Our students come to Cal. State Monterey Bay for many different reasons. Perhaps it was a particular academic program that attracted you to CSUMB. Maybe a friend or a relative had a great experience here. Maybe you wanted to stay near home, or put a bit of distance between yourself and home. Perhaps you just always wanted to be close to the beach.
Whatever reason brought you here, once you arrived, you built a support system, a web of friendships. You found people you could celebrate with when you succeeded and draw comfort from when the challenges seemed overwhelming.
You built a community.
One definition of community is “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” A college campus is not really a typical example. While some faculty and staff members are here for many years, a substantial portion of the student body changes from one year to the next. Many of you share common interests and goals, but you arrive on campus with attitudes and points of view formed by life experiences unique to each one of you.
But somehow, you make it all work.
I don’t need to tell you that we live in contentious times. Our political dialogue often seems to consist more of name-calling than of reasoned debate. And our campus is not immune from the prevailing political passions. Our DACA students, for example, must deal with the uncertainties created by potentially life-altering changes in federal immigration law. Moreover, the debates over sexual assault and harassment, which have been ignited in the society at large, certainly resonate on every college campus.
However, I am proud that our campus community has remained strong in the face of these and other issues. We have tried to listen to one another, to promote dialogue and understanding.
Now, as another academic year comes to a close, we celebrate the accomplishments of our students, especially those who are busily finishing up their Capstone presentations and preparing to walk across the stage at Commencement.
To our graduates, I say congratulations on a job well done. You are the best possible examples of the power of higher education to change lives and make dreams real.
For those students who will be returning in the fall, I hope you have a fun and interesting summer. I hope you return ready to help our next wave of new freshmen and transfer students take their places in the special community we have built here at CSUMB.