SOE staff and faculty


By Pamela Dean

The end of the academic year usually brings a flurry of ceremonies and events honoring graduates and their accomplishments. Commencement is the highest profile of these celebrations, but there are also myriad smaller, but equally meaningful, pinning, medallion and honors ceremonies that take place across campus in the weeks leading up to graduation.

This year these in-person events had to be cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But some areas came up with creative ways to ensure the hard-earned accomplishments of their graduates did not go unrecognized.

Veterans Medallion CeremonyVeterans Medallion Ceremony
Each spring the Veterans Resource Center holds a medallion ceremony, awarding graduating student veterans with a special medal in honor of their accomplishment similar to those awarded in the military.

This year, the ceremony was held virtually. Seven VIP guests delivered recorded congratulatory remarks including CSUCI President Erika Beck, Vice President for Student Affairs Richard Yao, Naval Base Ventura County Commanding Officer Capt. Jeff Chism, State Assemblymembers Jacqui Irwin and Monique Limon, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Congresswoman Julia Brownley. A slideshow with a picture and information about each graduate was also shown.

In his remarks, Yao noted the class of 2020 had been through so much including the evacuation of campus during the Woolsey and Hill fires, and the Borderline shootings. Yao told the virtual audience the ceremony for veterans’ and their families was bittersweet. “It’s bitter because we can’t be together to celebrate your service and accomplishments. But it’s more sweet because of your perseverance, sacrifice and your leadership.”

Communication Program Capstone GalaGraduation by Zoom
The Communication Studies program held a virtual capstone gala to celebrate the accomplishments of its 100 graduating students.

The event showcased the work of students who engaged in 75 hours of communication-related service for local nonprofit organizations, conducted a full independent research study, or worked as part of the team to plan and execute the virtual capstone gala.

CSUCI alumna Michelle Gatto Withey, (BS ‘11 Communication), Director of International Creative at The Walt Disney Studios, was the keynote speaker. Pres. Beck, the three capstone professors— Drs. Megan Kenny Feister, Katherine Elder and Nancy Chen, and department chair Dr. Christina Smith all said a few words.

“Many faculty from our department joined, and we surprised the students by attending in our regalia (a silly little show of support),” noted Kenny Feister. “The evening was completely planned by students, led by Lauren Hom, Laura Martin, Shawn Esho, Oscar Vasquez, and Tyler Duncan. About 140 people logged into the event, including families of graduating seniors. It was a great evening.”

School of Education Pinning CeremonySOE pins delivered by staff and faculty
The School of Education pinning ceremony began as a new tradition three years ago to recognize teacher education candidates who completed their professional preparation programs.

“We felt even more compelled during the pandemic to honor the incredible work and dedication it took for our candidates to persevere and complete their professional credentials,” explained School of Education Dean Brian Sevier.

In lieu of the traditional in-person ceremony, more than 40 faculty and staff personally delivered gift bags containing the pins and other goodies to the homes of graduating students spread out across Southern and Central California, as far south as Rancho Cucamonga and as far north as Goleta.

In a carefully orchestrated fashion, faculty and staff making the deliveries gathered in a University parking lot to load up their cars with the gift bags before setting off on their journeys. Sevier recorded a video to showcase the pick-up event and put together a slideshow that included photos taken with the students and faculty or staff at the drop off locations.

“We personally and safely delivered nearly 160 pins to freshly-minted early childhood educators, elementary teachers, secondary teachers, special education teachers, and K-12 principals,” said Sevier. “The ‘ceremony’ was an amazing success, with candidates accepting their packages with family members, significant others, and even their pets.”

“I enjoyed the experience so much,” said Lecturer Janet Connor who participated in the deliveries. “Students and parents, boyfriends and brothers, children and bubble friends, etc. were appreciative too. Shout outs from windows and cameras clicking from socially distant people showed how much they appreciated what we did.”

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