Pride, jubilation mark the beginning of Commencement 2018

May 21, 2018

By Jillian Beck | Cal State LA News Service

Commencement 2018 began on Monday morning as hundreds of students received their diplomas and joined the ranks of more than 245,000 proud California State University, Los Angeles alumni.  

Guests filled the University Gymnasium, festively adorned with colorful banners featuring the Cal State LA colors, logo and seal. The first two ceremonies highlighted graduate and undergraduate students, respectively, from the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology. The evening ceremony featured undergraduate and graduate students from the Charter College of Education.  

Students, family and friends were welcomed by Cal State LA President William A. Covino. He congratulated the Class of 2018 and encouraged students to energize and empower communities with the knowledge they've learned.  

"That's why today's Commencement is such a monumental day for communities across Los Angeles and for wherever you call home," Covino said. "When you walk across the stage, you're not just walking for yourself. You're walking for the places you love." 

"Along with all that you will remember from your years at Cal State LA, I ask that you remember this advice: Don't be daunted by the heights of your dreams and challenges," Covino added. "During your time here, you've learned how to reach the top." 

His remarks were met with resounding cheers from the crowd, as he continued and told the students: "Always remember: You are a Golden Eagle and you will soar!" 

Graduates turn their tassels at Commencement After the new graduates turned their tassels, a festive sea of black, gold and white balloons descended overhead covering the gym floor. 

The student speakers for the first two ceremonies were students Kevin Monsalvo, who received a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, and Elizaveta Sokolova, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Ana Ponce, chief executive officer for Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in downtown Los Angeles, addressed students during the Charter College of Education ceremony.

"Believe in what is possible and not probably; don't settle--even against the greatest odds," Ponce told the Charter College of Education graduates. "Thank you for your passion and commitment to public education. Felicidades!"

Outside, the Main Walkway leading to the University Gymnasium was transformed into a Commencement Village featuring food booths, vendors and special photo areas. After each ceremony, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library North Walkway featured a lively reception for graduates and their friends and loved ones.  

Excited graduates donning creatively decorated caps hugged one another and posed for photos with family and friends. Many were decked out in brightly-colored leis and custom sashes adorned with the names of their academic programs. 

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, Cal State LA graduates celebrate at Commencement 2018. Bottom right, Graduates turn their tassels at the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology Undergraduate Ceremony. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores and 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