By Toby A. Bushee
Director, Events and Donor Stewardship
CSU Dominguez Hills
Commencement at CSU Dominguez Hills is not one event. It isn’t even the five distinct culmination ceremonies with more than 3,000 graduates in cap and gown crossing the platform to shake the president’s hand and the nearly 30,000 guests who cheer them on as their names are called. Commencement is 37 events in 30 days – a hive of activity that covers the entire campus.
And it takes nearly the entire campus to pull it off each year. Staff members keep order in the midst of that activity, many committing countless hours of their own time because they understand the importance of this occasion for our graduates. From cleaning buildings and grounds to setting up rooms and arranging chairs, from managing technology and printing programs to directing traffic and redirecting lost guests, and making sure graduates know exactly what they need to do when they enter the stadium, they ensure a perfect experience, because while this is each graduate’s big moment, it is our big moment too. It is our chance to show the campus at its best and to provide a send-off for our graduates that is positive and meaningful, a memory held for a lifetime.
I attended and oversaw every commencement-related event this year. One event that particularly resonated for me was the Delores Huerta Graduation Celebration. Students participating in the event all came up to the microphone to share remarks, and evident in those remarks was the team effort behind every degree. Family, faculty and other mentors were all given a shout out.
Especially touching were the stories of others who sacrificed so that the student could succeed. Students thanked parents, siblings and spouses who worked double shifts, took extra responsibilities around the home and delayed their own goals.
These are the stories that make graduation worth celebrating. To think of it, we have so few modern public rituals that mark our progress through life – graduation and its ceremonial commencement – which fittingly means a beginning – is one of them
While nearly 70 percent of our graduates participate in commencement, I really think it should be above 90 percent. So come, celebrate your accomplishments, cheer on your graduate and say goodbye to your students. While doing so, spare a moment to look around and see the staff busy at work presenting the campus at its best.