TURLOCK, Calif. — Stanislaus State’s final Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2023 ended in spectacular fashion on Friday, May 26, with celebratory cheers, joyful tears, inspirational speeches and a standing ovation for retiring President Ellen Junn.
The University honored graduates from the College of Science during its third and final Commencement ceremony for the 2022-2023 academic year.
Hundreds of family members, friends, loved ones and supporters filled the University Amphitheater to watch graduates receive their degree. The in-person festivities were livestreamed on YouTube, with 12,883 viewers tuning in to watch the campus’s graduating Warriors.
In her speech to her fellow College of Science peers, student speaker Nina Lydon, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, spoke of perseverance as she shared how she successfully returned to school after quitting community college a decade ago.
“Not finishing my college degree was my biggest regret,” Lydon said. “Fast forward 10 years and two amazing kids later, I knew it was time to finish what I had started. With the help of our amazing faculty, staff, counselors and thankfully (the) Office of Information Technology, this technology-illiterate, first-generation, single mom of two, stands at this podium with an amazing cohort of 2023 graduates.
“Never hide your Warrior Spirit and always seek to continually improve the community around you using the tools we are now equipped with as graduates of Stanislaus State’s Class of 2023,” she said.
In her final Commencement address as Stan State’s president, Junn lauded graduates for their resolve and hard work.
“I am lucky to be amongst some of the most incredible, determined, brilliant, hardworking and extraordinary students – all of you, our graduates,” Junn said. “When you look back on your time at Stan State, remember to congratulate yourself for your ability to persevere, cope and rise to overcome many challenges to get to your graduation day.”
She also showed love to the University she led during the past seven years, capping her 39-year career in higher education.
“I have been extremely fortunate to serve as president of this amazing University and beautiful campus that is an opulent gem in the Central Valley,” she said.
Just before she returned to the podium for the conferral of degrees, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Rich Ogle asked graduates to join him in thanking Junn for her service to the University.
“We get to watch the sun set on a phenomenal career,” Ogle said. “The first Korean American woman to preside over a public university, 39 years in higher education, 36 years in the CSU – seven of them here guiding us...always with a huge heart. She never stopped thinking about Stan State and you and us, and she never stopped caring.”
Junn wiped away tears as Ogle presented her with a floral bouquet and graduates rose from their chairs to give her a standing ovation.
“What a joy it’s been to be with you for the last seven years,” Junn said. “I am so grateful to have been a part of this institution. I will forever treasure my time here. My connection to the University will remain strong because once a Warrior, always a Warrior.”
Stan State recognized 2,988 graduates and 373 credential recipients over two days. Ceremonies for the College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Business Administration and College of Education, Kinesiology and Social Work took place on Thursday, May 25.