TURLOCK, Calif. — May 31, 2013 — California State University (CSU), Stanislaus, added more than 2,800 graduates to push its alumni base well past 50,000 during three commencement ceremonies over the past two days.

Approximately 800 doctoral, master's and credential students participated in a commencement ceremony Thursday evening, the first time a third ceremony was added to the festivities. The 2,000 students receiving bachelor's degrees did so in a pair of ceremonies today.

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The university's 53rd annual commencement was the first for new President Joseph F. Sheley, who was named interim president last summer and appointed as president by the CSU Board of Trustees in May. In his remarks, Sheley offered encouragement to graduates entering a challenging job market.

"Many people will tell you that a college degree is not worth the effort you put into it; I am here to say they are flat-out wrong," Sheley said. "Stanislaus graduates are well known for their practical approach to professional responsibilities, no matter what their major is. Employers love our grads. They hit the ground running."

Andreanna Marshall, receiving her Master of Business Administration degree, was the student speaker during Thursday's new ceremony for graduate students. She said her class will go on to distinguish itself in more significant ways, as well.

"We are special because our class has a natural desire to be greater than our measures, our means, our circumstances and even our own ability," Marshall said. "We work hard to achieve things others aren’t inclined to even bother with. We have dreams and goals that others think are too big and unattainable, but that’s only because they don’t have the vision we have."

Katie Billiet, receiving her bachelor's degree in English, was the student speaker at today's first ceremony, which celebrated graduates from the College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Education.

"Everything that we’ve encountered in our time at CSU Stanislaus has constructed the path that got us to this point," Billiet said. "And regardless of how scared we were at times, we never let the fear of falling stop us on our journey upward. We were brave and persevered no matter what we had to overcome to get here."

Today's second ceremony honored graduates from the College of Business Administration and the College of Science. Patrick Akin, receiving his bachelor's degree in biological science and offering the final student speaker remarks, likened his graduating class to a family.

"In the big picture, we are lucky to be here, to receive an education and possess a degree from a university," Akin said. "Not everyone is as fortunate as we are. This unique day has brought us all together, as a community and as a family. We have a chance to become invested in one another for our security and well being. It starts here, today."

The university also began a new tradition of honoring Golden Grads, those who graduated 50 years ago, with two members of the Class of 1963 on hand during today's ceremonies. In addition to the conferring of degrees, a number of awards were presented during the commencement ceremonies:


  • The award for Outstanding Professor for 2012 was presented to philosophy Professor Andy Young.
  • The Geiger-Metzger Award, presented to the graduating student with the highest undergraduate grade-point average in courses completed at CSU Stanislaus, was awarded to communications studies major Kenneth Mashinchi.
  • The J. Burton Vasche Award, presented to the graduate who displays the highest standards of leadership, service and scholarship throughout his or her college years, was awarded to mathematics major Jessica De Silva.