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SFSU Celebrates 104th Commencement: Transcript

May 28, 2005


The following is a transcript of San Francisco State University's 104th Commencement on Saturday, May 28, 2005 in Cox Stadium on campus before an audience of 20,000.



Processional and National Anthem

On reaching their places on the platform, the processional participants remained standing for the National Anthem.


Ladies and gentlemen: would you please rise for the singing of the national anthem. The processional was performed by the San Francisco State University Wind Ensemble under the direction of Robert Busan. Our soloist for the national anthem is Kristofer Sundquist, who graduates today with a bachelor of music in vocal performance.


[Mr. Sundquist moved to his microphone, sings the national anthem]


Opening and Invocation


Thank you, Mr. Sundquist. What a stirring opening for our commencement celebration! Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Members of the San Francisco State University class of 2005 -- good afternoon!

Good afternoon!


A warm welcome to all of you. I'd like to extend a special welcome to all of our guests and families, for you, as for our graduates, this is an historic day. You have looked forward to this ceremony almost as eagerly as our graduates. And your presence adds greatly to their joy.

For you, our graduates, this day will always stand as a lifetime landmark. In this splendid public celebration, we honor all that you have achieved and anticipate with great confidence your future personal and professional successes and contributions to the welfare of our nation and the world that awaits you.

We begin by remembering the spirit in which we have gathered here this afternoon. To deliver the invocation, I am honored to present The Rev. Gail Cromack of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Dr. Cromack.

Dr. Cromack:

Thank you.

Oh, God, on this day of beginnings and endings, we ask your blessing on all of those here, especially those who graduate, both young, not-so-young and old. Help us to remember the hard lessons that we learned here: that knowledge is power, that laughter at ourselves is healing, and that believing the impossible and then doing it is within our reach, and that compassion for others begins with compassion for ourselves. We ask the spirit of life in a world seemingly bent on madness and intent on destruction, help us to know that it is our world and in our hands. As we seek justice, may we find ways to work for peace. As we move on this day to changed lives and new beginnings, remind us to take off our shoes when we encounter those who are different from us, for in meeting the other in race or faith or language or gender, we know that we are in holy ground. So we call down heaven's blessing on all today who are here who have worked so hard to bring us to this day, graduates, parents, friends, faculty, staff who have helped bring us safely to this day of celebration. Amen.

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Thank you, Dr. Cromack, for your inspiring words.


You remind us that in all our wonderful diversity, this campus is linked by strong shared values.

Introductions and Welcome


Joining us on the platform today are some special guests who will be introduced by our announcer for today’s commencement exercises, Associate Professor Martin Gonzalez of the department of broadcast and electronic communication arts.


Please stand as your name is called. Audience, please hold your applause until everyone has been introduced.

From the board of trustees of the California State University:

  • Jeffrey L. Bleich and
  • Melinda Guzman-Moore

From the president’s advisory board and SFSU Foundation board of directors:

  • Dr. Stephen Dobbs

From the campus:

  • Caran Colvin, Chair of the Academic Senate;
  • Christopher Jackson, President of the Associated Students;
  • Deborah Masters, Librarian of the University;
  • Leroy Morishita, Vice President for Administration and Finance;
  • Richard Giardina, Associate Vice President for Academic Planning and Assessment;
  • Gail Whitaker, Dean of the College of Extended Learning, and
  • Marilyn Verhey, Dean of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development.



Today, as we mark San Francisco State's 104th commencement, I'm proud to say that this graduating class is our largest, our most diverse and most accomplished in our history.


The thousands of you who graduate today can take great pride in your accomplishments. For you, there has been no ivory tower, no opportunity to devote yourselves entirely to the life of the mind.

For many of you, this has been more than a four-year path -- or five-year path. You have had to balance work, perhaps even family responsibilities, with your academic studies. But you have not only persevered, you have prevailed. And we congratulate you for your achievement. You, the members of the class of 2005, are a true global community, and your varied life experiences, your cultural backgrounds and unique perspectives have made this campus an intellectually and culturally richer place for all of us. You are a virtual United Nations on your own, the native sons and daughters of 117 countries.


Some of your families have lived in the United States far longer than this university has existed. Others of you arrived barely two years ago. Virtually all of you are California residents, largely from the Bay Area. But almost one-quarter, almost one-quarter of you were actually born outside of the United States. That's right, 25 percent born in another country, yet educated in California.


Ten of your classmates, our hood recipients, are seated on this platform. You will hear more about them later in the ceremony. But I will say now that in their varied life experiences, their courage, and their determination to succeed, they reflect the experiences of the class of 2005 and represent the values that we believe you hold most dear.

While you've been students here, you have gained knowledge of self and subject matter, have been both challenged and supported by this university's greatest asset -- our outstanding faculty. Men and women of principle and intellectual distinction, they care deeply about you. They sit facing you now, sharing my pride in your many achievements and experiencing very mixed emotions as you prepare to leave us.

Please join me in a round of applause for these dedicated faculty members who have devoted their lives to educating an enlightened and responsible citizenry.


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Introduction of the Student Speaker


Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Penny Saffold will now introduce the student speaker.


