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Undergrad commencement speech

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Welcome to the graduates, and to their families and guests from the faculty and staff at California State University, East Bay. We are pleased to have you join us this morning to celebrate this graduation and the conferring of baccalaureate degrees to more than 2,500 women and men who have completed degree requirements. In our history, the university has awarded more than 95,000 degrees since we granted our first 24 degrees on June 10, 1961.

Each year at this event, I enjoy telling you something about yourselves - the profile of the graduates who will receive degrees today. If you want to see what the future will look like, all you need do is look at the Cal State East Bay student body of today: a mix of "traditional" age students, older students, a majority of people of color and many who speak English as a second, third or fourth language. Of the students graduating today:

Most receiving bachelor's degrees today are changing the traditional image of college students who receive a degree after four years of uninterrupted study, right after high school graduation – and they are in the majority, because only about 20 percent of baccalaureate degrees in the U.S. are awarded to the so-called traditional students.
Most of you have combined your studies with home, work and community responsibilities.

Most of you have worked during your university experience and almost a quarter of you worked 40 hours a week or more during your senior year.    

40 percent have one or more dependents.

42 percent of you spent time each week performing community service.
More than half of you have commuted more than 30 minutes each way to get to your classes.
28 percent of you came to CSU East Bay directly from high school.

Another 57 percent of you began your college careers at a California community college.

The remainder were transfer students from more than 50 public and private institutions in California, as well as institutions in 34 states and 24 foreign countries.

Your average age is 33.

Seven of you are 60 years old or older, and 19 are under 21 years old.

You represent the high school classes of 2003, 2002, 2001 and also classes in the 1950s, and 1960s, and all the years in between.

64 percent are female.

57 percent are people of color.

47 percent are from Alameda County, and 16 percent are from Contra Costa County; others come from San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties; many make your permanent homes in other states or other countries.

The international influence at Cal State East Bay is considerable: about 29 percent of you are California residents who were born in other countries, and another 6 percent are international students on student visas, representing 36 foreign countries.

The largest number of undergraduate majors for this graduating class are in business administration, liberal studies, computer science, communication and psychology.

In total, this class represents more than 50 majors, including some special majors designed by the students themselves to fit their unique needs and interests.

The varieties of the majors, and the variety of the students themselves, demonstrate the great qualities of California State University, East Bay. We are proud to support the quest of all students of all backgrounds to discover and develop their personal potential and career paths.

This year’s class also includes graduating Presidential Scholars. Nine years ago, the university began a merit scholarship program to encourage high-achieving graduating high school seniors to attend Cal State East Bay as freshmen. The scholarships are renewable every year, as long as students maintain high academic standards. We receive financial support from individuals, corporations and foundations. There are now more than 18 students in this important program, and some of today’s graduating students are Presidential Scholars.
All of you, undergraduates, have completed the required number of units and taken the pattern of courses required for your degrees, and have brought your experience at work, in your family and in the community to all of your learning opportunities. Your maturity and successful management of these responsibilities along with your university studies have prepared you well for the careers you seek, and to be informed and productive citizens.  

You are the future. By your hard work and commitment, you now join the community as baccalaureate degree holders. Cal State University, East Bay is committed to serving the Bay Area. You have earned a degree that is recognized throughout the world. This day has many meanings for you, but among them surely should be the place you take in an unbroken chain of people - past, present and future - who sought to educate themselves and one another. And you did it at considerable cost - not just the cost of fees, but the cost of time, energy, distraction from family duties and foregone income. Having looked forward to this day as one that marks the end of all that effort and represents a major milestone in your lives, at the very same moment you take on the responsibility to ensure that similar opportunities are available for those who come after you. We know that you are proud of your personal accomplishments here at this university. Those of us who have observed your hard work and dedication are proud of you, also.

Among the more than 95,000 Cal State East Bay graduates are many individuals who hold prominent positions in the professions, government, science, industry and the arts. I welcome today's graduates most warmly to that alumni family. The completion of a college degree is truly a family accomplishment. I would like to give special recognition to the families of our graduates - will the parents of graduates please stand. Will the grandparents of graduates please stand. Will the spouses of graduates please stand. Will the sisters and brothers of graduates please stand. Will the children of graduates please stand. Will the grandchildren of graduates please stand. A special round of applause!!!  My warmest congratulations go to all of today's graduates. The world needs you. We are very proud of you today and of all the great things you will do.


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