May 21, 2013
CSUSM Graduation: An Epic Day
Two days. Four ceremonies. More than 11,000 students and their proud families. Commencement at Cal State San Marcos is a whirlwind of activity, of planning and perfecting, of auditions and scripting, of celebrating and crying. And it’s worth every minute.
The CSUSM Class of 2013 was our largest ever — 2,742 students, bringing our total alumni to more than 30,000. Of those graduating students, 41 percent were the first in their families to earn a four-year degree and 1 in 6 graduated with honors. They were also diverse. Nearly 1,100 new alumni come from underrepresented student populations. They are a bright and determined group that will no doubt continue to do good work in our communities and contribute their talent to the growth of our region.
More than 1,150 students strutted across the commencement stage from the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral and Social Sciences, along with more than 350 from the College of Business Administration, 550-plus from the College of Education, Health and Human Services and over 125 from the College of Science and Mathematics. With every name read came the sound of air horns, the shaking of signs and the beaming of friends and family.
As president, it is especially gratifying to know that our mission as a university remains constant: to transform lives through education. I saw it on the faces of the graduates as they walked across the stage and in the brief conversations we had as we posed for pictures. Some truly never thought they would make it through. The challenges of balancing academics with work and family and other obligations sometimes seemed insurmountable. But in my almost decade at the helm of CSUSM, I have learned that our students are, if anything, tenacious. They don’t easily give up or give in.
They are graduates like Leah, a human development major in the College of Education, Health and Human Services. Shortly after moving to Camp Pendleton with her husband, she found out that she was pregnant and that her husband was being deployed. After getting over the shock, she did some research, visited our Veterans Center and enrolled at the university. Her journey was not easy. There were a few starts and stops and lots of tears shed. She was raising her daughter alone, going to school full time and doing volunteer work. But like so many of our students, Leah persevered. And when she walked up to get her degree, her daughter and her husband cheered loudly from the audience. It was a monumental day.
In fact, it was a monumental day for all involved. With the recent and sustained attacks on public higher education, graduation is our moment to prove our worth, to prove why we are needed and how our impact extends far beyond campus walls. The students who leave our university are well prepared to solve critical issues and build better communities. They are job ready and socially aware, and they represent the best of our university. So, congratulations once again to the CSUSM Class of 2013. Your success is well deserved!