hard work paid off,” she said. “When joined together as a team, there is potential for us to do amazing work. Let’s show the world who we are and where we came from.”