CALIFORNIA — “I’ve been a lot of places since I left California University 35 years ago, and I haven’t seen any place where you can’t succeed. Whether you make it a home game or an away game, you can win,” Mark Camillo said during his address to California University graduating seniors. “In 35 years or even less, one of you will be standing here as I am now.”

Camillo is senior vice president for strategic planning at Contemporary Services Corp., as well as a senior fellow at the George Mason University Center for Infrastructure Protection, where he provides subject-matter expertise in security studies and operations. A 1976 alumnus of California University, his career in law enforcement includes 21 years in the Secret Service, where he protected four U.S. presidents and their families.

His encouraging words were heard by nearly 1,000 undergraduate students awarded baccalaureate degrees on May 18. Camillo quoted author Thomas Friedman when he said, “The world is more flat.”

“We have a global marketplace. There’s a career out there for you. Go get it,” Camillo said. “As California University graduates, you’ve demonstrated you have sound judgment, a strong work ethic, patience, persistence and, last but not least, ambition.”

Camillo also recognized the role the students’ families played in helping them accomplish their educational goals.

“Congratulations to the families who made sacrifices, emotionally and financially, so your kids could go to college. They did it,” he said. “Enjoy this moment.”

While he commended the graduates on their achievements, Camillo urged them to not rest on their laurels.

“Don’t take anything for granted. After your graduation victory lap, you’d better get busy,” he said.

Prior to Camillo’s address, President Geraldine Jones began her welcoming remarks by thanking university faculty members “for their commitment to our students.” She referenced her 45-year career at the university, during which she said, “I’ve always been proud of California University.”

“I’m proud of the graduates assembled here today for their hard work,” she said. “I’m very much aware of the role you’ll play in our future.”

Jones stressed that graduates “can contribute significantly to our world. Each of us has a responsibility to care for our fellow man. You will face many opportunities and many decisions. Be confident, appreciate your talents, follow your dreams and enjoy every step. As Eleanor Roosevelt once stated, ‘The purpose of life is to live it.’”

Jones recognized 2013 Senior Class Envoys Alexandra Brooks and Keith Fuller, who presented President Jones with the senior class gift of $10,144.63 to help fund future student scholarships.

In addition to undergraduate degrees, masters’ degrees were conferred upon nearly 300 California University graduate students on the evening of May 17.

Dr. Deborah Shanley, Class of 1974, addressed the graduate students shortly before they were vested in their academic hoods.

Shanley is the senior education dean at City University of New York’s (CUNY) Brooklyn College, where she continues a distinguished 39-year career in public education.

The May 17 and 18 ceremonies were the 176th commencement exercises to be held at California University.

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