SF State News {University Communications}

Image: Photos of SF State students and scenes from around campus

News Release

SF State to hold 109th Commencement exercises on May 22

Civil rights leader Lateefah Simon, environmentalist and filmmaker Randy Hayes to deliver speeches


SAN FRANCISCO, May 17, 2010 -- More than 20,000 people are expected to gather to celebrate San Francisco State University's Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 22 in Cox Stadium. Civil rights leader Lateefah Simon, environmentalist and filmmaker Randy Hayes and student speaker Marilyn Thomas will address the 8,092 graduating students and their guests. Nineteen Japanese American students who were forcibly removed from San Francisco State during World War II will be honored during the Commencement exercises.

The gates to Cox Stadium open at 10:30 a.m. on May 22. Graduates will line up by noon in the stadium for the processional at 12:15 p.m. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.

Media wishing to attend should register in advance by contacting University Communications at (415) 338-1665.

Keynote address
Civil rights advocate Lateefah Simon will be the keynote speaker at this year's Commencement. Simon has been fighting for social justice since her teenage years and at 26, she was one of the youngest people to be awarded a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, which she received for her work with at-risk young women on the streets of San Francisco. In 2009, Simon became executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, which advances the rights of communities of color, immigrants and refugees through litigation, policy advocacy and services such as legal clinics and pro bono legal representation.

Honorary Degrees
SF State will recognize the 19 Nikkei students who were forcibly removed from SF State during World War II. The University will honor these students with honorary Bachelor of Humane Letters degrees. Families will take part in SF State's commencement ceremony, accepting degrees on behalf of their relatives.

Alumnus of the Year
Filmmaker and environmentalist Randy Hayes (M.A. '80) has been named the 2010 Alumnus of the Year by San Francisco State University. Once described by the Wall Street Journal as an "environmental pitbull," Randy Hayes has dedicated his life to protecting the environment and shedding light on environmentally destructive business practices by some of the world's largest companies. Hayes won the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award for "Best Student Documentary" in 1983 for "The Four Corners," which examined the social, cultural and environmental effects of energy development in the U.S. Southwest. Hayes founded the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) in 1985. Headquartered in San Francisco, RAN uses high-visibility marketing campaigns to align the policies of multinational corporations with environmental protectionism. 

Student Commencement Speaker
This year's student speaker is Marilyn Thomas, hood recipient for the College of Science and Engineering. Thomas, graduating with a bachelor's in biology, was raised in San Francisco's Hunters Point neighborhood before moving to the peninsula as a teenager.  Homeless at 15, Marilyn was forced to quit high school at 17 to earn a living. A single mother at 20, she changed the direction of her life through hard work and perseverance. After earning a GED, she worked as a model in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, and as a massage therapist, which prompted her to pursue an academic career that would enable her to work in the health care field. Thomas is a resident of San Carlos and is preparing to attend medical school.




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