Fresno State continues to showcase its diversity this week with these Commencement events May 15 and 16:

  • The American Indian Graduation Celebration will be from 5:30-8 p.m. Friday at the Woodward Park Amphitheater.
  • The International Commencement Celebration will be at 6 p.m. Friday in the Music Building Concert Hall with 154 students from 65 different countries.
  • The second annual  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) Commencement Celebration will be from at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the Leon S. and Pete P. Peters Educational Center Auditorium, and will feature keynote speaker Jeffery Robinson, CEO of Community Link Incorporated.
  • The 39th Annual Latino Commencement Celebration at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Save Mart Center will honor Ultiminio “Tim” Rios, senior vice president and community development manager for Wells Fargo, and Marta Rosas, general director of El Agua es Asunto de Todos, which is the event sponsor.

    Dr. Ng and Pres. Castro –

Last week, the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Commencement Celebration honored 50 students on May 9, and the Educational Opportunity Program Graduate Recognition Celebration was held May 8.

 American Indian Graduation Celebration

The second annual American Indian Graduation Celebration will be from 5:30-8 p.m.  Friday at the Woodward Park Amphitheater (7775 N Friant Rd.) in north Fresno.

The event includes a traditional California Indian blessing and dinner before the graduates and their families are honored. Family members are allowed to speak about the graduates. Dr. Corinne Florez, director of the Title IV-E program in the Department of Social Work and Education who is retiring, will be honored.

Admission to the park is $5 per vehicle until about 6 p.m. ($3 if senior citizen is driver or passenger. Free if display valid Disabled person Placard/Decal and Gold Star plates and for active military with ID. See

For more information, contact Dr. Kenneth Hansen at 559.278.2260 or Dr. Charles Ettner at 559.278.8831.


International Commencement Celebration – increased numbers

The largest graduating class of international and study abroad students in more than a decade will be honored at 6 p.m. Friday with 154 students representing 65 different countries, an increase over last year’s 90 graduating students from 26 different countries.

The event is hosted by International Student Services and Programs, the Division of Continuing and Global Education, the Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange and International Business Programs.

For more information, call 559.278.2782.


College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) – four dean’s medalists

The CAMP celebration at noon Saturday will honor 85 students, including two students who were selected as Dean’s Medalists and two as Graduate Dean’s Medalists.

The Graduate Medalists are Yesenia Thompson of Lindsay for the College of Science and Mathematics and Rosendo Iñiguez of Hanford for the Division of Student Affairs.

The Dean’s Medalists are Renan Rocha Lopes de Lima of Tulare, originally from Brazil, for the Craig School of Business and Aide Navarro of Clovis for the Kremen School of Education and Human Development.

Also, two students will be recognized for earning their doctoral degrees in Fresno State’s educational leadership program — the first CAMP students to do so —  Adriana Cervantes-González of Tulare and Jesús González of Woodlake, who are husband and wife.

For more information, contact Ofelia Gamez, CAMP director, at 559.278.4768.

 African-American Recognition Celebration features former student president

Over 100 graduates will hear Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, a former Fresno State student body president who now teaches at UCLA, talk at the 30th annual African-American Recognition Ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Noble is an assistant professor for the Department of Information Studies in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA.

At Fresno State, she earned a BA in Sociology in 1995 and served a term as president of Associated Students Inc., in 1993-94 becoming the second African-American woman in Fresno State history to do so. She was involved in the Black/African Student Union, the Women’s Resource Center and the Black Theatre program.

Noble’s research in socio-cultural informatics explores issues such as the ethics of search engines, race, gender and sexuality in information communication technologies, and digital technology and Internet policy development. She is an author of the forthcoming book “Bamboozled: Identity for Sale in the Age of Google” and a contributing editor to “The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex and Culture Online.”

Following the keynote, Dr. T. Hasan Johnson, assistant professor for the Africana Studies Program, will preside over the Ona Eto Re, or “Rites of Passage.” In this traditional celebration of achievement, graduates will receive a certificate of recognition and will be draped with a Ghanaian Kente cloth.

The ceremony also features special student performances including graduate Melissa Harris singing the African-American national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Black Students United’s Dance Express will perform an interpretative dance to “Glory.”

