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Cal State LA graduates celebrate milestone during start of seven-day Commencement

July 22, 2021

Cal State LA News Service

Gold and black streamers fall down over a crowd of graduates in caps and gowns.
Photo: Black and gold streamers fall over graduates after the University Hymn. (Credit: Robert Huskey/Cal State LA)

Commencement 2021 kicked off at Cal State LA this week as graduates from the Class of 2021 and Class of 2020 returned to campus for a long-awaited celebration.

Thousands of family and friends filled the stands during the ceremonies at Cal State LA’s baseball stadium, Reeder Field. The field was transformed into a festive and shaded event space.

The first two days of ceremonies on Wednesday and Thursday featured graduates from the Class of 2021 and Class of 2020 in the colleges of Ethnic Studies, Natural and Social Sciences, and Business and Economics. More than 6,500 graduates are expected to take part in 20 college-based ceremonies to be held July 21-23 and July 26-29.

The festivities were made even more meaningful after a challenging and world-changing year in which many students were forced to finish their classes virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You did not give up on your dream of earning a university degree. You continued studying, learning, serving others, caring for your family, and striving toward your goal—in spite of every challenge the pandemic caused,” Cal State LA President William A. Covino said to graduates during his Commencement address.

“Even as the world around you seemed to fall apart, you worked and prepared to build a better world. This foresight, this focus on a better world, is what it means to be a Golden Eagle,” he continued. “Golden Eagles are a force for good in a world that desperately needs goodness. You are uniquely equipped to serve and uplift our communities. Care for one another is your superpower. Compassion in the face of suffering is your superpower. The knowledge and skill to make a difference is your superpower.”

The president’s remarks prompted loud applause from the crowd as he told the students: “Marvel has the Avengers, but we have you, the Golden Eagles. Yes, you are the superheroes our world needs.”

Graduates walked across the Commencement stage as their name and degree were called, to cheers from their friends and family. Many others watched the ceremony livestream at home.

amily members hug a graduate who is wearing a Cal State LA foam finger.

Photo: A graduate is embraced by loved ones. (Credit: Jill Connelly/Cal State LA)

Since the start of Commencement, the campus has been filled with celebrating graduates and their loved ones.

George Arias, clad in his cap and gown, a bright magenta flower lei and sunglasses, took photos with members of his family after his Commencement ceremony Thursday afternoon.

Arias, of Gardena, received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an option in accounting in May 2020, after transferring to Cal State LA from Santa Monica College. He came back to campus July 22 to officially celebrate earning his degree.

“Especially being the first in my family to graduate from college, aside from one uncle, it’s not every day that my family sees moments like these,” Arias said. He remembers being 9 or 10 years old at his uncle’s graduation. “That moment has always been kind of present in me, and I thought, maybe one day—and finally it’s here.”

Inside the white tent on Reeder Field, each ceremony ends with a video of the University Hymn performed by the Cal State LA Graduate Choral Ensemble.

As the final notes of the hymn ring in the air, shimmering black and gold streamers shoot out of confetti cannons over a sea of graduates. Surprise turns to glee as they allow themselves to take in the moment.

They did it.

For a schedule of the ceremonies and other details, please visit the Cal State LA Commencement webpage.

Guests and graduates file into the Commencement area under a black and gold Commencement banner.

Photo: Cal State LA Commencement 2021 is being held at the university’s baseball stadium, Reeder Field, July 21-23 and July 26-29. (Credit: Jill Connelly/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 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 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