Gifted. Generous. Determined. Community spirit. These are some of the words that describe Natasha Scholtz. Natasha's path to this platform demonstrates what a remarkable young woman she is. Coming from a family of meager means, she has continuously worked full time since her senior year of high school, and graduating today in exactly four years, truly a remarkable achievement.

Natasha's academic record speaks to her scholarly achievements. She has been selected as the hood recipient, the outstanding student from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and she graduates today summa cum laude with highest honors.

Today, Natasha becomes the first in her family to graduate from college. She will not be the last. One brother has already followed in her footsteps; the younger soon will. Just one more way in which Natasha Scholtz is making her mark. I am delighted to present, representing the class of 2005, Natasha Lee Scholtz.



Before I start, how's everyone feeling today?


The Dalai Lama once said, "Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it." He really should have been an economics major. His wisdom reflects a principle in economics that we call opportunity cost. The principle of opportunity cost rings so clearly to all of us graduates here today, because we had to give up something to be here today and have higher education. You are here today because you understand and value opportunity cost. This logical simplicity is what I love about economics, that sweet blend of social, analytical and real issues that helps explain our lives.

For all of us, being here today is really a major accomplishment. For me, it was about discovering what motivated me each day, week, month and year. It was also about dedication to the development of my career, personal and educational goals.

You all have invested something of your own that brought you to this point of completion. Life is no different. So in your future endeavors, no matter what you do, find a way to do it as well as you have to get here today.

You have not all made it here alone, however. It took a community of resources. The theory of comparative advantage in economics basically says that if you can do something relatively better than I can, I should seek your help to make the project better. College has been no different. Life will be no different. The resources you have sought out here will serve you well. For what is ultimately most important is that you become a resource for someone else. Give back to the community or communities that have helped you.

Before you leave today, I want you to make sure that you give yourselves the well-deserved congratulations for making it to this day.

Thank your guests who have come here to support you and those who have supported you during your journey through higher education because without them, it really would not have been possible.

Lastly, don't let this be the last time you congratulate yourself or thank those around you. This has been a great ride together. Let us not put limits on ourselves when we leave today, because our options are truly infinite. Congratulations, class of 2005.



Thank you, Natasha, for speaking so personally and powerfully to the students that you represent, and for your classmates who graduate today. Thank you.

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Presentation of Faculty Emerita/Emeritus


Now, ladies and gentlemen, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, John Gemello, will now present the emeritus faculty.


It is appropriate that at commencement we acknowledge the contribution of those faculty who, like our graduates, are leaving the University. These individuals have served with distinction, and upon their retirement, are being granted emeritus status.

Mr. President, I am pleased to present them to you today.

Will the faculty emeriti please rise as I call their names:

  • Lilly Berry, Professor of Psychology
  • Richard De Leon, Professor of Political Science
  • Richard C. Giardina, Professor of International Relations
  • James Paul Jackson, Lecturer in Biology
  • Margo Okazawa-Rey, Professor of Social Work
  • Jack Osman, Professor of Economics
  • Robert Rogers, Professor of Physics
  • Gerald West, Professor of Counseling
  • John Westfall, Professor of Geography, and
  • Helene Whitson, Librarian.


My friends and colleagues, it is with great pride and deep admiration that, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees, I confer upon each of you the title of professor or lecturer emeritus or emerita of San Francisco State University. May you find fulfillment in this next stage of your life. And remember that you will always be a part of the San Francisco State University family.

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Recognition of Alumnus of the Year


Now, ladies and gentlemen, the Vice President for University Advancement, Don Scoble, will now present the Alumnus of the Year.


On behalf of the San Francisco State University Alumni Association, I welcome you in your new status as alumni, joining the more than 200,000 graduates who have preceded you.

It is now my great pleasure to introduce our 2005 Alumnus of the Year, Manny Mashouf. Manny, would you please join me.


When Manny Mashouf came to the U.S. in 1959 to attend college, he had to start with language lessons. "My English was zero, subzero," he says. But with the intelligence, determination and rapid accomplishment that have characterized his life, he jumped that hurdle and moved on.

Just 13 years later, and only six years after earning his bachelor's degree in political science, Manny Mashouf took the first step on a path that has made business and fashion history: He opened the first bebe clothing boutique in San Francisco.

Today, that one store has become 210 stores, stretching across and beyond the United States.

The creative and entrepreneurial qualities that have made him such a successful businessman were already in evidence in his college years. Working 30 to 40 hours a week at the Fairmont Hotel, he rose from dishwasher to captain of the wait staff in the hotel's best restaurant. And despite the heavy workload and demands of a young family, Manny made time to indulge his broad range of intellectual interests, taking classes in the arts and literature. In fact, the name "bebe" was inspired by Shakespeare, Hamlet's famous "to be or not to be" soliloquy.

Manny has maintained his ties to the University and has strongly supported the College of Business.

We are very, very proud to claim Manny Mashouf as one of our own and delighted to honor him as the University's 2005 Alumnus of the Year.


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Response by Alumnus of the Year


This is like the Academy Award nomination. I'm winning the Oscar! To me, it's even more important than that, especially since I don't have a chance to get an Oscar anyway.

