MBA, Master of Arts in Education Grads, Distinguished Author David McCullough Highlight Annual Commencement Ceremony

Hooding of Masters Candidates

Filled with anticipation, pride, and joy, some 5,000 strong gathered on the campus of California State University Channel Islands to honor members of the Class of 2006, who, as they marched into the South Quad, were fittingly led by the University's first graduates of master's degree programs.

Representing yet another milestone for the University, the master's degree students carried the banners for the Master of Arts in Education and the Master of Business Administration from the newly created Martin V. Smith School of Business and Economics.

Awaiting to acknowledge and congratulate them were dignitaries, honored guests, faculty, staff, and, of course, family and friends. Representing the CSU Board of Trustees were Dr. Roberta Achtenberg, chair, and Dr. Herbert Carter.

Greeting graduates and guests alike was President Richard Rush, who began by noting that the growth of the University was due in great part to many individuals who were present at the ceremony. "They represent hundreds from throughout this community, from California State University, as well as Sacramento and beyond, who are all committed to one ultimate goal, the success of you, our students," he said.

Rush praised the graduates for overcoming challenges along the way to achieving their degrees. "The perseverance you have demonstrated here will serve you well as you go on to the next chapter of your life," he said. "Through your talent and hard work, you have acquired the tools that you will need--knowledge, teamwork, civic engagement, mutual respect.

"You are now prepared to build the future of your dreams. Wherever those dreams lead you, know that you will always have roots here at Cal State Channel Islands. This is your University and you have helped to create it. And I issue you a standing invitation to continue to be part of the CI tradition in the future. All the best to you today and wherever your future will lead you."

Addressing the Class of 2006--and emphasizing pursuit of knowledge and hard work--were Debra-lee Sawyer, a summa cum laude graduate in English, and David McCullough, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author.

In addressing her fellow graduates, Sawyer commended them for their discipline, strength, patience, perseverance, and for what they've learned. "We've learned that it's not what you get from the journey but what you become as a result of it," she said. "Today is not the resolution of our journey but instead the commencement of our lives."

Sawyer also stressed the responsibility to share their knowledge with others and to become involved with their communities. "We are not just graduates of CSUCI, we are role models, and living testimony to the success of higher education," she said.

"Fellow graduates, our quest was not just to go the distance. On the contrary, we came to CSUCI to be the difference. I am proud to stand among you."

McCullough, the distinguished author known throughout the world for his prize-winning biographies, used his research and writing on the founding fathers as the basis for his talk.

"Taken in all, they were the most brilliant and effective generation of leaders in our history," he said, emphasizing that their greatness was based on three common attributes: "a phenomenal capacity for work, a willingness to serve country at great personal sacrifice and risk, and a lifelong dedication to learning."

For most of the founders, happiness was defined in terms of the life of the mind and spirit, McCullough said, adding that they were all passionate readers of books.

The commencement speaker then offered observations to the Class of 2006. "Be assured you are needed," he said. "Your talent, your vitality, your ideas, your idealism, your proven capacity of hard work are all greatly needed. Prize honesty and common sense. Work hard at whatever you choose to do and enjoy it. Take your work seriously but not yourself ... Don't let skeptics get the better of you ...

"However little television you watch, watch less. You've got much better things to do. Read, read for pleasure, read for happiness ... Read biographies, make Benjamin Franklin's autobiography a must, and yes, carry a poet in your pocket--Whitman, Frost, Edward Arlington Robinson. Read Willa Cather and Flannery O'Connor, and Wallace Stegner.

"And read history, history, history for insight into human nature and as an aid and navigation in these turbulent times ... See as much of the world as you possibly can.

"Take care of your health, count your blessing as Americans and some time, in some way, do something for your country. Warmest congratulations to you all and God speed."