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Community health leader urges Cal State LA graduates to be lifelong learners

May 22, 2018

By Jillian Beck | Cal State LA News Service

Cástulo de la Rocha, president and CEO of AltaMed Health Services Corporation, encouraged students in the Class of 2018 to seize opportunities and be lifelong learners to stay abreast of rapidly advancing technology.

The community health leader delivered engaging addresses on Tuesday during two Commencement ceremonies for the College of Business and Economics at California State University, Los Angeles.

“In 2018, we have the opportunity to teach ourselves what we don’t know. Anything at all,” de la Rocha told hundreds of students who filled the rows of seats at the May 22 afternoon ceremony in the University Gymnasium at the Billie Jean King Sports Complex.

“So never stop reading, never stop learning, and never ever stop investing in yourself. Your education can take you all sorts of places if you never let it end,” added de la Rocha, who also spoke during the college’s evening ceremony.

He recounted his experiences immigrating to the United States from Chihuahua, Mexico, attending Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights and eventually earning a law degree from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. Later, he recalled, he joined an effort to open a small community clinic in East Los Angeles, which has grown to what AltaMed is today, a leading health care system that serves hundreds of thousands of people across Southern California.

“Sometimes, there is no planning your career in advance, because opportunities find their way to you,” said de la Rocha, whose son is a Cal State LA alumnus. “When they do, I hope you grab them.”

Among the guests at the afternoon ceremony was distinguished Cal State LA alumnus and former Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. He attended the event to see his nephew, Matthew Hu, graduate.

A graduate shakes President Covino's handPresident William A. Covino also noted the evolving landscape of society, emphasizing the new graduates’ roles in shaping the future.

“During your time here, advances in technology gave us new power, new potential and new business models,” Covino said. “Technology is fueling innovative forms of entrepreneurship and the sharing economy.”

“Our day-to-day life has become more full of possibilities for personal growth—and more full of tools to solve the vexing problems of our times,” he added. “And you, Class of 2018, you are the creators of tomorrow.”

Nearly 6,000 students will receive diplomas during 14 ceremonies that will run through Friday afternoon. About 40,000 guests are expected to attend the festivities.  

Commencement will also feature an honorary doctorate recipient: Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles.

Kwoh, a champion for social justice and civic engagement, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws during a ceremony for the College of Natural and Social Sciences, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. on May 24. He will also deliver keynote remarks.

For a schedule of the ceremonies and other details, please visit the Commencement webpage

Photos: Above, Cástulo de la Rocha, president and CEO of AltaMed Health Services Corporation, delivers the keynote address at the afternoon Commencement ceremony for the College of Business and Economics. Bottom right, Student Judy Ung shakes President William A. Covino's hand onstage after receiving her bachelor's degree in business administration with an option in accounting. (Credit: Anibal Ortiz/Cal State LA)

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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 28,000 students and has more than 245,000 distinguished alumni.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit