CSUN’s Class of 2019-2020 worked too hard — and overcame too many challenges — not to celebrate the completion of this chapter in their academic journey, at least virtually.
The spring 2020 semester wrapped up this month like no other in the nearly 62-year history of CSUN. The way CSUN seniors responded proved what Matadors always have known about themselves: They are dedicated, hard-working, humble, ambitious and tenacious. Through it all, they have reached their goal — completing a degree.
CSUN is planning to hold an in-person graduation celebration when it is safe to do so, a strong preference expressed by students. But the campus community couldn’t end the 2019-2020 academic year without cheering the Class of 2019-2020, even if those cheers rang out over the internet. On Saturday, May 16, CSUN honored the 11,790 students eligible to graduate with a “Cheers to the Class of 2019-2020” virtual celebration.
The desire for celebration was evident. Graduates shared photos of themselves in caps, gowns and personalized sashes — taken in their homes, at some of Southern California’s stunning landscapes and in front of virtual backgrounds provided by the CSUN Library. On social media, students posted “We did it!” messages, and their loved ones posted emotional tributes to sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, spouses and parents who toiled to overcome challenges both personal and global.
CSUN honored its newest graduates with a video that included messages from university leaders and famous alumni, as well as a performance of the alma mater, “Hail to the Matadors,” by Xochitl Hernandez ’20 (Music – Vocal Arts). Nearly 1,200 people watched the video immediately after it was posted, a number that has risen to more than 15,000 since.
The video included messages from CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison, Associated Students President Diana Vicente ’20 (Marketing), Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students William Watkins and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary Beth Walker.
Harrison raised a glass to the graduates and praised their resolve in the face of historic adversity. By graduating, she said, students have elevated themselves and their families.
“Along with your education from CSUN, your fierce spirit and perseverance will serve you well as you go through life,” Harrison said. “If universities gave degrees in tenacity, you would all have double or triple majors. You are trailblazers and leaders. And your impact on our world is needed now more than ever.”
Watkins traditionally welcomes graduates and their families to CSUN’s commencement ceremonies. He played that role as part of the virtual “cheers.”
“You’re finishing strong in what was a very difficult and challenging semester,” Watkins said. “I invite you to take a deep breath, pause, and reflect on all the hard work and the determination that was required of you in order for you to complete your degree.”
Surprise guests included notable alumni Serj Tankian ’89 (Marketing), a musician and producer best known as lead singer of the rock band System of a Down, and singer-songwriter and actor Aijia Grammer, who recently competed on “The Voice,” who appeared with her husband, singer/songwriter/producer Andy Grammer ’07 (Music).
Vicente struck an optimistic note, calling on her fellow Matadors to build a better world as they face today’s challenges head-on.
“It wasn’t easy, and as I look into our future, we have a long way to go,” Vicente said. “But I have no fear. There is uncertainty, but I stand hopeful. Our students will be the ones leading our tomorrow.”
To help graduates receive virtual graduation portraits, student assistants in the CSUN Library’s Creative Media Studio Photoshopped photos submitted by graduates like Briana Alexis Martinez onto virtual backgrounds. (The studio is still providing this virtual portrait service until June 1: https://library.csun.edu/wish-you-were-here.)
California State University, Northridge officials have released details for a primarily virtual fall semester, with a handful of graduate and undergraduate courses and labs being offered face-to-face. Named “CSUN as One,” CSUN launched a website for the campus’ fall 2020 instruction and operational plans.
Governor Gavin Newsom and California legislative leaders reached an agreement on Monday on an amended state budget for 2020-21 which prevents cuts to apportionments and categorical programs for California community colleges.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the nation transitioned to meeting online. Given the abruptness of the transition and lack of preparation parents had in becoming in-home teachers’ aides, many parents and educators are worried about a “COVID slide” or “COVID slowdown,” where students fail to retain any new information learned before and during the pandemic — as well as over the summer, when students are not in school.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed Tuesday the highest number of new cases of COVID-19 reported in a day with 4,015 new cases and 46 new deaths. The high number of cases are, in part, due to a backlog of about 2,000 test results received from one lab who just submitted lab results from July 2 through July 5.
The fast-spreading brush fire that burned nearly 1,498 acres in Agua Dulce reached 68% containment by Tuesday morning, with firefighters still in the area scouting for potential flare-ups, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department officials.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appoints Norma Edith García as the new Director of the Department Parks and Recreation and the Los Angeles County Regional Parks and Open Space District. Garcia is the first woman and first person of color to serve in this capacity since the founding of the Department in 1944.
Another resident of the city of Santa Clarita has died due to COVID-19, the city's 26th fatality and the 33rd in the Santa Clarita Valley to date, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
After breaking a daily coronavirus testing record over the July 4 holiday weekend, California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday said hospitalizations remain alarmingly high as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the state’s largest counties.
A brush fire dubbed the Soledad Fire burned more than 1,000 acres and shut down Highway 14 Sunday, and as of 9 a.m. Monday was 30% contained, according to Los Angeles County Fire Chief Deputy David R. Richardson Jr.
Smoke from the Soledad Fire burning near Agua Dulce has caused unhealthy air quality in the Santa Clarita Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains, sparking a smoke advisory from Los Angeles County Public Health officials.
The city of Santa Clarita has canceled the 2020 Concerts in the Park series due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and in accordance with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Safer at Home order.
After improving the data processing systems, which resulted in no data being reported since Thursday, July 2, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Sunday reported an increase of 7,232 new cases for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Park officials have announced Los Angeles County regional parks and natural areas, which include William S. Hart Park, Placerita Nature Center and Vasquez Rocks, will now be closed Mondays and Tuesdays due to staffing reductions.
As the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health suspends daily reports until Monday, the California Department of Public Health on Friday confirmed a total of 248,235 cases statewide as of July 2 (up from 5,688 from July 1 and another 2,352 results received), with 6,263 deaths (up 100 from July 1) from the disease.