Cal U holds commencement ceremonies for those who earned associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in August and December 2019.
Olivia Ebersole spent hours and hours and hours of her college life in the Convocation Center arena, practicing and performing her routines as a feature twirler.
Walking across the stage on Dec. 14 to receive her degree from President Geraldine M. Jones during Cal Us’189th Commencement was brief by comparison, but the joy of that achievement will last.
“I cannot help but feel bittersweet because the excitement to start a new chapter of my life is there, but my Cal U experience is one I will never forget,” said Ebersole a communication studies major who will participate in the Disney College Program next semester.
She joined more than 1,000 students who graduated from Cal U at ceremonies held Dec. 13-14, including the second class to graduate from the Doctor of Health Science and Exercise Leadership program.
Yukiko Suzuki, from Japan, graduated in August 2019, went back to Japan with her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and is working as a counselor but returned to savor the moment in person.
“I wanted to come back,” she said of the decision to return to the University from Tokyo. “I had a wonderful on-campus experience, and it’s great to see all my classmates!”
"Her goal was to return to Japan to work with adolescents experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety and depression associated with social situations and parental pressure," said Dr. Elizabeth Gruber. "The faculty and students were delighed to have her back at Cal U for graduation!"
Evan Gray, of Sarasota, Fla., and his parents came to Cal U for the first time as he received his master’s degree in exercise science with a concentration in sport psychology. A personal trainer, he looks to become a mental skills coach.
“What I want to do entails more stress- and anxiety-reduction techniques and the mental aspect of sport, because I am trying to help athletes reach their full potential,” he said. “This degree will really help build my career, and we’ve loved our visit.”
Alumnus Col. Lance D. Oskey ´93, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Cadet Command, addressed graduates at both ceremonies.
He echoed President Jones’ welcoming remarks by urging the graduates to be lifelong learners and said he was fortunate to be in a profession that requires the pursuit of education and training.
“What you have accomplished today is not your destination but the first step in your journey,” said Oskey, who began his military career at Cal U, where he was an ROTC cadet and a Distinguished Military Graduate.
“You should know by now that education is the super power that allows you to think critically, understand complex problems and create solutions so that you can help your team, your profession and your community.
“Endeavor to accomplishing any mission and please continue to broaden your mind and your perspective by remaining dedicated to the pursuit of lifelong learning.”
A mother of four from Richmond, Va., Sara Dilworth earned her master’s degree in Arabic language and linguistics and will focus on her skills as a medical interpreter.
“This program was wonderful because I could really delve into subjects deeply, and it was self-motivating study,” she said. “I felt a great sense of accomplishment with each assignment and each class.”
Chris Gentile earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and is starting law school after his internship at the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons office in Harrisburg this fall.
"California University has given me the character and confidence to pursue my dream,” Gentile said. “I honestly never thought this was possible. Thank you for allowing me to dream big and grow as a person. It's an honor to be part of the Cal U family.”
Alexis Zosky, chair of the Senior Gift Drive Committee and an alumni ambassador, presented President Jones with a check for more than $15,000 contributed by graduating seniors and their families.
She earned her associate degree in liberal studies and will begin training for emergency medical technician certification.
“As I look back on where I was when I was a freshman to where I am now, a lot has changed for me in many ways,” she said. “My time at Cal U was a big learning experience for me, and I have made relationships with alumni from all over the world which was an amazing opportunity.”
Another graduate using benefitting from lifelong learning at Cal U is Drew Cubic, a registered nurse house supervisor, who works at Mon Health Medical Center in Morgantown, W.Va. He earned his M.S.N. in nursing, administration and leadership.
“This degree helps you fine-tune your skills in specific areas, and for someone not technologically savvy, the online program was fine.”
Military veterans, active and retired, among the graduating classes and in the audience, were also recognized at both ceremonies.
President Jones also acknowledged Taylor Shiann Phillips and Alexander James Murphy for earning bachelor’s degrees and Trudi Anneke Brinkmann for earning her associate degree, all with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
“I am very proud of each of you for your hard work and the sacrifices you have made to reach this point,” she told the Class of 2019. “I know that you will continue to work hard as you enter this new chapter of your life.”
“May you find happiness and satisfaction in the days and years ahead.”