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College of Arts and Sciences Graduates 635 in Virtual Commencement

The University of La Verne College of Arts and Sciences celebrated the achievements of 635 graduates of spring 2020 and winter 2021 at its first-ever virtual commencement live-streamed on January 30.

President Devorah Lieberman told the graduates that “we must each believe in our purpose as individuals, as a university, and as a community.” In comments especially meaningful for a class completing degrees remotely in the midst of a pandemic, she noted that the university “has embraced the mantra of ‘One Community’ because you cannot quarantine community.”

Graduates heard a keynote address presented by Camila Chavez, daughter of Dolores Huerta and niece of the late Cesar Chavez, founders of the United Farm Workers of America. Chavez is co-founder and executive director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. In that capacity, she oversees leadership and community organizing training for residents in low-income communities so they can help bring about change.

“We need to celebrate our differences and achievements and learn to live, work, and play collaboratively, not competitively,” she told the graduates. Following Chavez’s comments, President Lieberman announced that the university is awarding to her mother, Dolores Huerta, the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters.

Graduate student speaker Caroline Le is one of the first 22 students to earn the university’s new Master of Science in Physician Assistant Practice degree. “Today we are facing the worst pandemic in more than a century,” she said. “But if we were able to finish our degrees through all this; virtual classrooms, hours in front of a screen, lockdowns, curfews, long days wearing masks or PPE, illnesses, and so many unforeseen hardships, then I believe we can endure and succeed at anything.”

Le noted that she and her classmates “after being on the healthcare front lines treating patients this past year reaffirmed our Physician Assistant Professional Oath, taking a pledge to serve as PAs with honesty and dedication.” She encouraged her fellow graduates in the college to “be an advocate for others when no one else will.” And, she said, “continue to be curious, creative, and innovative to break barriers and lead by example.”

Madeline Ruiz, the undergraduate student speaker, served as president of the Associated Students of the University of La Verne in 2019-20. “Though it may appear that I completed my degree in three and a half years, this degree was actually earned through generations of sacrifice,” she remarked. “It was the sacrifices of family members who came before me to give me the opportunity to be in this position today.” She noted the words of “my wise, immigrant mom: ‘Your education is one of the only things that can never be taken away from you.’”

The College of Arts and Sciences virtual commencement was one of four ceremonies held on January 30 to celebrate the 2,337 University of La Verne graduates from spring 2020 and winter 2021. The university includes the College of Business and Public Management, the LaFetra College of Education, and the College of Law in addition to the College of Arts and Sciences. The new graduates join more than 85,000 University of La Verne alumni around the world.