California State University Trustee Debra Farar, writer and education advocate Jonathan Mooney, space shuttle engineer Tony Magee and Pamela Villaseñor, deputy council of the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, are among the dignitaries who will address Cal State Northridge students when they graduate later this month.
An estimated 10,305 students—about 7,399 bachelor’s and 2,906 master’s degree candidates in a total of 64 fields—are eligible to take part in the ceremonies scheduled to begin the evening of Monday, May 17.
“Although this past year has been extremely challenging for our students and all state universities due to the budget environment, commencement is a moment to savor achievement and the transformative power of a college education,” said Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester. “The happy faces of our newest graduates—and of their families, friends, and the university’s faculty and staff who helped them along the way—always energizes me and reaffirms my firm belief in the important work we do at Cal State Northridge in providing opportunities and a bright future for our students.”
The graduation celebration begins at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 17, with the Honors Convocation on the lawn in front of the Oviatt Library, located in the heart of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge. More than 1,900 graduating students have been invited to participate.
This year’s Honors Convocation speaker is Northridge alumna Debra Farar ’75 (English) and ‘87 (Education), a nationally recognized leader in higher education. Farar served as an educational policy advisor for the Clinton administration and former California Gov. Gray Davis. For the last decade, she has been a member of the California State University Board of Trustees, serving as its chair from 2002-2004.
The formal commencement ceremonies are as follows:
• Students in the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication will celebrate their graduations beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 18, on the lawn in front of the Oviatt Library.
Grammy Award-winning international opera star Michelle DeYoung ’09 (Music) will receive an honorary doctorate of fine arts during the ceremony. DeYoung was studying opera at the university in the 1990s when she won the local, regional and national first place prizes of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Award and was invited to join the Met’s prestigious Lindeman Young Artist Development Program. From there, her career took off. She has performed some of opera’s premier roles in many of the world’s finest opera houses, and has worked with some of world’s leading composers.
• The College of Science and Mathematics does not have a speaker planned for its ceremony, scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18, on the lawn south of Manzanita Hall near the southwest corner of the campus near Nordhoff Street east of Etiwanda Avenue.
• The College of Health and Human Development will celebrate its students’ graduations at 6:30 p. m on Tuesday, May 18, on the Oviatt Lawn. No speaker is scheduled.
• The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences does not have a speaker planned for its ceremony, scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, May 19, on the Oviatt Lawn.
• Tony Magee ’93 (Industrial Engineering), materials engineer for the U.S. Space Shuttle Main Engine Program at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, will give the commencement address at the College of Engineering and Computer Science graduation celebration at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 19, on the Manzanita Hall Lawn.
Magee is president of PlatinumStar® Success Strategies, a professional and personal develop–ment firm. In addition to his work with that company, Magee is a part-time professor with CSUN’s Department of Manufacturing Systems Engineering and a 14-year materials engineer for the U.S. Space Shuttle program.
• Deputy Council of the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians Pamela Villaseñor ’06 (Psychology) will address the College of Humanities’ graduates during their commencement ceremony at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 19, on the Oviatt Lawn.
In addition to her work with the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, Villaseñor is a tribal trainer and consultant with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. She is the past deputy director of the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission. Her address will be followed by a performance by the Tataviam Bird Singers and Dancers.
• The College of Business and Economics does not have a speaker planned for its ceremony, scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 20, on the Oviatt Library Lawn.
• Jonathan Mooney, a dyslexic writer and activist who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old, will address the graduates at the Michael D. Eisner College of Education commencement ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 20, on the Oviatt Library Lawn.
Mooney is a graduate of Brown University and has an honors degree in English literature. He is founder and president of Eye-to-Eye, a mentoring and advocacy non-profit organization for students with learning differences. He is also the author of “Learning Outside the Lines” and “The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal.”