Pride and joy: Students and families share excitement on Storify

Photo album from 2017 Winter Commencement

Video: View all four ceremonies

Preview story: Friends and family will cheer on nearly 3,800 eligible graduates in what will be Sacramento State’s final Winter Commencement on Friday, Dec. 15, and Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento.

University President Robert S. Nelsen will continue his tradition of shaking hands with each newly minted grad as he acknowledges their years of hard work and dedication and wishes them well on their next chapter of life.    

For some students, graduation marks the beginning of independence as they move into a first job in their field.

For others, such as Mike Molina, 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.

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

“Once I started to accept my stuttering for what it was, I began to figure out that my stuttering would not go away,” says Molino. “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 he was the selected 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 finishing his medical internship with the Sacramento Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where he hopes to continue working.

“I now know that wishing ‘it’ to go away would change the person I am, and I like who I am today," Molino says. "Now I have a plan to help people like myself be successful in whatever they want to do.”

Additional student speakers include 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.

Mort is a second-generation Sac State graduate and physics major who is following in her father’s footsteps. She credits attaining her degree for helping her develop out-of-the-box thinking and problem-solving skills.

“Sac State was the perfect school for me,” says Mort, who is applying for local engineering or consulting positions before continuing her education. “The small classes allowed me to build relationships with my professors, who asked me to do summer research with them. Without the relationships I’ve built with the Sac State community I wouldn’t have spent my summer in Washington, D.C., for a prestigious physics internship.”

Participating graduates may claim up to 12 complimentary tickets required for guests attending the ceremonies. Tickets are available to claim on the commencement website. Students may give unused tickets to peers participating in the same ceremony, but no tickets may be sold or traded for monetary value. Graduates do not need tickets for themselves, nor do children under the age of 3 who will sit on a guardian’s lap.

Out of respect for all graduates, Commencement organizers request that guests stay for the duration of their graduate’s ceremony. For those unable to attend the ceremonies, a live-stream feed with remote and replay-viewing capabilities will be available on the commencement website.

 For all Commencement information, including tickets, parking, accessibility and tips, visit, contact the Commencement office at or call (916) 278-4724. - Anita Fitzhugh


(Graduates and guests should arrive an hour early)

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