News Release| 2013 Commencement; Cal State L.A.

June 12, 2013

Note: To make arrangements for photos or interviews, call the Cal State L.A. Public Affairs Office in advance at (323) 343-3050.

Media Advisory

Cal State L.A.’s Commencement June 14-15

Teen grads, AB540 student advocate, congressional intern,
first in family graduate, doctoral candidates, more among CSULA’s Class of 2013

Los Angeles, CA – A two-day festivity filled with renowned keynote speakers, pride and celebration, California State University, Los Angeles will confer more than 5,000 bachelor’s and master’s degrees at this year’s Commencement exercises June 14 and 15.

The Friday 5 p.m. ceremony will honor graduates in the Charter College of Education; College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology; and College of Health and Human Services. Its keynote speaker will be Terrence James Roberts, one of the Little Rock Nine, who in 1957 were the first African American students ever to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Saturday 8 a.m. ceremony will honor graduates in the College of Arts and Letters; College of Business and Economics; and College of Natural and Social Sciences. The keynote speaker will be CSULA President James M. Rosser, who will retire at the end of this month after more than three decades serving as president of the University.

The following are among the thousands of stories of pride and persistence amid the Class of 2013:

  • Fourteen undergraduates in the Early Entrance Program (EEP)—ages 15-20—will receive baccalaureate degrees this weekend, including 18-year-old chemistry major Michael Martinez (Long Beach resident) who will attend the Scripps Research Institute Ph.D. program in synthetic organic chemistry after marching at the Saturday Commencement. Martinez’s accolades also include the Rashad E. Rasouk Scholarship and the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science’s (SACNAS) Outstanding Undergraduate Research Presentation Award.

  • A 2011 Panetta Institute’s Congressional Intern, Angelica Sagum (Eagle Rock resident) will soon play a key role in the guidance and control team for Mars Exploration Missions. Sagum has been hired to work as a business administrator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory after graduating from CSULA this June. She will receive her bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in management and a minor in economics at the Saturday Commencement. A President’s Scholar, she is also among the first class of Honors College students at CSULA to graduate this spring.  

  • As an undocumented student, Alma Bonifacio (Los Angeles resident) had to balance a heavy school load as well as a busy 30-40 hours per week work schedule, in order to pay for college. Undeterred from her academic goals, she is achieving her master’s degree in child development this June. As a result of the challenges she has endured, Bonifacio is committed to advocating for higher education for all and for policies to support AB540 students. She will be marching at the Friday Commencement. 

  • First in her family to attend college, biology major Kathleen Carlos (Pico Rivera resident) has been accepted to a M.D./Ph.D. program at UC Irvine with a full fellowship and a monthly stipend after marching at the Saturday Commencement. Martinez is one of 14 Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) students beginning doctorate programs this fall. They will study in prestigious programs at such colleges as Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Cornell University, USC, and UC San Diego. 

  • Faced with the decision to either go to a rehabilitation center or to state prison, Jeffrey Bellissimo (Eagle Rock resident) chose to turn his life around and receive treatment for his addiction to methamphetamine. This June, he is proud to be five years sober and to graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. With a renewed sense of self-worth and confidence, Bellissimo wants to help those suffering from substance abuse. He was also recently accepted to CSULA’s forensic social work graduate program. He will participate in the Friday Commencement.  

  • Zara Agvanian (Pasadena resident), who immigrated to the U.S. from Armenia at the age of 16, not speaking a word of English, had to quickly acclimate to the English language and American culture, in order to pursue her dream of a college degree. Now, two decades later, Agvanian, who is a teacher working in the Pasadena Unified School District and a mother of two young boys, will be conferred an Ed.D. in educational leadership this spring. Agvanian is a member of the first cohort of graduates enrolled in the university’s independent doctoral program, which was launched at CSULA in fall 2009. Agvanian and 10 other CSULA students will be conferred their doctoral degrees at the Friday Commencement. 

    Both 2013 Commencement ceremonies will be streamed live. The web streams will be broadcast through Cal State L.A.’s Eagles Live Cast at /eagleslive/.

    The Commencement will be held at Cal State L.A.’s University Athletic Stadium, at the southeast corner of the campus.  The University is located at the Eastern Avenue exit, San Bernardino (I-10) freeway, at the interchange of the 10 and 710 freeways. For more information, go to

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    Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 225,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six Colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to the Honors College for high-achieving students. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.