Warrior Spirit Shines During Ceremony for the College of Education, Kinesiology and Social Work
May 30, 2024
Graduate holding up diploma cover and cheering

Stanislaus State welcomed a new wave of distinguished alumni to its ranks Thursday, May 30. Graduates from the College of Education, Kinesiology and Social Work took center stage during the University’s third Commencement ceremony honoring the Class of 2024. 

The University’s Amphitheater brimmed with cheers of pride as families, friends, alumni, faculty, staff, community members and well-wishers gathered to celebrate the achievements of the college’s future teachers, social advocates, counselors, kinesiologists, educators and leaders.  

The joyous occasion marked the penultimate day of Stan State’s 64th Annual Commencement exercises, setting the stage for the University’s final ceremony on Friday. 

Thursday’s ceremony featured 658 candidates for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and credential recipients from the College of Education, Kinesiology and Social Work. While the number of graduates was smaller than the two previous ceremonies, the atmosphere was equally vibrant and celebratory.  

Enthusiastic cheers and applause filled the air as graduates entered the venue in their caps and gowns, marking a significant milestone in their educational and life journeys. 

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Rich Ogle served as the master of ceremonies for all the week’s Commencement ceremonies.  

“We are so glad that you are here on this beautiful day,” Ogle said. “This is an amazing sight. I want you to take a moment and look around. Remember this moment in time with you adorned in your regalia.  

“You are transitioning from students to Stan State alumni. You are individuals who care about your fellow community members. I hope you will continue to lead with caring hearts, with your sharp minds and with your Warrior Spirit on display, always.” 

Doctoral candidate with Interim President Borrego in academic regalia

In her address to the Class of 2024 graduates, Interim President Sue Borrego, who has been with the University since last August, expressed her joy for the graduates and their families. 

“I can’t even look at you without grinning,” Borrego said with a wide smile. “We are all here to celebrate your achievement.  

“I also want to take a moment to recognize your village: the parents, grandparents, spouses, partners, children, extended family members, friends and mentors who are here with you today and those who may be tuning in online. We understand this is a special day for them as well. Few people reach a significant milestone like this without support and encouragement from others.  

“I’m filled with pride for you and your families. I’m filled with hope for the power of who you are in the world. We are proud you chose Stan State, and we got to be part of your journey. I also want you to know this: Your presence on this campus changed us, too. It is my honor to have been part of this great institution. You’ve made my time at Stan State unforgettable, and I will always be a Warrior.” 

During Thursday’s ceremony, the University conferred the second of two honorary doctorates being awarded this year to alumna and retired employee Wanda Bonnell.  

Wanda Bonnell, honorary doctorate recipient, at the podium in academic regalia

A first-generation college graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1995 and master’s in education in school counseling in 2010, Bonnell’s service with the University spanned 24 years until she retired in 2017. Her most notable achievement was serving as the founding director for Promise Scholars — a program that supports foster and emancipated youth in their pursuit of higher education — in 2006. 

During her remarks, Bonnell said she was surprised and humbled by the honor. 

“I feel privileged to receive an honorary doctorate from the University that has played a significant role in developing and nurturing the potential and talent of tens of thousands of students who come from many different geographical areas,” Bonnell said.  

“Education is more than just acquiring knowledge. It’s also about transformation and seizing opportunities. This University has a rich history of academic excellence and an unwavering commitment to student success – values that are represented by the graduates here today.” 

Bonnell was one of a handful of speakers during Thursday’s ceremony. During his address, student speaker Mendel Murray spoke of resilience and encouraged his fellow classmates not to let fear thwart their dreams.  

Mendal Murray, student speaker at Commencement

“Never be afraid, always persevere and never give up because the only difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just a little bit of extra,” said Murray, who graduated with a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership. “It is my hope that as we leave here today, you will walk into the battle that is life with your head held high. Remember that all forms of greatness and everything you want to achieve are on the other side of fear. I hope you will take strides every day of your life to halt that fear in its footsteps.” 

Also recognized during the ceremony was the college’s Metzger-Geiger Award recipient, Destiney Margarita Herrera-Sandoval. The Metzger-Geiger Award is presented to undergraduate students with the highest grade-point averages based on their coursework completed at Stan State. 

Over four ceremonies, Stan State will recognize more than 3,371 graduates and 322 credential recipients. Ceremonies for the College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and College of Science occurred Tuesday and Wednesday, and the festivities will conclude Friday with the ceremony for graduates from the College of Business Administration. 

Interim President Sue Borrego with the Class of 2024 in the audience, cheering with streamers