CALIFORNIA -- "You did it. You did it after a lot of hard work. You believed in yourself and you did it," said retired Major General Donna Barbisch as she began her address to California University of Pennsylvania graduating seniors. "Commencement is just the beginning. Tomorrow, your adventure begins. As California University graduates, you have the foundation. Dream big."
The president of consulting firm Global Deterrence Alternatives, retired Major General Donna Barbisch is a leading expert on preparing for emergencies including catastrophic disasters, terroristic acts and other, less recognized threats.
Her charge reached the ears of almost 1,000 undergraduate students awarded baccalaureate degrees on May 12. A 1984 alumna of California University, Barbisch quoted Heinz food company founder H. J. Heinz when she told students to "do a common thing uncommonly well" near the conclusion of her address. "Your perfect job is out there," she said. "Find your ketchup."
Prior to her speech, California University president Dr. Angelo Armenti noted in his welcoming remarks it was the first May commencement to be held at the newly constructed Convocation Center. "Always remember the University's core values of integrity, civility and responsibility," he told the assembled graduates before reminding them they were joining "an elite company" of over 55,000 California University alumni. He recognized Corey Stoner, a graduate and the 2012 Senior Class Envoy who presented Dr. Armenti with the senior class gift of $8,024 to help fund future student scholarships.
Following Dr. Armenti's greeting, University Provost Geraldine Jones introduced Muriel Summers on whom Dr. Armenti conferred an honorary degree, a Doctor of Humane Letters. Summers is principal of the A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C., where she integrated Dr. Stephen R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People into the class curriculum, placing special emphasis on leadership.
After accepting the honorary degree, Summers briefly addressed the candidates for graduation. "I challenge you to lead your life from this moment in the way you want to be remembered. Ask yourself: What is life asking of me? Lead with your heart, mind and soul," she said.
According to Dr. Armenti, on August 3, 2011, California University was designated the world's first FranklinCovey Leadership University. Fifty-one of the students who graduated on May 11 completed the FranklinCovey Leader for Life program and were recognized during the ceremony along with six University faculty members who also completed the program.
In addition to undergraduate degrees, Masters' degrees were conferred upon nearly 300 California University graduate students on the evening of May 11. Dr. Robert Delamontagne, Class of 1966, spoke to graduate students shortly before they were vested in their academic hoods. Dr. Delamontagne was a pioneer in the computer-based training industry and served as founder and chairman of EduNeering Inc. for 25 years until his retirement in 2007.
The May 11 and 12 ceremonies were the 174th commencement exercises to be held at California University.