❮   all STORIES
From left, Drs. Richard "Rick" Richey, Kaman Hung, Rosanne Woods and Melody Gardner.

DEGREES MAKE HISTORY

University Awards First Doctorates at 187th Commencement

Winter graduation ceremonies began with a historic moment, as the first doctoral degrees in California’s 166-year history were awarded. They closed the next day with emotion, as the Commencement speaker embraced a longtime friend.

Before conferring degrees upon more than 1,100 students at Cal U’s 187th Commencement, University President Geraldine M. Jones addressed the groundbreaking doctoral candidates – Melody Gardner ’12, Kaman Hung ’08, Richard “Rick” Richey ’06 and Rosanne Woods ’05 – at a morning event where they presented results of their research.

That evening, each was awarded a Doctor of Health Science in Health Science: Exercise Leadership.

“You have developed high-level analytical skills and have learned to form solutions to complex, real-life issues,” President Jones told the foursome.

“Trust in your own abilities and talents, and use them to the fullest. You are part of a milestone moment in California’s history.”

MBA student Mohamed Bountoulougou enjoys the music at Manderino Library.

DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER

Timothy P. Camus ’84, who served in the U.S. Treasury Department for 32 years, addressed graduates at ceremonies Dec. 14 and 15 in the Convocation Center.

Camus retired as the deputy inspector general for investigations with the office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, in Washington, D.C. In that role, he was responsible for leading and supervising all aspects of the agency’s law enforcement mission.

During his law enforcement career, Camus investigated domestic terrorism groups, death threats made against public officials, bribery, extortion and other aspects of internal corruption and white-collar crime involving the IRS.

As a career member of the Senior Executive Service, he received the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service. And the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service awarded him a medal for dismantling an international telephone impersonation scheme that cheated some 10,000 Americans out of more than $54 million.

Commencement speaker Timothy P. Camus '84 makes his way to the stage.

It all started at California, he told the graduates.

“The class size, the campus size and the fact that I was held accountable by my professors prepared me for a successful career – one that I guarantee would not have happened without Cal U.”

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 have the keys to control your future. Now go out and be the stars of Cal U.”

Master's degree candidate Tahaney Al-Balawi is recognized for her military service.

FRATERNITY TIES

At the undergraduate ceremony, Camus stepped forward to greet the final candidate to receive a diploma – Larry Wallach, who earned an associate degree in industrial technology.

He and Camus were Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity brothers in the 1980s.

Wallach came back to school through the Trade Adjustment Assistance program after his former employer, a coal mining equipment manufacturer, closed two years ago.

“How many times, if ever, is the Commencement speaker a personal friend of one of the graduates?” said Wallach, who intends to 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.”

Cal U President Geraldine Jones: 'Every day brings new opportunities.'

DETERMINED TO SUCCEED

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.

Two days later, he returned to work as a human resources assistant with UPMC Corporate Services, where he’d completed an internship while earning a business degree.

“My different experiences at Cal U help me interact with the customers we deal with,” said Madison, a former 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.”

One after another, graduates shared stories of determination and triumph. Aryn Hess, the mother of three, earned two associate and two bachelor’s degrees, with honors, from the College of Science and Technology.

Shantel Hammond, of Pittsburgh, Pa., shows off her business administration degree.


First Lt. Samir Jamal Glenn-Roundtree, of the U.S. Marine Corps, served as a military officer while studying applied criminology online. Before transitioning to a job with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, he traveled to campus to accept his hard-won master’s degree in person.

Danielle Ruzzi couldn’t stop smiling as she received her degree in communication studies, with a focus on radio and television.

“Cal U helped me prepare for the real world in so many ways,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier to say I finally did it!”

Before they departed, President Jones offered the graduates some heartfelt advice.

“Although you’ll receive your degree today, please recognize that your education is not done. Every day brings new opportunities for learning.”

About the Author