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Be the hero

TV exec tells graduates to shape their own future

Appropriately, the Commencement speaker’s address focused on a story.  

“Every graduate in the audience today can be the hero of their own story,” said Terence Carter, executive vice president of drama and comedy development for Twentieth Century Fox.

Cal U awarded degrees to nearly 1,200 students at its 188th Commencement. Ceremonies were held in the Convocation Center.

“Take inventory of the knowledge you accumulated at Cal U,” Carter said. “Decide what is most important to you and … weave it into your story moving forward.

"You are all staring at a blank sheet of paper upon which to write the story of the rest of your life, in all of its potential glory and possible splendor."

“You are all staring at a blank sheet of paper upon which to write the story of the rest of your life, in all of its potential glory and possible splendor.”

Although he’s not an alumnus, Carter’s own story has ties to the University’s. He is the great-great-grandson of Elizabeth “Jennie” Adams Carter, Class of 1881, California’s first African-American graduate. The speaker stopped to see his ancestor’s photo and related artifacts in Carter residence hall, which also houses Cal U’s Multicultural Center.

“She wasn’t handed an easy life, but she overcame adversity to grow into a woman of intellect, strength and determination,” Carter told the graduates.

“Jennie started on a path to help those whom she believed were entitled to more than society would readily give them.”

Provost Bruce Barnhart and University President Geraldine Jones personally greet each graduate.


Commencement ceremonies began May 10, when doctoral and master’s degree candidates received their diplomas and were vested in their academic hoods. Nineteen students became the first cohort to graduate from Cal U's Doctor of Criminal Justice program.

Daniel Arnold, a chief warrant officer and mechanic in the U.S. Army, earned his master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion. He’s stationed in North Carolina, and he traveled to Cal U for the first time to pick up his diploma.

“I learned quite a bit about rehabilitation, performance enhancement and injury prevention,” he said. “I am looking to change my career and move into occupational therapy.

"Brett Mohney, a unit director at UPMC Mercy, also earned an advanced degree online. He came to campus to receive his Master of Science in Nursing.   

Beau Stoiff is feeling positive as Cal U undergraduates walk across campus to the Convocation Center.

“This is a big accomplishment,” he said. “It’s very nice to come here and make the physical connection with the place where I earned this degree.”  

Undergraduates received their bachelor’s and associate degrees May 11.

As she had done the evening before, President Geraldine Jones greeted each of the new graduates personally and offered them heartfelt advice.

“Please know that I am very proud of each of you for your hard work and the sacrifices you have made to reach this point,” she said.

“Take in the moment, and savor your success.  You have worked hard, you have persevered, and you have accomplished something significant.”  

Before Commencement, Cal U's first graduates of the Doctor of Criminal Justice program join faculty for a photo.

A New Chapter Begins

Mary Fritz, chair of the Senior Gift Drive Committee, presented President Jones with a check for more than $11,000 contributed by graduating seniors and their families.

Fritz earned her undergraduate degrees in criminal justice and sociology, with a minor in deviance. A Cal U scholarship and a summer internship led to a job with T.W. Ponessa Counseling Services, where she’s working while pursuing a master’s in sociology.

“Cal U taught me the leadership skills I needed to excel,” she said. “I was overwhelmed walking across the stage, because all the hard work that we … put into our classes, clubs and community has paid off.”

Graduate Michael Daye is happy to have a business management degree.

Austin Owens, who studied management and marketing, started an inside sales associate job in June with Bisnow Media in New York.

“Four years ago, I never expected to do all the things that I’ve done here,” he said. “Many people helped me, which is cool. I’m incredibly excited to do something new and experience what’s next.”

Steve Ruffing earned his degree in communication studies, with a concentration in radio and television. The president of CUTV, he covered Vulcans athletics as a camera operator, producer, host, reporter and anchor – and he thought about those experiences during his brief walk across the graduation stage.

“I've gained so much knowledge and experience from this school, it's hard to put into words,” he said. “I am so thankful
for my time here.”

Social work major Dantasia Green joins the procession of graduates.

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