First doctorates are among the more than 1,100 diplomas awarded Dec. 14-15.
Cal U’s 187th Commencement ceremonies began with a milestone — the first students ever to receive doctoral degrees from the University.
The weekend concluded with another unusual event: the guest speaker’s friend being the final graduate to walk on stage to get his diploma.
Four students —Melody Gardner ´12, Kaman Hung ´08, Richard “Rick” Richey ´06 and Rosanne Woods ´05 — each earned degrees in the Doctor of Health Science and Exercise Leadership Program (D.H.Sc.).
Before conferring degrees to more than 1,100 students, University President Geraldine M. Jones addressed the four doctoral candidates at a morning event where they presented the results of their research.
“You have developed high-level analytical skills and have learned to form solutions to complex, real-life issues,” President Jones said. “Trust in your own abilities and talents, and use them to the fullest.
“You are part of a milestone moment in California’s history and we are very proud of you.”
Alumnus Timothy P. Camus ’84, retired deputy inspector general for investigations with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration in Washington, D.C., addressed graduates at both ceremonies at the Convocation Center.
The final candidate to receive his degree at the undergraduate ceremony was Larry Wallach, who earned an associate degree in industrial technology. He and Camus were Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity brothers in the 1980s.
Wallach, who worked as a warehouse receiver for a coal mining equipment manufacturer that closed two years ago, came back to school on the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.
“How many times, if ever, is the commencement speaker a personal friend of one of the graduates?” said Wallach, who will pursue a bachelor’s degree at Cal U. “It was a challenging semester. It was special to have Tim as the speaker and to see how far he’s come.”
Camus served in the U.S. Department of the Treasury for 32 years and was named deputy inspector general for investigations in 2011. In that role, Camus was responsible for leading and supervising all aspects of the agency’s law enforcement mission.
Camus began both his addresses by showing gratitude to his alma mater.
“The class size, the campus size and the fact that I was held accountable by my professors prepared me for my successful career that I guarantee would not have happened without Cal U.
“Cal U was just right for me.”
Camus offered three tips to the Class of 2018—never underestimate the power of an opportunity, pay attention to detail and have balance in your life.
“Your education is a foundation for your future and your professional lives,” he said. “You achieved this goal today through your determination and hard work.
“You have the keys to control your future — now go out and be the stars of Cal U.”
During the undergraduate ceremony, senior class envoy Blair Madison presented President Jones with a check for more than $15,000 contributed by graduating seniors and their families.
The following Monday, he returned to work as a human resources assistant with UPMC Corporate Services, where he began as an intern while earning his degree in business administration.
“My different experiences at Cal U help me interact with the customers we deal with,” said Madison, who was an alumni ambassador. “Being on stage and then walking across to shake hands and get my degree from President Jones was so exciting, it was almost surreal.”
Aryn Hess earned bachelor of science degrees in biology and in science and technology multidisciplinary studies. She also received associate degrees in technical studies and liberal studies.
“My professors were remarkable, this has been an amazing journey for me, and I’m proud to be a mother of three graduating cum laude,” she said.
Many students who completed their studies online attended the ceremonies on campus, including Samir Jamal Glenn-Roundtree who earned his master's in social science, with a concentration in applied criminology.
He is a member of the U.S. Marine Corps and plans to transition to a job with the Department of the Navy's Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
"I thought it would be tough being a military officer and a full-time online student," Glenn-Roundtree said, "but the faculty and staff in the program were all extremely accommodating."
Danielle Ruzzi earned her degree in communication studies with a concentration in radio and television.
“Cal U has helped me prepare for the real world in many ways and helped me get hands-on experience in my field,” Ruzzi said. “I couldn’t be happier to say I finally did it!”
President Jones offered the graduates some heartfelt advice.
“Although you’ll receive your degree today, please recognize that your education is not done,” she said. “Every day brings new opportunities for learning, and I have always believed in the power of lifelong learning to enrich our lives.”