The ceremony is presented by the African American Edge Initiative at Fresno State, a program designed to connect students with faculty with academic support and mentoring.

For more information, contact Dr. Francine Oputa at 559.278.6946 or


Robinson to keynote LGBTQ+ Celebration

Fresno State alumnus Jeffery Robinson, CEO of Community Link Incorporated, will keynote the LGBTQ+ Commencement Celebration Saturday.

Last year, 15 students were honored and over 300 people attended the inaugural celebration presented by the United Student Pride Club at Fresno State. Founded in 1987, the organization hosts various events across campus and the community to promote social understanding and acceptance of the LGBT+ community.

While a Fresno State student in 1989, Robinson co-coordinated a three-day LGBTQ+ College and University Conference held throughout Presidents’ Weekend. In addition to heading the local nonprofit organization Community Link, which offers a LGBTQ+ Youth Alliance, he also produces, publishes and oversees a number of other projects to serve the LGBTQ community including:

  • The Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade and Festival: a celebration intended to help bring diversity to Fresno while also celebrating culture and creativity.
  • News Link: a monthly newspaper that contains LGBT-relevant news (local and beyond) on politics, marriage, religion, youth and health; plus local columns like the Waterhouse Report.
  • It’s a Queer Thang: a radio show on KFCF 88.1 FM that features live or pre-recorded interviews with individuals and groups from the LGBT community.
  • Gray Alliance: a unique group for older lesbian and gay members of the community.
  • POW (Professional Out Women): a community of women who gather for networking and socializing.
  • Kids Like Us: a social group for LGBT+ parents and their children.
  • Bowling and volleyball leagues: established as a way of getting Fresno’s LGBT community involved in active recreation

For more information, or for graduates to RSVP, contact Cary Manning at or 559.349.2068.


Latino Commencement to include keynote by Tim Rios of Wells Fargo

The largest of Fresno State’s Commencement season events, the Latino Commencement Celebration at 6 p.m. Saturday closes out the class of 2015 graduation season.

About 900 students have applied to participate this year for the event that draws nearly 13,000 people and coordinated by Dr. Luz Gonzalez. It is sponsored this year by El Agua es Asunto de Todos, (Water Is Everybody’s Business), a statewide campaign that promotes public awareness of California’s drought and the significant impact it has on the Latino community.

Ultiminio “Tim” Rios, who graduated from Fresno State in 1993 with a degree in finance, will be honored at the event that was started as the Chicano Commencement Celebration in 1977 by the Fresno State Chicano Alumni. It is now believed to be the largest of its kind.

Rios lived in Mexico until his parents and their six children immigrated to California. His family worked in the fields and at 14, Rios found a job indoors through a summer youth employment program then later at McDonald’s. His five siblings are also college graduates.

In 2013, Rios was recognized with the Top Dog Outstanding Alumni Award from Fresno State’s Craig School of Business.

In 1997, he joined Wells Fargo and has held various positions including national spokesperson for its $7 billion Latino Businesses Services program. In his current position, Rios supports organizations assisting families with financial and educational needs.

“It is an important standard I took from Fresno State,” said Rios, who has continued his education in international studies in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and in an executive banking program through the University of Virginia. “Fresno State is the educational backbone of the Central Valley, especially for minorities and low-income students.”

He has served on numerous boards and has been recognized for his community contributions. He and his wife, Linda, have two children.

Rios will be honored for “the countless hours he has devoted to making sure that the voices of the Latino communities from across the Valley and the state of California are heard loud and clear,” said Gonzalez, who is the dean of the College of Social Sciences at Fresno State.

“Mr. Rios believes in equal access and inclusion for all. He is a role model who came from Mexico and pursued the American dream that included giving back to the community that supported him.” 

This year the event features a new sponsor, El Agua es Asunto de Todos, whose general director, Marta Rosas also will be recognized at Latino Commencement for “her unwavering commitment to raising awareness of the seriousness of California’s drought in the Latino communities,” said Gonzalez.

For more information on Latino Commencement, contact Gonzalez or Dr. Kent Karsevar, director of development, at 559.278.4381 or 559.278.3013.

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