When I looked at the color of your gowns today and I said, "Oh, my God. This is the year of the purple in fashion." You're all so fashionable. I can't believe it.


I'm so honored to be here. I feel like this is my graduation -- the one I didn't have.

President Corrigan, members of the Alumni Association, faculty, friends, and family, and most of all, members of the class of 2005, I thank you. This is a great honor, and it's very special to me, because I'm so fond and so proud of this university.

Looking out at the graduating class, I remember my own years here. They were not a time of leisure and indulgence. Like most of you, I had to juggle a great many responsibilities. I worked, was a husband and a father. Despite all those predicaments, my years on this campus stimulated and shaped my thought processes and attitudes in a way that have affected my life forever.

I was lucky to be here at the golden time, the early '60s. Society was in ferment and the campus was one of the most exciting places to experience evolutionary and even revolutionary changes. Women's liberation, civil rights, free speech, anti-war protests -- they were all vigorously alive on this campus and in the classrooms. We, the graduates of those years, thought that we could change the world. And you know what? We did change the world.

I hope that you are leaving the University with the same sense of passion and determination and confidence. I hope that you realize that your influence can be very influential and influence this society. People often doubt that one individual can make a difference. But, actually, how you live your life can influence society for generations to come.

Among the thousands of you in the class of 2005, some will become leaders in your chosen field; some of you will become wealthy and famous. I know you would all like that to be. But all of you can leave your mark on society. You don't have to be a CEO to have influences. Every contact we have with another individual has an impact: On your family, on your neighborhood, in your workplace.

I want you to ask yourself, what am I going to bring to our society? What can I contribute to the lives of my children and my children's children?

You have been educated at a very special place, a university that has exposed you to a wide range of points of view. This university has taught you that strong differences of opinion can be shared deeply, but with mutual respect, even among those who strongly disagree. That is a skill and an attitude that the world could use more of today

Living life over the last 40 years, since I graduated from San Francisco State University, I have learned a few things that I would like to share with you. It's my version of the Ten Commandments, but it's only five.

Number one: When choosing a career, make sure you love it so much that you never, ever think about retirement.

Two: Become the best, or at least one of the best, in at least one thing in life. It's best to be also in how you make your living.

Number three: Never say that, "I'll do my best." That usually means that, "I will fail and it wasn't my fault."

Number four: Embrace honesty and integrity in everything you do in life.

Number five: Give back. Contribute to worthy causes such as institutions of higher education like San Francisco State University.

Some day, one of you sitting out there in cap and gown will be standing where I am now, receiving this great honor from your alma mater. But today, it is your day. Each one of you is an honoree. You have already achieved great success to get to this point. And I offer you my warmest congratulations and best wishes for your future. Thank you.



Gift Announcement


I have a very special announcement to make that all of you here in Cox Stadium this afternoon are the first members of the general public to hear. When our Alumnus of the Year urged you, our graduating students, to support San Francisco State, he was holding something back. He was being far too modest to mention it, so I will.

And I would like as I make this statement to ask Mrs. Mashouf, Neda, to please stand. Neda.

Manny Mashouf and his wife Neda, another proud San Francisco State University graduate, have given this university the largest donation in its history: $10 million.



I am speechless. Thank you.


Just another word or two about this. I think you'll be interested that the $10 million gift will go toward helping us build a new performing and electronic media arts building. That's right.

And, by the way, this is the second largest alumni gift in the history of the 23-campus California State University system, the second largest gift from an alumnus.


The building will be named after the Mashouf family. And for generations to come, it will stand as a testament to the great affection and confidence that Manny and Neda have in this university and their deep appreciation of the arts.

Thank you so much for this gift.



Conferral of the President's Medal on Ralf Hotchkiss


Thank you.

At Commencement, we not only recognize all that you, our graduates, have achieved as students; we look ahead to what you can accomplish as educated and concerned citizens. And so, each year, we choose this day to honor outstanding individuals who we believe can serve as role models, exhibiting the highest values and achievements to which you can aspire.

You've heard from one such person already, our Alumnus of the Year. It is my privilege now to present another and to confer upon him the highest award that the president of a California State University campus may bestow on his or her own, the President's Medal for Service.

Conferred on rare occasions, the medal recognizes an individual whose work has longstanding and widespread benefits for the University and for our society at large.

The award seems custom-made for the man I am about to introduce, the creative mind and heart behind Whirlwind Wheelchair International, Ralf Hotchkiss.

Ralf, would you please join me.


Ralf Hotchkiss, you have spent your professional life reinventing the wheel, as it were. As co-founder and chief engineer of Whirlwind Wheelchair International, a program of the University's Urban Institute, you are attacking a formidable international problem and changing the lives of thousands along the way.

In developing nations around the world, some 20 million people have need of wheelchairs. But only 40,000 of them have one. That problem became very real to you 30 years ago during a trip to post-war Nicaragua, where you met four teenaged boys, all disabled from war injuries, but forced to take rides one at a time in a single decrepit wheelchair.

Since then, Ralf Hotchkiss, you have concentrated your enormous talents on designing low-cost, low-tech wheelchairs that can be made with simple available materials in workshops right in the countries where the chairs are needed.

