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May 17 , 2006
DH 06 RH43
Contact: Russ Hudson,
Media Relations Coordinator
(310) 243-2455/2001

CSUDH: Graduate Commencement May 18, Undergrad May 19

Carson, CA— This media advisory includes details on our two commencements this year; brief but colorful profiles of five of this year’s graduates, including a master’s degree candidate who spent year surviving on the streets; an Egyptian immigrant who learned Spanish because so many assumed he was Latino, and now speaks multiple languages; a mother who went back to school after her children were grown and is graduating cum laude; a first-time college student blazing a trail for her siblings; and a professional cyclist with a young son with medical problems.

There are also interesting facts about the university.

Graduate Commencement:

  • First time: For the first time, the graduate and undergraduate ceremonies will be completely separate, with graduate degrees being conferred at the time of the graduate commencement ceremonies
  • Date/Time: Thursday, May 18. Ceremony starts at 7 p.m. Graduates and families will arrive well before that.
  • Location: The Home Depot Center Tennis Stadium on the California State University, Dominguez Hills campus, 1000 E. Victoria Street, Carson. The Tennis Stadium is just south of the Soccer Stadium. Free admission. Free parking.
  • Keynote speaker: Ira J. Toibin, Palos Verdes Peninsula School District superintendent. Toibin led the district to an academic performance index score of 890, one of the highest in the state.
  • Credentials: Tennis Suite No. 9, open from 6:20 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tennis Stadium is just south of the Soccer Stadium. Tennis Suite No. 9 is at the south end of the Tennis Stadium.
  • Media Help: Tennis Suite No. 9 will also be open for 30 minutes after the ceremony.
  • Photos: Photography is allowed. CSUDH University Communications and Public Affairs will have some photos available once they have been processed after the event.
  • Commencement Website: http://www.csudh.edu/commencement/
  • More information: On the event itself (310) 243-2666. Other: Before and after the ceremony (310) 243-2001. On-site just before and just after the ceremony, Tennis Suite No. 9.
  • Facts: More than 500 master’s degree candidates are expected at the ceremony.

Undergraduate Commencement:

  • Date/Time: Friday, May 19. Ceremony starts at 9 a.m. Undergraduates and their families will arrive well before that.
  • Location: The Home Depot Center Soccer Stadium on the California State University, Dominguez Hills campus, 1000 E. Victoria Street, Carson. Free admission. Free parking.
  • Key Speaker: Janice Bryant Howroyd, founder and chief executive officer, Act 1 Group of Companies. Howroyd was just named one of the ‘50 Most Powerful Women in Business’ by Black Enterprise Magazine.
  • Credentials: Event Suite No. 5, open from 8:20 a.m. to 9 a.m. The Event Suites are near The Home Depot Center’s Stadium Club at the south end of the Soccer Stadium.
  • Media Help: Event Suite No. 5 will also be open for 30 minutes after the ceremony.
  • Photos: Photography is allowed. CSUDH University Communications and Public Affairs will have some photos available once they have been processed after the event.
  • Commencement Website: http://www.csudh.edu/commencement/
  • More information: On the event itself (310) 243-2666. Other: Before and after the ceremony (310) 243-2001. On-site just before and just after the ceremony, Event Suite No. 5.
  • Facts: About 1,500 undergraduates are expected at the ceremony.


  • The entire history of the university can be found at http://www.csudh.edu/site/AboutTheUniversity/History.asp, but below are some highlights/points of interest for background.
  • With these 2,000 graduates, CSU Dominguez Hills will have reached 60,000 graduates. The university’s first graduating class, in 1967, had four graduates. There were still cows in the meadows around the classrooms.
  • By best estimates, well over half of the CSUDH graduates still live within 25 miles of the campus. Among them are legislators, corporate executive officers, high-ranking military officers and base commanders, war veterans, internationally known philosophers, award-winning musicians, entertainers, artists, financiers, professional athletes, authors, researchers, and honored educators at all levels.
  • The university was first established in 1960 on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and first named South Bay State College. That changed to California State College, Palos Verdes in 1962.
  • The campus was moved to Dominguez Hills in 1965—three years before the City of Carson was incorporated, and after the Watts Riots—to serve the population of South Bay and southern Los Angeles. The campus almost did not come to Dominguez Hills. Other sites in the running were Fort MacArthur, Friendship Park, and Torrance.

More information will be posted by end-of-day at http://www.csudh.edu/dateline under Campus News.


Elizabeth Gonzalez

There are people who drive the train, people who ride the train, and people like Elizabeth Gonzalez, the bold ones who lay down the track.

