11:23 AM

Celebrating on Campus: Class of 2011 Welcomes Graduation Ceremonies Back to Campus

A Class Act – More than 18,000 family members and friends celebrated with CSUSM's Class of 2011 on May 20 and 21, as the University welcomed commencement back to campus after hosting graduation offsite for the last decade. A total of 1,740 graduates participated in the three ceremonies, which marked the 20th annual commencement of CSUSM graduates.The March to Mangrum – Making the processional march from the M. Gordon Clarke Field House / University Student Union to the University’s Olympic-class Mangrum Track and Field, CSUSM graduates walked the scenic path along the athletic fields as Pomp and Circumstance piped through speakers and guests cheered on the Class of 2011.Honored with a Hood – The caps and gowns worn by graduates and faculty are based on the academic regalia used by universities in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Following tradition, graduates earning a master or doctoral degree are bestowed with a hood, which is worn around the neck and down the back. Nearly 120 masters and doctoral graduates from CSUSM were ceremonially donned with their academic hoods on stage at commencement.Elevating Educational Leaders – Among the first ceremony’s graduates were candidates receiving their doctoral degree in Educational Leadership, a joint program delivered in partnership with CSUSM and UCSD. The three-year program, which welcomed its first cohort of regional educational leaders in 2005, celebrated the successful graduation of its fourth cohort, including Dr. Gregory Toya, who shared special remarks at Friday’s commencement.A Family Affair – Over 40 percent of CSUSM graduates are the first in their family to earn degrees. During commencement, CSUSM President Karen Haynes shared, “I find commencement meaningful at a personal level.  I started my own higher educational journey because my father—for whom college was unattainable—understood its value and was determined to provide me with the opportunity to become, like many of you, the first college graduate in my extended family.”Words of Wisdom – Eleuterio Federico Limas, who received his baccalaureate in psychology at the Saturday morning ceremony, offered special remarks on behalf of the Class of 2011. “We all experienced those sleepless nights, drinking those countless cups of coffee while scrambling to meet deadlines,” he said. “Studying for a test that's the very next day, checking our word count, all to find out that the next class day was a furlough… we did not let any of it take our eyes off the dream we had envisioned. Right now there are people looking at us, saying, ‘If they can do it, then so can I.’ To my fellow graduates, I urge you to go out and continue being the living embodiment of determination, so others can see and be inspired.”Major Popularity – Of the nearly 2,400 degrees conferred by CSUSM for its 20th annual commencement, the top awarded major for the Class of 2011 is Business Administration with 430 bachelor and master’s degrees granted to graduates. Following in popularity are degrees in Education, Communication, Human Development, Kinesiology, Liberal Studies, Criminology, Psychology, Sociology, and Nursing.Honorary Degrees – At Saturday’s ceremonies, Cal State San Marcos awarded an honorary degree to retired co-founder of Pardee Construction Company J. Douglas Pardee and internationally renowned actor Jose Yenque. The University recognized Pardee’s lifetime service to the community and his commitment to higher education with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, and honored Yenque’s distinguished achievements in humanitarianism and the arts with an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts.Extraordinary Achievement – Each year at commencement CSUSM recognizes six outstanding students for their extraordinary accomplishments in academic and service endeavors. This year’s awardees include Holly Gerrity (seen on the left), who received both the President’s Outstanding Student Award and the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Award, along with Damien Bertolo for the College of Business Administration Dean’s Award, Gilberto Barrios, Ed.D. for the College of Education Dean’s Award, Vuth Ros for the School of Nursing Dean’s Award, Gina Merchant for the Dean of Graduate Studies Award, and Raisa Alvarado for the Dean of Student’s Leadership Award.Forever a Cougar – With the graduation of the Class of 2011, more than 2,300 Cougars now join the ranks of CSUSM alumni, which after just two decades exceeds 26,000 graduates. CSUSM Alumni Association President Ken Green joined President Haynes in welcoming the new class, inviting graduates to continue their interest in the welfare and excellence of education at the University.Spirit of the Tukwut – ASI President Susana Figueroa (left) and Grand Marshal Dr. Rika Yoshii (right) escort the Class of 2011 in their final recessional through the crowd of guests at the Saturday afternoon ceremony, carrying the University’s two official maces. The informal mace, which was carried by Figueroa, is carved from wood by a member of the Luiseño tribe and recognizes the special relationship the campus has with its mascot, the tukwut.Relive all the memories, browse through more than 350 photos, and watch video highlights from the University's 20th annual commencement by visiting Celebrating the Class of 2011.