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Cal State East Bay President Leroy M. Morishita addresses the new graduates.

Cal State East Bay President Leroy M. Morishita’s Commencement Speech

  • June 16, 2015

Welcome faculty, staff, administrators, families, friends, and loved ones, and of course, the 2015 graduates of CSU East Bay. CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES!

Graduates, I am deeply honored to be here with you to share such an important, meaningful, and memorable occasion in your lives. Today, we are honoring those of you who are receiving your degrees and credentials. This year, Cal State East Bay will graduate more than 4,000 highly-educated, well-prepared individuals who will comprise the workforce of the 21st century. 

Today, you assume the mantle of graduates and future leaders. The degrees you receive today are the bridge to realizing your dreams and aspirations. It is your time to go forth and create a better, socially just, and sustainable world for your generation and those that will follow.

I would like to tell you about yourselves: you are a mix of traditional-age and older-age students ­­— a diverse and multicultural community, where many speak English as a second, third, fourth, or even fifth language.

Of those students receiving their master’s degrees:

Your average age is 33;

The youngest of you is 22;

The oldest is 74;

65 percent of you are female;

17 percent of you are international students representing 25 countries;

45 percent are first-generation college students;

And 19 percent of you received your undergraduate degree at Cal State East Bay.

Of those students receiving their bachelor’s degrees:

Your average age is 27;

The youngest of you is 20;

The oldest is 68;

63 percent of you are female;

5 percent of you are international students representing 25 countries;

59 percent are first-generation college students.

Well done, all of you.

Graduates, you have worked hard to manage a varied schedule of daytime, evening, weekend, online, and hybrid classes, as well as work and spending time with family and friends, all with the goal of bringing you to this day of celebration. You came to Cal State East Bay to expand your horizons and enrich your lives, and your experiences here have transformed you forever. This is a fast-changing world and we have prepared you for the future — a future for the jobs that may not yet exist in our ever-changing workforce.

What do I mean by “ever-changing workforce”?

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today’s students will have 10-14 jobs — by the age of 38. Currently, one out of four workers has been with their current employer for less than one year, and one in two, less than five. The top ten ‘in-demand’ jobs in 2014 did not exist in 2004.

Think about that — truly remarkable.

We have prepared you to be the learned individuals that employers and graduate schools will embrace to create a future that we have yet to imagine.

As you leave Cal State East Bay, I would like to share a few, final thoughts with you:

Find your passion and joy in the career you pursue. Whatever your passion in life may be, follow it and do your very best.

Dream BIG! Make plans about what you would like to do and where you want to go. There will be detours, curves, and bumps along your journey. Don’t give up. Learn from them and recognize that other opportunities may arise as a result. But be willing to take risks, challenge yourselves, and do not fear failure. We all fail at something, but the most important thing is to pick yourself up and move forward. 

In whatever you seek to do, make a difference. Through decisions you make in your professional work and personal life, you have the ability to affect the lives of people and organizations/companies locally, regionally, and around the world as it relates to the economy, politics, cultural relations, and environment.   

Finally, give something back. We have engaged you in meaningful civic and service-learning activities at CSUEB; pay it forward by continuing this service to your community. As college graduates, you are now role models through your actions, as well as through the skills, abilities, and knowledge you offer.

The great poet and writer, Maya Angelou, once addressed graduates at their commencement with the following advice: “I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve.” And though she is no longer with us, her wishes for a better world will survive, and will hopefully guide your decisions as they have mine.   

Wherever the future takes you, with your Pioneer pride, your accomplishments, your passion, and joy, you can help create a more socially just and equitable world. 

Before I close, I’d like to take a moment to recognize and honor those who supported you in reaching this milestone moment. None of us reaches our goals without the help and support of others along our journey. Let’s recognize some of the people who assisted you. These include your families, friends, other loved ones, and the Cal State East Bay faculty and staff. If you know where they are sitting, wave to them, and let’s give them a very loud round of applause.

Congratulations to you and your families. I wish you ongoing success wherever your dreams take you. And go Pioneers!

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