“It’s important to open the road for the next generation,” says the Chicana/o Studies major, who lives with her mother and three younger siblings and has sometimes worked two jobs while earning her bachelor’s degree. As the first in her family to attend a university, she embraces her role as an example.

“I don’t want my siblings to struggle like I did,” she says. “I feel like I’m showing them the way.”

To this McNair and Sally Casanova scholar who was born in Boyle Heights and raised in Lynwood, the “way” all but vanished in the early 1990s. She was a junior at Lynwood High School, troubled by her parents’ divorce, and, by her own admission, “so far behind in my credits I thought I’d never get out. College was not in my future. I never took the SATs. No one talked to me about it.”

She managed to complete her credits, then enrolled at L.A. Trade Tech to learn to be a sign painter as “an easy way to make money.” College wasn’t in the picture until an instructor suggested she transfer. “He told me, ‘You’re four-year material. You don’t belong here,’” she recalls. She enrolled at Dominguez Hills.
“It took me ten years to finish,” she says, “but now I really know where I want to go. I never would have thought I’d be doing research and caring about it.”

She’ll enter UCLA as a master’s-degree student in social science and comparative education, intending to become a professor who can bring more young Latinas and Latinos into higher education and mentor them in terms of conducting and presenting research.

Her message? “I tell them it’s not if you go to college, but when. Anyone can do it. There are ways to apply for financial aid. You do it little by little. It takes time, but you get there. It’s about what you want. Do you want the good things from life?”

Michael Lovegren

Students find their way to Dominguez Hills in all kinds of ways.
Michael Lovegren,
(Class of ’05, B.A. Kinesiology), came by bicycle.

Lovegren spent five years as a pro-am cyclist who traveled around the West to race. Along the way, he attended Long Beach City College part-time and earned an associate degree in biology.

“I wanted to go into sports medicine, but I didn’t know how to get there,” he says. After a friend advised him to focus on school or cycling, Lovegren found the kinesiology program at Dominguez Hills. He entered in 2004, while raising his 2-year-old son with his wife, who was studying to be a dental assistant (and is currently expecting their second child).

Lovegren brought to his studies not only his athlete’s focus, but also the intentionality he had needed to find the right doctors and medical treatment for his son, who was born with club feet and required weekly medical care beginning at ten weeks of age, and underwent several surgeries. A year ago, he won the first bicycle race he entered, beating a pack of hungry 3-year-olds.

“He’s an inspiration to me,” says Lovegren. “I give 100 percent on the bike, and I wanted to do the same for my son and in my education. I wanted something that neither my parents nor my brother ever achieved. And I look at it as that I’m setting the footprint or the foundation for my son. I’m trying to open the doorway, to show that he can achieve something.”

Himself the son of a firefighter, the 31-year-old McNair scholar, who has ten years of experience as a personal trainer and sports coach, originally intended to “earn a bachelor’s degree and be done with it.” But, says Lovegren, “My mentor, Assistant Professor Ben Zhou, challenged me to do get my Ph.D. so that I’d be able to do other things I wanted to. He gave me the incentive to know that it wasn’t too late for me.”

Two years later, Lovergren has a “three-point-eight something” GPA and is preparing to enter the master’s program at the University of Northern Colorado, with a long-range plan of earning a Ph.D. and working at the U.S. Olympic Training Facility. It’s less than 200 miles down the road ­ in Colorado Springs, a nice ride for a dad and his son.

Karen Williams

Graduate student Karen Williams is all smiles as she discusses what this summer has in store for her. By June, she’ll have a master’s degree in biology and a teaching credential to go with it. How things change.

Williams’s life started out tough. Her mother used drugs, she lived on the streets for many years, and she dropped out of school in the seventh grade. Making it from one day to the next was the extent of her life goals. Then she became a mother herself, and the switch went on.

Aware of her passion for helping others, Williams enrolled in a child psychology class at Santa Monica College. The classroom experience sparked an interest in education. Suddenly, Williams realized that despite the negative lessons life had taught her to that point, she could still accomplish something great. “That feeling of accomplishment,” she says, “was big for me.”

After receiving a scholarship through LACTE (Los Angeles Collaborative for Teacher Excellence), Williams transferred to CSUDH and immediately felt a connection. “I remember the first time I brought my kids to school with me,” she says. “When no one told me they had to leave, that touched me.”

That same sense of family has been a key to her educational experience, and she acknowledges that what has kept her going is “the safe haven I’ve found” in fellow students and faculty at CSUDH. Even though she’s graduating this summer and will be teaching science at Downey High School, she vows not to cut her ties with CSUDH or to rein in her education. She plans to get another master’s degree or a certificate in administration from CSUDH. That’s a long way up from the streets.

