Families, Friends, Faculty and Staff Celebrate New Innovators and Researchers
May 29, 2024

Stanislaus State continued its Commencement celebrations on Wednesday, May 29, honoring graduates from the College of Science.  

Family members, friends, faculty, staff and guests filled the University’s Amphitheater to cheer on the graduates — who will continue making their mark as nurses, scientists, researchers, computer scientists and innovators  on the second day of Stan State’s four days of Commencement festivities.  

View Commencement ceremonies and photo galleries

Wednesday’s ceremony had the largest number of graduates in attendance, with 856 candidates for bachelor’s and master’s degrees, 89 more than the previous day’s ceremony for the College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. But the mood was just as celebratory. 

During the graduate’s processional, as a recording of “Pomp and Circumstance” echoed across the venue, members of the platform party lined the pathway into the Amphitheater, clapping, waving and cheering graduates as they entered.  

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Rich Ogle served as emcee for the ceremonies.  

Three graduates stand and wave in their academic regalia.

“Graduates, finally, this day has arrived; the day you have been working toward for so long,” Ogle said. “You represent the culmination of years of hard work, dedication and perseverance. You have overcome numerous challenges and obstacles to reach this moment, and you should be immensely proud of your accomplishments. 

“As you prepare to begin a new chapter in your lives, I am so excited to know that our world now has more than 3,000 additional well-educated Stan State Warriors heading out to lead the way.” 

During her remarks to the Class of 2024 graduates, Interim President Sue Borrego, who joined the University last August, said that being a member of the campus community “has been a privilege.” 

Borrego said before her appointment as interim president, she really didn’t know much about the Central Valley or Stan State.  

“But with more than 70 percent first-gen students, I knew I wanted to join in this work for the year,” Borrego said. “I had no idea how much I would enjoy this campus and community. I have said more than once, it was like I went on a blind date and fell in love.   

“I talked with students for whom Stan State wasn’t their first choice, and now describe not being able to imagine not being here. The evidence of Stan State’s impact in the Central Valley is indisputable; we are a transformational partner in the quality of life here. 

“When I look out at you, graduates in your caps and gowns, I am full of pride for you and your families. I am full of hope for the power of who you are in the world.”   

Donna Pierce and Wenda Fong
CSU Board of Trustees Chair Wenda Fong hoods Honorary Doctorate Recipient Donna Pierce. 

During the College of Science ceremony, the University conferred the first of two honorary doctorates being awarded this year to Donna Pierce, a member of the Stan State community for more than 50 years.  

“When I arrived at Stan State and was getting to know the campus and community, I heard about our Donna, everywhere I went,” Borrego said, as Pierce stood beside her. “I sat at ballgames with her, and people would always stop to say, ‘Hi.’ As I got to know her, I experienced for myself the power of her years of multiple contributions to the lives of others. It is a highlight of my career to recognize Donna Martine Pierce with the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.” 

California State University Board of Trustees Chair Wenda Fong attended Wednesday’s ceremony and presented Pierce with her diploma, and both Fong and Borrego hooded Pierce, who then addressed the crowd. 

“It’s amazing for me to be here,” Pierce said. “I thank Dr. Borrego, Provost Ogle and everybody who was responsible for making this possible. You know, it does take a village. So many of the people that helped me on this journey have been here since they were students. So, this for me is just incredible.” 

Pierce was among several speakers who addressed the crowd.  

In her remarks to her fellow College of Science peers, student speaker Arianna Carlos lauded her hometown of Stockton and those who inspired her to pursue higher education.  

“Like many of you here today, I, too, am a first-generation student who was raised by immigrant parents,” Carlos said. “Our parents have embodied the definition of resilience, hard work and love. During my time at Stanislaus State, I have met many extraordinary individuals who exemplify those same qualities. We all came into this journey with the same passion and curiosity for science.  

Arianna Carlos
Student Speaker Arianna Carlos, Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences.

“Your determination has helped you to the finish line,” she continued. “Being first-generation and coming into the world of science is not an easy feat. However, I looked back at how far I have come. I was a girl who had no clue what her passions were, and I was controlled by my anxiety. I have now blossomed into a woman who isn’t afraid to take risks even though I might fail. The hard work taught me that I am a very fortunate person to not only be given the opportunity to pursue my education, but to also continue growing every day.”  

Also recognized during the ceremony was the college’s J. Burton Vasché Award winner, Cecilia Alvarez, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences, and its four Metzger-Geiger Award recipients going to undergraduate students with the highest GPAs based on their coursework completed at Stan State: 

  • Guadalupe Aguiniga, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology; 
  • Carolyn Grace Gallella, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology;  
  • Hussein Maatouk, Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and  
  • Ally Samantha Watkins, Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences 

The College of Education, Kinesiology and Social Work and the College of Business Administration will hold ceremonies on Thursday and Friday, respectively.