Commencement is here providing us an opportunity to reflect on the reason for everything we do here at Cal State East Bay: first and foremost, our students and their success.
On June 8-10, close to 5,000 graduates will receive their bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. I know that to produce the four commencements for our graduates is a tremendous undertaking. I would like to thank in advance those who have been busy planning these important ceremonies and everyone who will be assisting to make them a wonderful experience for our graduates and guests. Walking across the stage is a milestone deserving of joyous celebration and I appreciate the thoughtful efforts made by all.
I want to highlight three graduates in particular who have shown incredible determination and overcome numerous obstacles to earn their degrees. Isabel Bueso, an ASI Director and Concord student, is one of our exceptional graduates who has beat the odds. As an infant, Isabel was diagnosed with mucopolysaccharidosis type VI, a rare genetic disease affecting one in 25,000 babies. From birth, Isabel was not expected to see her eighth birthday. Today at age 22, Isabel will cross the stage with honors, earning a bachelor's degree in sociology with a minor in recreation.
One of our outstanding student-athletes, Noah Siegel, will also be graduating this weekend. Adopted at a young age, early testing revealed Noah was on the autism spectrum and he struggled in the classroom. But after finding cross country — a sport he has continued to participate and excel in at Cal State East Bay — Noah proved to be unstoppable. He will graduate this Friday with a degree in biological sciences and begin a Ph.D. program in physics at UC Davis in the fall.
We also have nontraditional students such as kinesiology graduate Nelson Harrison who overcame an abusive childhood, addiction and homelessness. His experiences led to a desire to give back and a specific empathy for those in need. In between studying and classes, Nelson found time to run a free public boot camp in Berkeley and serve home cooked vegan meals to the homeless. After participating in commencement on Sunday, Nelson plans to use his degree to give back to others.
I hope you will join me in celebrating all of our graduates’ successes and their determination to persevere through various challenges to earn their degrees.