NORTHRIDGE >> Their mortarboards suggested years of sacrifice, late nights in the campus library and bright futures based on new degrees from Cal State Northridge.
More than 1,200 business and economics majors celebrated their triumph Friday morning during the first of seven 2017 commencement ceremonies on the Northridge campus. Administrators celebrated the 11,400 CSUN students to earn degrees this spring — a campus record.
“CSUN graduates touch every sector, every industry, every field, and have made a significant mark on the world, said Dianne F. Harrison, president of California State University, Northridge, her voice booming from the steps of the Delmar T. Oviatt Library. “Each of you also has the potential to make a difference.
“You are all winners. Truly, this is a Matador achievement, to complete your degree. Your family is proud. You are proud. And we are proud as well.”
Commencement day for the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics began with a burning sun rising above the Oviatt Library as a stiff northeasterly breeze flapped Old Glory flying overhead.
Thousands of jubilant grads poured onto the campus soil at the end of years of academic toil. Some were the first among families to go to college. Some had veered from one chosen path to another. Others had overcome job losses, family interruptions, even potentially life-ending illnesses.
They strode across campus in newly unwrapped black gowns seemingly taller than when they’d entered as freshman or transfer students.
Fathers adjusted sons’ ties. Mothers tweaked their daughters’ sashes. Family and friends bore the obligatory graduation balloons and bouquets.
They cheered as CSUN’s Jazz A Band ushered the ravenlike grads to their seats with a crisply snared “Pomp and Circumstance” march.
By the time the thousands of their peers walk the stage at similar commencement ceremonies through Monday, an estimated 9,353 students will have earned their bachelor’s, 2,000 their master’s, and 47 students their doctoral degrees.
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Not since San Fernando Valley State College opened in 1958 has CSUN seen so many springtime graduates. They will now join 340,000 CSUN alumni, who administrators say are elevating Los Angeles and beyond.
“By persevering,” Harrison told students, “you have seen what you are capable of — but it is only the beginning.”
Business, marketing, economics and finance students proclaimed their beginnings with mortarboard pronouncements from “If you can dream it you can do it” to “Adventure awaits” to “Time 2 make money.”
Gabriel Maya’s boasted a 3-D dollar sign and rising markets graph.
“I’m happy, I’m fortunate,” said Maya, 24, of Palmdale, an economics major who hopes to either teach or be an investment banker. “Life should be going up from here.”
Emilly Newcomb inscribed “#girlbliss” on her cap.
“It’s girl empowerment,” said Newcomb, 23, of Thousand Oaks, a marketing major whose Dainty Vixen business makes handmade intimate apparel “for ladies.”
“Wonderful things ahead.”
Arlette Montoya, a 37-year-old mother and immigrant from Peru, wrote “Thank you God for (the American) dream.” Her 14-year-old son was 6 months old when she started college.
“I’m excited. I’m overwhelmed. I’m thankful. I’m ready,” said Montoya of Moorpark, an accountant who majored in accounting so she could advance in her real estate job. “It’s an American dream.”
“I’m gonna make a fortune,” said Arpi Sislyan, 21, of North Hollywood, a business major who hopes to study law, wearing a lei made out of greenbacks pressed into accordion shapes by her mother, Judy.
Family members were just as jubilant.
Music producer Mark Rogers floated across campus bearing a balloon that proclaimed, “You did it grad! Way to go.” It was for his wife, Samira, a business law major who hopes to work for a music label.
“I’m a proud husband,” said Rogers, 28, of Northridge. “She made it through. I feel like I’m graduating, too. I feel good.”
One honors graduate recognized during the commencement ceremony that began shortly after 8 a.m. was Joveen Grewal. As a 19-year-old sophomore, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in the nervous system.
He not only managed to beat the disease but sailed through with a 3.9 GPA while also switching from mechanical engineering to accountancy and business, winning a business college competition, and tutoring school kids in this year’s national champion Granada Hills Charter High School Decathlon team.
He’s now got a job with international accounting firm Ernst & Young.
“I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at CSUN,” Grewal, 21, of Reseda told the university before graduation. “It’s one of the best experiences of my entire life.
“Some of my friends at other schools are coming out with thousands of dollars in debt and no job after graduation. Here I am, with zero debt and an amazing job at an amazing company … I don’t think I would have gotten that at any other school.”