Here on this campus, students come from around the world to work with you, learning how to build chairs, and preparing to take the knowledge back to their home countries where that knowledge can be put to use. You and Whirlwind wheelchairs go out to the world, and wherever the need is greatest, to bring mobility to people who without you would have no mobility.

You have achieved much, Ralf Hotchkiss. More than 500 people trained from 50 countries, and some 50,000 Whirlwind wheelchairs built so far. And Whirlwind continues to move on.

Ralf Hotchkiss, you have been called by Ralph Nader the "chair liberator of the world." And you are an inspiration to us all. And it is a joy to present with you the President's Medal for Service.

[President Corrigan places medal around Hotchkiss' neck]


Ralf Hotchkiss' Remarks


Thank you. Every day, I'm reminded why Whirlwind Wheelchair International is here at San Francisco State. It's because we need the help of the best and the brightest.

This semester in our class, Wheelchair Engineering, Wheelchair Design, Engineering 620, we had a blacksmith, a tinsmith and an electrician. Among them, working experience of 104 years.

Students serious, students of experience, among them David, fellow wheelchair rider. David, where are you? No need to stand up. We'll all sit down while you teach us how you have learned the hard way.

Thank you.


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Presentation of Commencement Speaker


Back when Rolling Stone was young, and so were the Rolling Stones themselves, San Francisco State University graduate Ben Fong-Torres had the best job in rock 'n' roll journalism. As an editor and writer of numerous cover stories for the magazine, his life was seemingly a nonstop backstage pass. He interviewed and socialized with the megastars of rock. Besides the Stones, his subjects included Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Jim Morrison, Paul McCartney, Elton John, The Grateful Dead, Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell and many, many more.

Ben's byline was the hottest in the business. And it still is. Today, some four decades later, you will find Ben Fong-Torres's insightful interviews in a broad range of newspapers and magazines: GQ, Esquire, Playboy, Sports Illustrated among them.

He is the San Francisco Chronicle's radio columnist. And you can look for his profiles of country superstar Tim McGraw and comedian Ellen Degeneres in upcoming issues of Parade magazine.

But to speak only of Ben's journalism is to ignore his other talents. In 1966, he earned his bachelor's degree in radio and television, and he has long been active in broadcast media.

He has worked as a trend-setting DJ, won a Billboard Award for broadcast excellence, and conducted interviews on KPIX TV's "Evening Magazine."

He hosts a syndicated radio show connected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, conducts numerous on-stage interviews at film and music festivals, and co-anchors KTVU's coverage of the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade, winning along the route several Emmys.

Ben is the author of several books, including his critically praised best-selling memoir, "The Rice Room: From Number Two Son to Rock and Roll," which, by the way, has just been optioned for a movie.

Two years ago, we were proud to induct Ben Fong-Torres into the Alumni Hall of Fame and to honor him as our Alumnus of the Year. Today I am equally proud to present him to you as the 2005 commencement speaker. Ben Fong-Torres.

Commencement Address


All right you punks, turn down your iPods.

Do you think those caps are hiding your ear buds? Unh-uh.

When I see you going like this (indicating), I know what's going on. Hey, can you hear in the back?


Good. It's the Cinema Department back there, I think.

I was walking along upper Market Street the other day and ran into Katy Dalton. And she said her department would be way in the back. So I promised to speak louder.

And where is Kelly Adams? Is she here? I was her boss at a startup in South San Francisco. And she left so that she could finish her degree in photojournalism. And she did. So good going.

Also greetings to the graduates in the College of Ethnic Studies.


I don't know them, actually.


All right. Settle down. Settle down.

Congratulations to all 7,700 of you, really. What a crowd. I've never seen so many job-seekers all in one place. Unfortunately, we only have five openings, and you're all overqualified. Tremendous resumes. So it's time to move back in with your folks for just a few more years.

President Corrigan, honorees, faculty members, friends and family, members of the class of 2005, thank you. It is a great honor for me to be here today. But here today, it is your day. You, the students, and your families, and everyone here at San Francisco State who have helped to bring you to this moment.

Still, I can't help but think back to June of 1966. That was my own graduation day here at San Francisco State. And I can't think of anything, because I didn't attend.


It was the '60s. We forgot, man.


So I don't think of myself as being particularly qualified to be standing here before you today. But fortunately I had some help. Just the other day, a former professor of mine in the Journalism Department sent an e-mail. Jerry Wortheimer was our faculty adviser for our daily newspaper and he wrote, "As your teacher and mentor at San Francisco State 40 years ago, I am obligated to help you with your Commencement address. You can't ad lib as do you on radio and in your narration of the New Year parades. You owe it to your audience at your alma mater to evaluate both your positive and negative education experience.

"Well, positive includes learning basic news writing from a master, and then becoming editor of the then-daily Golden Gater. This led to a successful career at Rolling Stone, winning big on 'Wheel of Fortune,' editing a magazine, radio and TV commentary, authoring books, and even part-time teaching in our own Journalism Department. But where you have succeeded as a reporter, editor and DJ, you have failed to be a well-organized person.

