The University of La Verne class of 2022 took to the stage inside Ortmayer Stadium on the La Verne central campus for commencement ceremonies on May 27 and 28. More than 2,400 graduates celebrated their accomplishments together during four ceremonies across two days.
Each ceremony was filled with inspirational messages to graduates and their family members by esteemed university leaders, including Chaplain Zandra Wagoner, trustees, and University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman.
This season marks the return of formal commencement ceremonies to the campus for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began two years ago.
“Embrace your resiliency and strength during times of ambiguity. And do this with grace, respect for others, compassion, and generosity,” Lieberman said. “You are leading us by example. Be your best selves!”
Deborah A. Santiago, chief executive officer and cofounder of the research organization Excelencia in Education, addressed 657 graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences. She shared a strong keynote address about the power of diversity in positions of leadership. “I was raised to believe to whom much has been given, much is expected. We must create opportunity for others as a legacy and responsibility,” Santiago said.
Randall Lewis, keynote speaker for the 989 graduates of the College of Business and Public Management, advised the class of 2022 to embrace change and hold fast to the university’s core values, which, Lewis states, will aid graduates to, “lead an ethical life, to lead a moral life, to do the right thing, and to give you the courage and confidence to lead wonderful lives.”
Lewis serves as the executive vice president of Lewis Management Corporation, a member of the Lewis Group of Companies — one of the largest planned community developers in Southern California. He is also the donor behind centers at the university such as the Randall Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Social Impact and the Randall Lewis Center for Well-Being and Research.
Speaking at the LaFetra College of Education ceremony, Pomona Unified School District Superintendent Richard Martinez encouraged the 684 graduates to “rise to the challenge” for students in need and to never stop learning. “Let us be those dream makers,” Martinez said.
Martinez helped steward a long-standing relationship with the LaFetra College of Education during his tenure at Pomona Unified, supporting initiatives such as the Family Learning Conference, dyslexia professional teacher development courses, and the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity’s National Teacher Preparation Transformation Center.
Trial attorney Ricardo Echeverria, who addressed the 77 graduates of the College of Law, shared a message about hard work and the importance of risk-taking. “There are ups and there are downs, never quit,” he said in his remarks about the legal profession. Echeverria closed his speech by reminding graduates to “do something good to help people achieve justice” and to continue practicing law in order to benefit society.
During the ceremonies, the university bestowed honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters upon Santiago, Lewis, and Martinez.
Student speakers gave heartfelt speeches to the crowd of graduates.
Isabel Manzo ’22 urged her fellow LaFetra College of Education graduates to “face your challenges head-on.” College of Business and Public Management speaker Stephen Fomba, DPA ’22, shared the importance of being a “part of the solutions that seek to transform the lives of those we serve for prosperity, freedom, and the pursuit of true happiness.” College of Arts and Sciences student speaker Casemi Childress ’22 advised the audience to “link arms with younger generations and help them navigate the same systems we have navigated.” Llambrini Duda, JD ’22, shared her personal mantra, “no matter what, I will always pull through,” and encouraged her classmates to think of their ultimate why as they enter their profession.
Each graduate received at least eight tickets for family and friends to join in the celebrations. Ceremonies included the traditional entry to “Pomp and Circumstance,” the alma mater, and the turning-of-the tassel “from your head to your heart” marking the transition from student to graduate. It was an emotional moment for many of the graduates who proudly walked across the stage in-person as their names were called.
Video recordings of the ceremonies are available at laverne.edu/commencement/livestream.