George Malak

Graduate student George Malak (Class of ’99, B.A., Spanish; ’05, M.A., Education) was born in Alexandria, Egypt, but in a classic case of 21st-century ethnic dyslexia, people often assumed he was Hispanic or Latino and would automatically start talking to him in Spanish. Rather than resist it, Malak went with it, becoming fluent in Spanish, then adding French for good measure. He is currently teaching himself Korean and Tagalog.

“When I was in elementary school, the kids assumed I was Hispanic, so I thought it would be good to learn the language,” he says. “I took three years in high school, and got my A.A. in Spanish at El Camino College. Now I speak it very well, and when someone comes up and talks to me in Spanish, I respond in Spanish. They ask me where I’m from, and I say, ‘Egipto,’ which means ‘Egypt’ in Spanish. They think I’m kidding. One guy asked me where in Mexico that was.”

Malak, who used to tutor languages at El Camino, is now tutoring students in math at CSUDH’s  Center for Learning and Academic Support Services (CLASS). He encourages his students to challenge themselves in courses that they find difficult.

“I used to have a hard time with writing,” he says. “Students who have a hard time think they can never get it, so I share my experience that I had difficulty with writing and that I worked hard at it and was able to do it. They just have to put forth the effort.”

Malak hopes to inspire students to succeed as he has, despite having Duchenne muscular dystrophy. As a future college counselor, he plans to tell students to stick to their goals.

“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do it,” he says. “You can do whatever you put your mind to. I would tell students to do their best, and let them know that if I can do it, so can they.”

Annie Tubman

While standing in line at the University Bookstore’s Commencement Fair,
Annie Tubman (Class of ’06, B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies/Sociology) could easily be mistaken for a proud parent about to purchase cap and gown photos of her graduating offspring. Upon bestowing mistaken congratulations on her accomplished son or daughter, one learns that it is she who is the graduate, and cum laude at that.

Of her daughter, who graduated from UC San Diego in the late 1980s, Tubman says, “She is very, very proud of her mama. She doesn’t show it to me, but she tells everybody at her job about me. She kept pushing me. I’d say, ‘Kelly, help me with my paper.’ And she’d say, ‘Mom, I’ll proofread it, but you have to learn to do it yourself.’”

The granddaughter of an alumna of the first graduating class at Spelman College, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta, Tubman was surrounded by a family who believed strongly in education.

“I had an uncle who was an engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, even though he didn’t have a degree,” she says. “When he retired and went to Ohio State University, he got a dual bachelor’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. He was hired after that by Rockwell at age 63. So it always stood out in my mind that if he could do it, I can do it. It’s not too late.”

While the age difference between herself, her fellow students, and often her professors, was “intimidating” at first, Tubman enjoyed the challenges of learning and making use of her life experience in the transition to becoming a college student.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up with these young minds at first,” she says. “But then it realized I had something that they didn’t. I had focus. I think I’ve made an impression on them. Several students told me, ‘I wish I could get my mom to go back to school.’”

After taking time off briefly to relax this summer, Tubman plans to start shopping for a law school. Her experience in a criminology class, and her observations of single parenthood have inspired her to become a counselor for juvenile offenders.

“A lot of young people get into situations because their parents are not doing their job,” she says, having been a single mother herself. “When I worked for the county, I would see these young mothers who weren’t as concerned about spending time with their children as they were about getting another man. If you don’t invest time in your children, you’re going to end up picking them up from jail.”

Having been a single mother herself, Tubman plans to talk to parents to get them more involved in their children’s lives. She also believes in going to the heart of the matter with at-risk youth. 

“I would also emphasize to the child that, ‘You don’t have to be in this situation again,” she says. “Whatever your mom or dad didn’t do, you’re on your own now. Go back to school, get an education. Don’t run with the same crowd. Whatever I do for you will be negated if you go back to them, and I’ll be seeing you again.’

“I was sitting in my Spanish class, and this young guy who sat next to me had his cell phone ringing. I said, ‘You know what? You’re in class. Your friends know when you’re in class, why would they call you? They’re trying to make you fail. Turn that cell phone off.’ The next time I saw him in class, he said, ‘I got my cell phone off.’”

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University Communications & Public Affairs
Welch Hall, B-363


Dominguez Hills Dateline is produced by University Advancement/ University Communications
& Public Affairs

Media Contact:

Russell Hudson
University Communications
& Public Affairs
(310) 243-2455


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California State University, Dominguez Hills • 1000 E. Victoria Street • Carson, California 90747 • (310) 243-3696
If any of the material is in violation of a copyright, please contact copyright@csudh.edu.
Last updated May 17, 2006, 2:03 p.m.,
by Joanie Harmon