"That was proven in the piece on office clutter you wrote for the Chronicle Magazine. You had to hire professional organizers at a high price to clean out your home office. For that, you can blame SF State. Your mentor won the title of messiest campus office annually for more than 30 years.

You sent a press photographer to expose the mess, but you failed to learn from my sloppy habits. Instead, you inherited them and had to pay. Tell the graduates and their families what you learned and what you had to unlearn. Good luck."

Well, thank you. And, of course, he's right. My one downfall was allowing the accumulation of junk and clutter and papers and magazines and tapes and memorabilia, and I had to hire these two organizers at a cost of $1,000 a day to clear it all up and set me straight.

So my advice to you today is to stay organized.

Actually, come to think of it, I have better advice. Become a professional organizer.


A thousand bucks a day. You work a couple of months and take the rest of the year off. Kind of like Dr. Wortheimer.

Anyway, his e-mail takes me back to 1965. I had just been appointed city editor of the daily paper here. I was also a DJ on the campus radio station. And he was really pretty amazed. When I first registered here for $48 in the summer of 1962 -- yeah, but that's just for one semester. I had to take out a loan, man.

Anyway, around that time, I thought about the things I wanted to learn and to do in journalism and in broadcasting. But I saw them as pretty unrealistic. I was, after all, a Chinese-American out of Oakland's Chinatown. I still am. And 40 years ago there were no Asian-American role models in those fields. But I was in the right school at the right time. Here, there were no closed doors, no well-meaning little chats about how I might want to consider other lines of work where, you know, Asians have done well, like, "Hey, why don't you major in math?"

In the BECA Department, or Radio-TV-Film, as it was known then, we did actual DJ shows. And in journalism, we put out a paper every day. In the '60s our beat became "The '60s."

At the newspaper, I remember feeling we were all on an oasis, living life the way we wanted, with no concerns, or few, anyway, about money, careers, and the long-term future.

Many of us lived for the day.

Well, college was an oasis, and, ultimately, we did have to go into the real world. Many of us were in for some very rude shocks.

I was fortunate. I jumped onto another oasis, a rock and roll fantasy island called Rolling Stone. And I got that gig, I think, because of the freedom that we had to experiment with here at San Francisco State and the lessons learned from that freedom. Not to mention the fact that the managing editor at Rolling Stone happened to be John Burks, a fellow Gator, who is now chair of the Journalism Department.

In the '60s, San Francisco State was what was called a commuter college. Students came here for classes and then left. There was little in the way of sports programs, fraternities, or sororities. The student union was a cafeteria with the heart-stoppingly exciting name, The Commons.

And the coffee shop was known as "the coffee shop."

But many students did gather for speeches, meetings, and protest activity. There was a war going on, a civil rights movement, a free speech movement. There was a concern for social and political issues. That hasn't changed. And given the shape this country is in today, that must never change.


As Bob Dylan said, "Don't follow leaders. Watch your parking meters."

Good advice then; good advice now. And speaking of leaders, I am announcing today that I am running for governor.


That is, if I can convince another San Francisco State alumnus, Annette Bening, to be lieutenant governor.

Or maybe the other way around. That may work better.

Now, I know you've been subjected to lectures for four years. So I will try to avoid giving one today. I never cared much for lectures myself. I like a quick hit, like the one from a song writer, Bob Neuwirth, to the tune of, "If you don't take a chance, you ain't got a chance." That's the kind of stuff that stayed with me. It's catchy, kind of like an advertising slogan.

Which brings me back to the iPod that some of you are still listening to. I know it, I know you are.

Well, the slogan for the newest one, the Shuffle, is, "Life is random." Well, it can be, if you let it be random. But one thing I will concede, we do live in an iPod world. An iPod, or you can insert your favorite MP3 player here, offers instant gratification. You rip songs from your CDs, you download them from music sites. No more waiting for the radio to get around to playing the song or songs you want to hear. That's kind of like life. We've gotten used to quick cuts from newspapers and online sites to videos and movies. We want our favorite shows, and we want them now, on demand.

We're in a constant rush to get places, to amass the most money, to get the next new thing.

It's not healthy, this hyped-up self-absorption of ours. But that being said, and aside from material things, it is wise to get as much out of life as you can when you can.

Most of you entered this university just before Sept. 11, 2001. I don't need to tell you that this is a world of uncertainties. But that thought may have driven Gloria Steinem's advice to one graduating class. "From now on, time will pass without artificial academic measure. It will go by like the wind. Whatever you want to do, do it now, for life is time, and time is all there is."

But that's not to say or to advise that you should rush through life. You are young, most of you. You actually have plenty of time. And you'll encounter many ups and downs, beginnings and endings, and, as I like to quote David Bowie, "Ch-ch-ch-changes." So take time for yourself to learn about and to define yourself and your place in this world.

You know, I had some other iPod material about how ear buds allow you to shut out people and how modern life is too much din and too little communication and about how an iPod can promote diversity and opportunities for exploration and expanding horizons.

