Graduation is a turning point in every student’s life, but for some, it’s just one more new beginning, another detour along life’s path.
Vincente Sagisi had been a regional scout for the Cleveland Indians for nine years when he was recruited into CLU’s educational leadership program in Santa Maria. With a new Master of Arts in Education in hand, Sagisi has accepted a position being created for him at a high school in the San Fernando Valley. He also will continue as general manager of the California Wahoos, a program he created in 2006 to help Central Coast high school baseball players get noticed by college coaches and professional scouts. Now his ultimate career goal is to become a school athletic director.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in accounting from CLU in 2008, Jessica Blackshear spent three years doing taxes for a large CPA firm and found it wasn’t what she wanted. So she came back for CLU’s Counseling and Guidance-College Student Personnel Program and was hired as graduate resident director. Mental health issues in residence life became the subject of her master’s thesis. A member of the Chickasaw, Blackshear received scholarships from her tribe and was accepted into the Holitoplichi (Chickasha honors society). She wore a graduation stole representing the society when she was awarded her Master of Science in Education. Blackshear has been hired as a resident director at the University of Washington.
Leah Griffith saved her core 21 courses for first semester senior year, when she planned to study in Peru. Those plans were set aside because her mother was losing a long battle with cancer. Her mother died in August, and Griffith stayed home fall semester taking the core courses online. She graduated on time with a degree in psychology and now plans to become an occupational therapist working with cancer patients. In honor of her mother, who had wanted Griffith to study abroad despite her illness, Griffith will volunteer for three months this fall in Cusco, Peru, working with children and improving her Spanish.
“You are following in the footsteps of five decades of graduates who moved on from us with a purpose,” Connie Stewart ’98, president of the alumni association, told the new graduates. “You are joining a dynamic network of alumni that includes more than 23,000 individuals who care about CLU and the students that emerge from here as leaders.”
Doctoral speaker Amanda Carpenter, who earned a degree in higher education leadership, issued a challenge: “As we celebrate our successes today, I challenge everyone to think about how we can create a better tomorrow for our future scholars.”
Undergraduate Commencement speaker Karsten Lundring ’65, a regular at Kingsmen football games, spoke of the benefits of being an active alum and ended his speech the same way he celebrates every CLU touchdown: by throwing handfuls of candy to the students.