Pride and joy: Students and families share excitement on Storify

Photo album from 2017 Winter Commencement

Video: View all four ceremonies

Pomp, circumstance, and a bit of nostalgia filled Golden 1 Center this past weekend as Sacramento State honored nearly 4,000 graduates and bid farewell to Winter Commencement.

The ceremonies were held Friday, Dec. 15, and Saturday, Dec. 16 – the final December ceremonies before the University moves to a single annual Spring Commencement.    

President Robert S. Nelsen continued his tradition of shaking hands with each grad as he acknowledged their years of hard work and dedication. Nelsen also acknowledged friends and family members of the graduates for their support and sacrifice, and thanked Sacramento State faculty for their dedication to students.

“We are a united and inclusive Hornet family, and the degrees you will receive today are the completion of your, your family’s, and your partner’s dreams,” Nelsen said as he addressed graduates and guests. 

nelsen with gradsPresident Robert S. Nelsen shares a "Stingers Up!" with graduates at the 2017 Winter Commencement. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone) More photos

For some students, graduation marks the beginning of independence with a first job in their field.

For others like Mike Molino, it presents the opportunity for a second act and fulfillment of a lifelong calling. Molino, a 24-year Navy veteran whose stutter has presented significant challenges, is completing a master’s degree in speech pathology.

“Like many of you, after high school I attended a JC. It wasn’t because I didn’t have the grades or the desire for a four-year. It was because I was afraid of a foreign language because of my stuttering,” Molino shared during his Commencement speech.

“Once I started to accept my stuttering for what it was, I began to figure out that my stuttering would not go away. Part of my undergrad studies was eight weeks of Fluency Disorders. This was the point of the program when I realized we needed more stuttering awareness. I approached my professors about organizing a presentation as part of their class from our Sacramento chapter of the National Stuttering Association. This has now been going on for five years.”

The dedication, passion and empathy Molino expects to demonstrate as a speech pathologist are among the reasons for his selection as student speaker for the College of Health and Human Services. 

“Michael spent numerous years receiving speech services as a child due to his stuttering,” says Fred Baldini, dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “We are extremely proud that his speech journey has come full-circle as he now feels he has the opportunity to give back to two communities near and dear to his heart- veterans and those dealing with stuttering.”

Molino is currently finishing his medical internship with the Sacramento Veterans Affairs Medical Center where he hopes to continue working in the future.

Additional student speakers included Elizabeth Gomez, College of Arts and Letters; Sarah Gabriella Ruiz, College of Education; Amy Saldana, College of Business Administration; Dylan Cracraft, College of Engineering and Computer Science; Asha Johnson, College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, and Mary Ann Mort, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

“Now the time has come for us to put all that we have learned into practice in the real world,” said Johnson, a psychology major who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. “Not only what we’ve learned pertaining to our field, but also the cognizance we’ve acquired from being immersed in such an inclusive and encouraging environment. Sac State has prepared us to be alert, be aware and most of all to be kind and respectful of new situations and lifestyles that may be different from our own.”

“We are the future and with that mentality, we will change the world. This is the first step everybody. We can do anything.”

At the end of each ceremony, Nelsen engaged graduates in a final teaching moment.

“One last tradition,” he said of moving the tassel from the right to the left of the graduation cap. “Why do we move the tassel to the left side? Because that is where your heart is and when you move the tassel, you are putting Sacramento State into your heart forever.” - Anita Fitzhugh


Friday, Dec. 15

11:30 a.m.: College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, 821 graduates | Alumni photo album

5 p.m.: College of Business Administration, 534 graduates; and College of Engineering and Computer Science, 446 graduates | Alumni photo album

Saturday, Dec. 16

8 a.m.: College of Health and Human Services, 855 graduates; and College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, 234 graduates | Alumni photo album

1:30 p.m.: College of Arts and Letters, 606 graduates; and College of Education, 285 graduates | Alumni photo album

All graduate totals as of Dec. 4

In the media: 

"Sac State Commencement speaker reflects on the road to his speech," Capital Public Radio

"Sac State holds its final Winter Commencement," ABC 10