CSUMB Celebrates the Class of 2016

May 22, 2016

'You will never be in a better place to take risks that will ensure lives of future generations,' graduates told

Photos by Richard Green

California State University, Monterey Bay celebrated its 20th annual commencement on May 21. This year’s celebration took place during two separate ceremonies. Approximately 1,500 graduates were honored. More than 11,000 friends and family members were in attendance during the day.

Graduates of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and College of Business were honored during the 10 a.m. ceremony. Graduates of the College of Science, College of Education, and College of Health Sciences and Human Services were honored at the 3 p.m. ceremony.

Benjamin Jealous, former president and CEO of the NAACP, spoke at both ceremonies. Jealous was recognized with an honorary degree during the morning ceremony. In a passionate address, Jealous reinforced to graduates that their generation is here for a reason.

Benjamin Jealous

Benjamin Jealous

“You are the largest, most inclusive, most environmentally aware and most diverse generation we have ever known,” he said. “You will never be in a better place to take the risks that will ensure the lives of future generations, let alone define your own legend, more than you are right now.”

Jealous concluded by saying “A wise man once said, you are only guaranteed two truly great days in your life. The first you will never remember; it was the day you were born. The second, you cannot make come fast enough; it is the day you find out who you are. So go ahead, pick your mission and fight… were born for greatness. You are the class of 2016!”

Student speaker Elizabeth Hensley, who was honored with the President’s Award for Exemplary Student Achievement, gave her address during the morning ceremony. Hensley talked about past challenges, her late father who inspired her to be a writer and the future.

“The magic we felt here, the synergy, and sometimes static, was real and it will reverberate into future generations,” said Hensley. “We’ve read the books, now it’s our turn to start writing them. Create the story you want to live.”

Also honored with the President’s Award for Exemplary Student Achievement was student Jason Rodriguez, who addressed graduates during the afternoon ceremony. Rodriguez spoke about his experience as a science major and future challenges.

“Whatever we are faced with in the future, take the risk and push yourself outside the comfort zone,” Rodriguez said. “Pushing yourself allows you to figure out what you’re passionate about.”

During the afternoon ceremony, Sylvia Panetta, co-chair and CEO of The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, was also recognized with an honorary degree. Panetta was an instrumental partner in the successful political career of her husband, Leon Panetta, who played an key role in the formation of CSUMB.

“We wanted to turn swords into plowshares. The creation of this university is the result of that dream,” she said. “Now it is your dream. This university is not only responsible for your education but for inspiring hope throughout the entire tri-county area.”

Later during the afternoon ceremony, Marsha Moroh, former dean of the College of Science, was awarded emeritus status for her outstanding service to the university.