Ready to launch their college careers at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), hundreds of new Toros here onhand to receive frank advice and words of encouragement from campus leaders along with Facebook executive and CSUDH alumna Bree Nguyen during Freshman Convocation on Aug. 26.
After the Freshman Class of 2016 took their seats in the StubHub Center Tennis Stadium, the familiar sound of Pomp and Circumstances began to play in the arena as President Willie J. Hagan, vice presidents and college deans marched to the stage in full academic regalia, creating the look, feel, and atmosphere of what will be their commencement day in four years.
…You are going to meet people who will become your friends for life. But most of all, what you are going to do here is learn.”
The hour-long program included speeches from President Hagan, Vice President for Student Affairs William Franklin, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Rod Hay, Associated Students Inc. President Jordan Sylvestre, and Nguyen stressing the importance of seeking guidance in college, and finding ways to immerse themselves in the campus community and culture. Their messages were reinforced with video clips of faculty, staff and fellow students offering Toro Tips for Success.
“You are about to embark on a journey where you will grow personally, professionally, and academically by starting strong so you can finish even stronger for whatever you choose to do after you earn your degree,” said Franklin. “We have countless ways for you to develop, grow, and sharpen your skills as you move through your years here at CSU Dominguez Hills.”
Nguyen (’12, B.A., business administration/finance) is Facebook’s head of Talent Partnerships in Entertainment, where she focuses on creating “great experiences” for users of the social media platform by connecting them with actors, actresses, and other public figures on Facebook and Instagram. She shared with the freshmen the setbacks that prolonged her college career before she gained the focus and commitment to transfer and earn her degree at CSUDH.
“Have you ever felt that you had no other options? In those moments, it’s very simple what to do. You ask for help. Now, I work at Facebook where data is key, and there is actually data that says we are least likely to ask for help from people who are in fact the most likely to help us,” said Nguyen. “It took me five full years to learn that lesson. … I took the long road to the seat that you are sitting in now. Then, all of a sudden, I had more possibilities than ever.”
Hagan shared what it takes to be successful at Cal State Dominguez Hills, such as hard work and persistence, reminding the freshmen that, “You do not get your degree here at Cal State Dominguez Hills, you come here to “EARN” your degree.”
“You have to commit to the hard work that it is going to take to get to your degree; to be challenged by our faculty and staff to think deeper and work harder than you have ever worked before,” said Hagan. “You can engage in scientific research; you may create original art; you will debate and discuss business, politics, and literary giants. …You are going to meet people who will become your friends for life. But most of all, what you are going to do here is learn.”
Rafael Trella, a business marketing major who graduated from Torrance High School, applied to CSUDH due to its proximity to home so he could stay close to family and save up for graduate school.
“This convocation is a great idea. It’s good for freshmen to get to learn what’s happening on campus, and hear how to go about getting it [a degree] done,” said Trella. “And it’s the perfect opportunity to meet other students and get motivated. That’s what we need as much as anything else right now—motivation.”
Immediately following convocation, the freshmen made their way to an Academic Showcase and Resource Fair located just outside of the tennis stadium entrance. The new Toros were treated to music and a catered lunch, and the opportunity to meet with and connect to university faculty and academic resources that will support their success on campus.