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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State celebrates Graduate Studies Commencement

President Perez shaking the hand of Taylor Bisby as she receives her Master’s degree. Taken by Jessica Miller on May 15

Students from graduate studies programs celebrated their accomplishments Wednesday night in the midst of a 93 degree heat with signs warning to watch for symptoms of heatstroke. 

Some students stood in line for the ceremony for over an hour wearing the traditional graduation robes that unfortunately, due to their black coloring, only intensified the effects of the heat.

Emergency Medical Services and Chico State police stood on standby for the entirety of the event, near the entry points. 

Plenty of students decorated their caps to show creativity and passion for what they do. Some were continuing to do so just minutes before the ceremony started.


Janette Rodriguez designing her cap as she waits in line for the ceremony. Taken by Jessica Miller on May 15

Kira Cory, a musical theater sophomore at Chico State, sang the national anthem to start the commencement.

The music and all preceding speeches were translated into American Sign Language on large event screens for full accessibility, but the translator was unfortunately not named in the commencement program.

ASL interpreter for the Chico State Graduate Studies Commencement ceremony being live-streamed from backstage. Taken by Jessica Miller on May 15

Following Cory’s performance, President Steve Perez took the stage to give his welcome to family, friends and graduates. 

President Steve Perez greeting parents and family members of Graduate Studies students. Taken by Jessica Miller on May 15.

The introductory speech from Perez brought excitement and hopeful energy to everyone, whether celebrating themselves or others. 

The first-generation graduates were instructed to stand for recognition, making up more than half of the Master’s degree graduates. 

“And now with this advanced degree, you have taken it a step further. I have no doubt that you will inspire others in your family to follow in your footsteps,”  Perez said to those standing.

He expressed the desires and aspirations students may share as they complete this stage of their education and enter their careers, remembering there is a shared common goal to do good in the world. 

Much of Perez’ speech was made up of quotes from famous beings including The Lorax.

“As Sam Levenson said, ‘remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others,’” Perez said. 

He then introduced student speaker Fernando Infante, who was accepting his second Master’s degree. 

Infante greeted the audience in both Spanish and English to support and recognize his Mexican American heritage. He shared what it meant for him to come from a place seeking acceptance in not one, but two cultures. 

Student speaker Fernando Infante giving keynote speech. Taken by Jessica Miller on May 15.

“We possess the capacity to listen, to care, to feel, to share the richness and uniqueness in the common language of love. To do so we must, without self-interest, restore trust in our collective soul and challenge the systems that fail to see our shared humanity,” Infante said. 

A few words From the graduates- 

Computer science graduate James Krepelka plans to teach full-time at community colleges like Butte College, and high schools. He will begin his teaching journey in Chico at Inspire School of Arts and Sciences this fall. 

The advice he gives future students is, “School is school, but if you can get a Bachelor’s, you can get a Master’s,” Krepelka said.

He also shared the appreciation he has for the hands-on, direct feedback and ability to interact with teachers frequently that Chico State was able to give in comparison to other colleges like Stanford and Berkeley.

The gratitude for the intimate learning environment is commonly shared amongst students and those in the master’s program. When asked what made Chico State worth it, Iris Rindlisbacher, graduating with a Master’s of education, pointed to the faculty.

“They were amazing. I was in the Computational Literacy Across Secondary Settings program and they were the most amazing people. They fed me, they gave me a shoulder to cry on when I thought I wasn’t going to make it and they’re still here around us supporting us,” Rindlisbacher said. 

She advised future students to be patient with themselves and to be proud. 

“It’s a rough road but it’s so worth it,” Rindlisbacher said. 

Before beginning her job as a special education teacher in Roseville, she says she is going to take a trip to celebrate her accomplishments.

Psychology graduate Yazmin Gonzales shared that the program was more than worth it thanks to the faculty and friends she found. She went on to give advice for future students who enter the program. 

“Don’t leave everything to the last minute and even when things feel really hard don’t give up. Keep pushing even when it feels like it’s impossible,” Gonzales said.

Confetti sprays out over graduate studies commencement ceremony. Taken by Jessica Miller on May 15

The Orion would like to congratulate all of the 2024 graduates for their hard work at Chico State. 

Jessica Miller and Alina Babajko can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Jessica Miller
Jessica Miller, News Editor
Jessica Miller is a fourth-year English literature studies major at Chico State with a minor in linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This will be her first semester with The Orion. After graduation, she plans to pursue a single-subject teaching credential in English and begin teaching at the high school level in California. She loves to write, read and work at the Student Learning Center on campus as a Writing Center tutor as well as her ESL Support Services tutoring position.
Alina Babajko
Alina Babajko, Reporter
Alina Babajko is an agricultural communications and leadership major. Her goals in life include helping with food insecurity and improving resource depletion as well as environmental degradation. In her free time she enjoys nature walks, fresh and salt water swimming, and cooking for friends and family. After college, she plans to join the Peace Corps to learn about international culture and assist poor countries with sustainability.  

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