• Gabby Homesley and Stephanie Smith wave to family and friends as they celebrate their graduation at University Stadium on Saturday.(Jason Halley/Staff Photo)<p class='dotPhoto'>All Chico E-R photos are available <a href='http://chicoer.mycapture.com/'>here</a>.</p>



CHICO — Excitement, joy and relief permeated University Stadium in Chico on Saturday as more than 1,200 men and women became Chico State University alumni.

As thousands of friends, parents, spouses, children and others packed the bleachers, 2013 graduates of the colleges of Communication and Education, Humanities and Fine Arts, and Natural Sciences lined up in a nearby field for the 123rd annual Commencement of Chico State University.

And they were ready!

“It”s the best feeling ever,” said Kate Isganitis, a bio-chemistry major. “I”m so happy. It makes the hard work pay off.”

Isganitis wore a cap and gown and walked with her peers for the ceremony, but she will officially get her diploma after the winter semester.

Her aspiration is to be an analytical chemist at a winery.

Shayna Cassidy was one of hundreds who decorated their caps in a personal way. She covered the cap with thumbnail-size pictures reflecting all of her college experiences.

Cassidy bubbled with joy at graduating from college. She majored in exercise physiology and has a full-time job lined up at Fleet Feet in Sacramento.

“Oh my God, I”m so excited,” she exclaimed. “I have a great future ahead of me.”

She acknowledged the work at Chico State was tough at times.

“Yeah, it was really hard, but I did it!” Cassidy said.

For journalism major Earl Parsons, graduating was a relief.

He is a little later in graduating than his peers because he had to take a semester off in 2009-10, due to financial problems.

Of his plans for the future, he said he had no other options but going into journalism.

“Writing is the only thing I know,” said Parsons. “I feel relieved. I”m happy to be done.”

At 9 a.m., the commencement began, with the graduates entering the stadium to wild cheers.

Chico State President Paul Zingg welcomed the graduates, who earned bachelor”s degrees.

“We share your pride and your hopes, and look forward to your futures,” Zingg said.

Natural Sciences graduate Ellie Amanda Pilecki Oliver gave a speech about her reflections.

“Looking back to four years ago, I”m amazed at how we”ve changed,” Oliver began.

She said that what shaped her over the last four years were the people she met, the relationships she formed and the experiences she had.

A field trip to Costa Rica was a pivotal and important part of her education at Chico State.

“I didn”t expect my world view to explode,” she told her peers. “It was a humble experience.”

Noting that the university is a “catalyst,” Oliver said it brings people together who want to better themselves.

She concluded, “Life will challenge us … we will always carry our relationships and a little bit of Chico with us.”

One humorous address was given by Academic Senate Chair Russell Mills, who gave the graduates their final “lecture.”

He noted a trend toward offering college courses online that could one day mean students wouldn”t attend classes in person.

Mills quipped that college students of the future could even take a course taught by Lara Croft, referring to a video game and film character. The audience laughed.

“A university should be a place of people…,” Mills added. “Never forget your experiences here, and help to encourage the next generations to come.”

Before giving out certificates (not actual diplomas), Zingg told the class of 2013 there was one way they were unique.

Zingg cited a recent national scorecard initiated by President Obama that is designed to keep colleges and universities accountable by rating college costs, loan default rates, student loan borrowing and employment starting out at mid-career-level salaries.

“Only one university (in the country) earned a perfect score,” he said. “You are graduating from that place today.”

Zingg urged the 1,200 graduates to have the “audacity to hope,” to dream for a brighter future, to champion reason and respect, and to think kindly of the university.

“We hope you leave us more self-reliant, more tolerant, more curious…,” Zingg concluded. “We are a better place because you have been here.”

CSUC commencement wraps up today

Chico State University”s two-day commencement concludes today, beginning at 9 a.m. at University Stadium.

Today graduates from the College of Agriculture, the College of Behavior and Social Sciences, the College of Business, and the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management will be honored.

Also, Wendell Lundberg, a member of a renowned rice-growing family from Richvale and a 1953 graduate of Chico State, will be awarded an honorary doctoral degree.

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