But I deleted all that because I was on campus on Thursday just to have a look around, and a senior named Raymond stopped me and said that he would not be here today. He is kind of a 2005 version of me, I guess. But he asked what advice I might have for him to succeed. And that made me think back to Jerry Wortheimer's memo in which he said to evaluate both my positive and negative experiences. So I told Raymond, "It's a tough, competitive world, especially where jobs are concerned. Take anything you can get, as long as it's in or near and can lead you to the field in which you most want to work. Use any contact you may have, friends, associates, even family members, and find that open door. Don't worry about internships or job titles. Once you're in and do the best work, there will be changes within the office or the store or the station. If you've done your job, you're in line to get a better one. And just as every business watches the bottom line, watch yours. Save your money. Prepare for the future. It comes along faster than you ever think it will. These are lessons I've had to learn through life. And the sooner you accept these as facts of life, the better yours will be."

I said before that I was lucky to jump from one oasis here at San Francisco State on to another, Rolling Stone magazine. Rolling Stone was a journalistic and cultural phenomenon, but it was, at bottom, a business. And still I like to think we also did some good and that we helped to spearhead a new form of journalism, to redefine so-called objective journalism, to recognize the import of pop culture coverage as the music of the day, folk and rock, country and blues, R&B and jazz, chronicle the events and concerns of those days. With the freedom we gave ourselves and others, writers, photographers, designers, we pushed media into previously unpaved directions.

That's the true reward of work. When you can take what is essentially work and make it something more than that.

Work can be drudgery if you let it be. But re-working work can take you into exciting new territory in which you enrich others as well as yourself.

The territory I carved out for myself was in music and entertainment writing. Even there, there are many lessons to be learned and to share with others. Just taking the most recent interviews I have done for Parade, I can point to Ellen DeGeneres, who told me that although she knew as a kid about the power of humor -- and this is hard to believe -- she was never a class clown in school and that she suffered from stage fright. And she said, "I was raised with a lot of fear, and I witnessed people who never did anything out of the what-ifs and the fears. I didn't want to end up that way."

With Carlos Santana, the lesson was where lessons could come from. He had been dragged kicking and screaming into America by his family, who had moved here from Mexico in the early '60s. Carlos was in Tijuana, where he was playing guitar in bars and strip clubs. He said, "I wanted to stay in an environment where I was around grown-up musicians and prostitutes." He said, "This is my university, right here. This is where you learn the real music, man." That's right. Well, that's a kind of music.

Which is not unlike my always saying that I got much more from working at the Gater day-to-day than from journalism classes. The point is, school is invaluable, but nothing beats real-life experience.

Sheryl Crow told me how she sometimes involves family members in the making of her music. She said, "It always stuns me how many people I deal with don't like some members of their family. My life lesson is -- you get born into a family of people, and you may not be that much alike, but if you're really lucky, you'll like them and love them. I'm really lucky, because I enjoy my family. There's a lot you can learn from being a family member about empathy and forgiveness. And that's what it's really about for me."

And, finally, there's Al Green, who turned away from soul music when he was born again. He started his own church. And now he manages to work in both gospel and secular music. He has a song on his latest CD called "Magic Road," and it is not about magic. As he puts, "You can be a CEO with a big house driving a Mercedes-Benz. Then there's a little guy riding around in a Volkswagen. But he deserves a shot like everybody else. So 'Magic Road' is about sharing and saying, 'Jump in here and do your thing.' That's the magic road, being able to make this life work for you."

So you've got to jump in there. Or here it comes again -- if you don't take a chance, you ain't got a chance.

Well, a couple of years ago, Peter Yarrow was the commencement speaker here. That's right. The Peter of Peter, Paul and Mary. And he closed his address by leading a sing-along of "Puff, the Magic Dragon." Sorry, I won't do that. That is so 1963.

To be more up-to-date, I thought we would do a mashup. You know what a mashup is? Right? Just two songs, totally different songs, played or now, hopefully, today, sung, together. I'm thinking that one-half of the group here, these 11,450, you can do "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." Green Day, totally. And then this half here can do "Gin and Juice." Is that all right? Snoop Dogg in the house? Or Kanye West, "College Dropout"? What do you think? Ready, go!


Well, you want something more traditional. Maybe "We Are the Champions," or "Climb Every Mountain" or "Cinnamon Girl," or "Love Shack." All right.

I think I've got it. (sings):

Puff the Magic Dragon, lived by the sea, frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Hanalee.

Little Jackie Paper loved that dragon puff, brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff.


Oh, Puff the Magic Dragon lived by the sea, and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Hanalee.


And now when you go home, you can download that on your iPod.

Class of 2005, do good, be good, but most of all, congratulations.



Thank you, Ben.

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President's Remarks


Okay. Listen up, class of 2005. In just a few minutes, we will arrive at that part of the program for which you have all been waiting, the conferral of the degrees.


Another word or two before we do proceed.

You know, you are the faces, the future of the 21st century. You're white, you're black, you're brown, you're tan, you're male, you're female, you're old, you're young. In all of your wonderful diversity, you will be the young century's heart, its mind, its leadership. Always remember that you are an exceptionally talented and as well-educated a group as can be found anywhere in this world. And you are graduating into a world of exceptional challenges. We know that you will rise to meet them.

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Conferral of Doctoral Degree


And we now begin with the conferral of degrees. Provost John Gemello and Dr. Ann Hallum, dean of graduate studies, will present the candidate for the doctoral degree.


