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University News

Cal State Fullerton Celebrates
45th Commencement

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BY VALERIE ORLEANS
From Dateline (June 17, 2004)

Under clear skies with flags snapping in the breeze, the heady perfume of floral bouquets, the dazzle of hundreds of colorful balloons and scores of proud spectators on hand, about 8,000 students achieved an important milestone in their lives. They were the 45th class to participate in commencement ceremonies at Cal State Fullerton.

Dressed in black robes – many adorned with flowers – students participated in the two-day festivities that kicked off with universitywide ceremonies featuring keynote addresses by two Titan alumni: Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido on Saturday, May 29, and award-winning mystery novelist Elizabeth George on Sunday, May 30. George received an honorary doctorate in recognition of her philanthropic work and success as an educator and novelist.

“Congratulations and best wishes to all the graduates of the class of 2004 for achieving this educational milestone,” said President Milton A. Gordon. “You have shown discipline, commitment and hard work in pursuing your education.”

Pulido, a 1980 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, described his life in publicservice and encouraged his fellow Titans to seek an active role in their communities.

“When I first started kindergarten at age 5, I didn’t know a word of English,” he recalled. “But as I grew, I learned there are different languages and different disciplines, metaphorically.

“I was working for an engineering firm. I was a vice president and moving ahead in my career. Then my family had a problem. We have a muffler shop in the downtown and they wanted to build a shopping center; so they wanted the shop to go. We didn’t want that to happen. I chose to leave my career and fight city hall. Ultimately, we beat city hall and then I joined city hall!

“Sometimes you have to fight because you have no choice,” said Pulido. “But what I learned is that you have to negotiate, communicate, reach out, find a deal, find a way to get along together.

“As you go out into this world, realize there are businesses and opportunities and institutions all around you. As you take those opportunities, realize you can make a huge difference. You’ll struggle. You won’t know what the next stop will be. But I know every time I take a step, I’m in a new place that makes the next step possible. There’s courage within you. You can be brave. You can move forward. And as you do that, you’ll see that doors will open up. As you go out there, you can make a difference. The world is waiting for you.”

“Change is what I would like to speak about this morning,” said George, who graduated with a master’s degree in counseling in 1979. “We make changes first by asking questions, second by demanding answers that ARE actually answers – and not just the careful iteration of what the speaker thinks we wish to hear – and finally by addressing change in ourselves and then moving that change outward to touch upon others through our altered behavior.

“So I offer you a three step prescription for your future, one I certainly wish had been offered to me … learn to accept, learn to forgive, and learn to move on.

I believe every person here can make a difference and can bring about change, but no person can do that without evidencing the result of that change first and from within.”


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