News Release| Commencement 2011; Cal State L.A.

Note to news directors and editors: To request a digital photo or to arrange an interview with Todd Tostado, please contact the Public Affairs office at Cal State L.A., (323) 343-3050.

Tostado is not able to attend CSULA’s Commencement ceremony, but he will be honored among other grads at the University’s Office for Students of Disabilities “Class of 2011 Mixer” on Thursday, June 2, 2-4 p.m., in the Administration building, room 127, on campus.

 Despite losing the use of his arms, CSULA student to achieve bachelor’s degree in graphic design

 Alhambra resident Todd Tostado to graduate from CSULA this spring

Los Angeles, CA – Overcoming physical limitations to pursue his dream of a college degree, Todd Tostado—who lost the use of his arms at age 14 as a result of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)—will be receiving his bachelor’s degree in Art at Cal State L.A. this June.

Tostado—who also has been ventilator dependent since he was 9 years old due to chronic respiratory failure—enjoyed drawing as a child, but eventually could not use his hands to draw due to the neuromuscular disease that progressively weakens his muscles. Fortuitously, his parents bought him his first computer during his senior year at Alhambra High School, and there begin his quest to express himself creatively. With assistive technology, he was able to design and create art digitally.

After graduating from high school, he took art classes at Pasadena City College. But, Tostado did not stop there. He wanted to pursue a baccalaureate degree in graphic design at CSULA.

Tostado said, “I chose CSULA for a combination of reasons—one being its location near to my home in Alhambra, and two, traveling long distances with my disability would be difficult on a more than weekly basis. CSULA also has more support resources for disabled students, and easier access to faculty and classes.”

Other reasons are his father graduated from CSULA, both of his siblings have also graduated from Cal State colleges, and Tostado even attended a class at CSULA when he was a toddler.

When Tostado first transferred to CSULA, a team of engineering faculty and students on campus helped to dramatically increase his ability to operate a computer. He acknowledged, “They were able to take two adaptive computer switches and wire them together, so that the computer would read them as a single control.”

The staff in the University’s Office for Students with Disabilities also assisted in converting all his textbooks to digital format by scanning every page in each book. “Being able to read my textbooks without the assistance of someone turning pages saved me countless hours of time, and enabled me to be more independent,” said Tostado.

He continued, “Over the years, I’ve taken several classes with Professor Tony Longson at CSULA. He always goes above and beyond the confines of the curriculum, and encourages students to explore, develop, and express their own unique artistic talents through assigned class projects.”

Now looking forward to the next step in his journey, Tostado credits all the CSULA faculty and staff—and Gonzalo Centeno, disability management specialist, in particular, for being an incredible help throughout his time at CSULA. Tostado said, “Gonzalo helped me to access all of the available and necessary resources needed for my successful completion of my degree, including nominating me for two scholarships. And, he has always been there to help me overcome all of the various obstacles and challenges that I encountered over the years at CSULA.”

For his commitment to pursuing a college education despite personal challenges, Tostado was awarded the Richard E. Lewis Scholarship in 2008 and the Jose J. Gonzales Jr. Memorial Scholarship in 2009 and 2010.

Tostado said, “After graduation, I am looking forward to working as a freelance graphic designer, creating digital fine art and continuing to exhibit my work in gallery shows.” To view samples of Tostado’s impressive work, go to

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Working for Californiaia since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 215,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six Colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to the Honors College for high-achieving students, opening in fall 2011. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.