By the joint action of the Board of Regents of the University of California and the Board of Trustees of the California State University, we are awarding one doctoral degree today with the University of California, San Francisco.


This commencement marks the first time we will confer the degree Doctor of Physical Therapy Science. Will Meredith Wampler please come forward? We're also pleased to announce that Meredith will be taking a position as an assistant professor in the Physical Therapy Program.



Mr. President, subject to the completion of all requirements as prescribed by the Board of Regents of the University of California, the Trustees of the California State University, and the faculties of the University of California, San Francisco, and San Francisco State University, Meredith Wampler is presented for receipt of the degree Doctor of Physical Therapy Science.


Upon the recommendation of the administrative and teaching faculty of San Francisco State University and of the University of California, San Francisco, and by the authority vested in me as president of the University by the state of California, under the provisions of the Donahoe Higher Education Act, I confer upon you, Meredith Wampler the degree of Doctor of Physical Therapy Science with all of the rights, honors and opportunities attached thereto.


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Presentation of the Hood Recipients


And now it's time to introduce the graduating students on the platform who President Corrigan mentioned earlier. These are our 2005 hood recipients.

It's an academic custom to invest those earning degrees with hoods that designate the degree bestowed. Time doesn't allow us, unfortunately, to present each of the graduates here today with a hood. Therefore, the graduate program has chosen an outstanding student to represent all of those receiving their master's degree. And each college of the university has chosen an outstanding student to represent those earning undergraduate degrees.

These students will receive the hood on behalf of their fellow members of the class of 2005.

Would the hood recipients and their respective deans please come forward.

Please hold your applause until all of the hood recipients have been presented.

[Hood recipients and deans came forward]


Representing all students receiving their master's degree today is Ms. Nichelle Drake-Garcia, who is receiving a master of arts in museum studies. Nichelle Drake-Garcia has drawn on her own rich cultural heritage in her museum studies work. Of Native American, Mexican, Filipino and European ancestry, she has held internships at the California Academy of Science and the Marin Museum of the American Indian. Her area of special study is the preservation, presentation and interpretation of Native American culture in mainstream American museums. Her survey on that subject has attracted the attention of the Smithsonian Museum.


Dean of Graduate Division Ann Hallum will now present the hood.


Ms. Natasha Lee Scholtz, an economics major, has been selected to receive the investiture in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Natasha Scholtz is graduating with the highest grade point average this year in our demanding economics program. Both in and outside of the classroom, Natasha appears to thrive on challenges. When her full-time job in the high-tech company disappeared in the dot-com bust her freshman year, she waited tables, babysat, dog sat and eventually found a job as a bank teller, working 60 hours a week to stay in school.

For now, she will continue her work with another high-tech firm, but she is looking ahead to a master's degree or perhaps law school.


Joel Kassiola, Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, will now confer the hood.

Representing all of today's graduates in the College of Business is Ms. Felicity Clare Fyfe, an accounting major.


Before she moved to the U.S. from England, Felicity Fyfe had worked in advertising, marketing, and fund-raising. But when she decided to pursue a college education, she discovered much to her surprise that she loved the orderly beauty of accounting. She has volunteered for an IRS program that helps elderly and low-income clients file their tax returns, and she is graduating with a job. She will join the accounting firm where she interned this spring.


College of Business Dean William Pertulla will confer the hood.


Mr. Cameron Fuller, an art major, has been selected to receive the hood on behalf of all graduates in the College of Creative Arts.


Printmaker Cameron Fuller's work has been described as "art that crosses boundaries between print, sculpture, and theory." He is regarded as one of the best students the Art Department has seen in the past decade, and faculty have often used his research papers as models for other students. This fall, Cameron will enter the master of fine arts program in printmaking at Washington University in St. Louis, where a $10,000 annual stipend and a teaching assistantship await him.


The Dean of the College of Creative Arts, Keith Morrison, will confer the hood.


Ms. Simone Juanita Kytle, a communicative disorders major, has been selected to receive the hood for the College of Education.


Simone Kytle discovered her life's calling while working with an autistic child. She immediately changed her major from psychology to communicative disorders. While achieving an outstanding academic record, she has volunteered at California Pacific Medical Center, working with young children who have communicative disorders. She has tutored fellow students in her former field of psychology, and she has held a leadership post in the national student speech, language and hearing association. Next fall, Simone will enter our communicative disorders master's program.


The Dean of the College of Education, Jake Perea, will confer the hood.


Ms. Shawnna Demmons, a major in black studies, has been selected to receive the hood in the College of Ethnic Studies.


Black studies major Shawnna Vel Demmons says that if you don't know your history, you don't know yourself. Through her major, Shawnna has learned about herself and her culture, knowledge she hopes she will take towards her ultimate goal of helping the African-American community. While pursuing her degree, she has often worked a 13-hour day, without compromising her excellent academic record. Shawnna plans to pursue an advanced degree in law, social science or public health.


The Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, Kenneth Monteiro, will confer the hood.


ANNOUNCER: Ms. Sarah Kathleen Baldwin, a recreation and leisure studies major, has been selected to receive the investiture in the College of Health and Human Services.


Sarah Baldwin sees the health and societal value of recreation. "Everyone has to have something that balances out their life," she says. A dedicated volunteer, she has amassed an impressive record of community service, including tutoring in an after-school program and leading kayaking trips for Environmental Traveling Companions, an organization that uses outdoor adventures to promote the personal growth of persons with disabilities. Sarah plans a career in the tourism industry.


The Dean of the College of Health and Human Services, Don Taylor, will confer the hood.


ANNOUNCER: Mr. Matthew Lucas Parn, a major in technical and professional writing, has been selected to receive the hood on behalf of all grants in the College of Humanities.


Is that your group?

In his native Australia, Matthew Parn had a successful career writing speeches for members of Parliament. But the high-technology world beckoned, and he moved to San Francisco, where he enrolled in our Technical and Professional Writing Program.

During his study, he has produced impressive writing samples, including a tutorial for using chat software and an online help system for California-bound international students.

His goal is to write multimedia Web content for a leading technology company.


Paul Sherwin, Dean of the College of Humanities, will confer the hood.


Ms. Lisa Yong Wu, a biochemistry major, has been selected to receive the hood on behalf of all of the graduates in the College of Science and Engineering.



Biochemistry major Lisa Yong Wu is already a seasoned researcher. She is coauthor of two papers published in biochemistry journals and has presented her research before the national chemical society. Her community service record is equally impressive, including volunteer work for the Red Cross, San Francisco Public Library, Leukemia Society, and the Asian Women's Shelter. A native of China and the first in her family to complete high school, Lisa plans to go on for a doctorate in chemistry.


Sheldon Axler, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, will confer the hood.


Ms. Lisa Duque has been selected to receive the hood on behalf of all Liberal Studies graduates.


Liberal Studies major Lisa Duque, the recipient of a national Hispanic scholarship, is an aspiring third-grade teacher. Her imaginative approach to education shows clearly in one of her volunteer projects. For the last three years, she has taught an after-school cooking class to elementary school children. The class features an international menu, and the children learn about new cultures while they also get hands-on lessons in math and science. Lisa hopes to teach full-time next fall.


Dean of Undergraduate Studies Daniel Buttlaire will now confer the hood.



We are tremendously proud of these outstanding students. Please join me in a round of applause for our 2005 hood recipients.



Conferring of Master's Degrees


Provost Gemello will now present the candidates for the master's degree. Will all the candidates for the degree Master of Arts please rise. The candidates for the degree Master of Fine Arts, the candidates for the degree Master of Business Administration. The candidates for the degree Master of Music, the candidates for the degree Master of Public Administration, the candidates for the degree Master of Public Health, the candidates for the degree Master of Science, and the candidates for the degree Master of Social Work.


Mr. President, subject to the completion of all requirements as prescribed by the trustees of the California State University and the faculty of San Francisco State University, these candidates are presented for receipt of the appropriate master's degrees.


On the recommendation of the administrative and teaching faculty of San Francisco State University and by the authority vested in me as president by the University and the state of California, I confer upon each of you who has completed the requirements the master's degree for which you are listed in the commencement program, together with all rights, privileges and responsibilities attached thereto.



Will the master's degree recipients please be seated.

In a few moments, the faculty marshals will guide you to the stages row by row.

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Distribution of Diplomas to Master's Degree Candidates


Will the deans please go to their respective stages. And will the faculty marshals please direct the master's degree recipients to the stages. Starting from the front, we ask that graduates wait for the marshals' instructions. And then after leaving the stages, graduates will proceed to the rear of the stadium and will be guided out.

Coming forward to the stage on the right of the jumbo screen will be the graduates from the colleges of Education, Behavioral and Social Sciences, Humanities, Liberal Studies, Special Majors, and Health and Human Services. To the stage on the left of the screen, graduates from the colleges of Business, Ethnic Studies, Science and Engineering and Creative Arts.


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Conferring of Bachelor's Degrees


And now the moment for which so many have been waiting.


Will the candidates for the degree Bachelor of Arts please rise.

Will the candidates for the degree Bachelor of Music please rise.

And the candidates for the degree Bachelor of Science please rise.


Mr. President, subject to the completion of all requirements as prescribed by the trustees of the California State University and the faculty of San Francisco State University, these candidates are presented for receipt of the appropriate baccalaureate degree.


Upon the recommendation of the administrative and teaching faculty of San Francisco State University and by the authority vested in me as president of the University by the state of California, I confer upon each of you who have completed the requirements the baccalaureate for which you are listed in the commencement program, together with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities attached thereto.



It is customary that those receiving the baccalaureate degree move the tassels of their caps from the right side to the left side.

I ask that you who have just received your degrees move your tassels now.



Members of the class of 2005, we leave you today hoping that you're filled with joy and confidence and with a sense of social responsibility. As you leave us, you take with you our affection and respect, our belief in you, and our hope that you will fulfill all of your dreams. God bless you all.

And will members of the audience please join in one last round of applause for the class of 2005.


Distribution of Diplomas to Bachelor's Degree Candidates 

Deans distribute diplomas as before, students exit stadium after receiving their diplomas.

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Last modified May 28, 2005 by University Communications