College of the Redwoods


Humboldt State University

College Matters | Congratulations to classes of 2021 and 2020!

This article was originally posted in the College Matters column of the Times-Standard.

Friday, May 14, 2021 - 2:00am

This weekend, May 14 and 15, we will celebrate the Humboldt State University Classes of 2021 and 2020 in an event that will kick off graduation season in Humboldt County. Say it loud and often: Congratulations, graduates!

Commencement is always the highlight of an academic year. It represents all that we strive for as a campus. That is what we try to do — to graduate students. And this year, it is even more special, as we once again gather in person for the event. We are also able to invite back graduates from 2020 who were not able to enjoy an in-person graduation last year.

In all, there are 2,100 HSU graduates from 2020 and 2,600 HSU graduates from 2021. More than 1,100 of them are signed up to participate in this weekend’s ceremonies.

Our graduates deserve this. All of us at Humboldt State were determined to do everything possible to give them their time in the spotlight. We adjusted every time the state guidelines evolved. We planned aggressively for new guidelines, even if there were just rumors of changes. Our faculty and staff went above and beyond, just as our graduates believed they would.

So this weekend, the Redwood Bowl will have graduates, families, and friends — though not nearly as many as usual. There are more ceremonies with fewer graduates. Graduates were limited to inviting just two guests, with some minor exceptions for health and safety. All will be appropriately distanced, masked, and all the other things that are expected in order to hold the event. We will simply have to make more noise, bring more energy, and project more enthusiasm.

We are honored that this year’s commencement will include a ceremony for honorary degree recipient Dr. Walter James Lara Sr., a respected spiritual leader and wisdom keeper of the Yurok Tribal people. He has a longstanding relationship with Humboldt State University and our students that has included sharing his knowledge on Yurok tradition through publications, workshops, and participation in events.

We are also honored to be hosting, for the first time, a group of HSU Golden Graduates. These are Humboldt alumni who graduated 50 years ago or more, and we are now inviting them all to participate in our commencement ceremonies whenever they are able. They will be proudly seated up front, identifiable by their bright golden gowns.

We asked the Golden Graduates participating in this year’s Commencement to share some words of advice to the Classes of 2020 and 2021. Below are some examples.

“You have received an excellent education at HSU; let it empower you to boldly move forward in your career and life to achieve great outcomes. Along your journey keep connected to Forever Humboldt (the association of alumni and friends), enjoy life and have fun.”

— Jack McGurk (‘66, Biology)

“I strongly urge you to dream big and follow that dream, but please also do a much better job protecting the planet than we did.”

— Daniel (Donna) Hauser (‘65, History)

“You have made wise decisions in getting to this point in life and graduating today will continue to help you in your life.”

— Elizabeth Camp (‘69, Home Economics)

“When speaking to a group, about any important topic, remember, the sincerity of a true heart will always communicate your truth.”

—David Crane (‘64, Political Science)

“When navigating relationships, the north star of kindness guides us to pleasant shores.”

— Max Fletcher (‘65, General Education)

“Today each of you is the recipient of a fine education. Going forward please consider those extra degrees, credentials, and certificates in your chosen field of endeavor. They will broaden your future both professionally and personally. Remember, your education can never be taken from you!”

— Peggy McGurk (‘67, Speech Communication)

“Integrity is the key to success, always be honest. You are intelligent and capable of having many different and diverse jobs or businesses, only work doing employment you enjoy. Choose life partners with the same aspirations and goals that you have. Always pay your bills and keep an excellent credit score, never abuse credit. Schedule fun in your weekly schedule. Get negative and mean people out of your life. Show your appreciation to those who help you climb the ladder of success. Treat your fellow workers with respect. Never count your chickens before they hatch. Keep a positive attitude. Stay current with world events and evolving ideas regarding your chosen work. Education should not end with graduation, be a lifelong student of all your interests. Travel to other states and countries and learn from them. Know all the issues and always vote. Keep up with the latest technology, if you are standing still many others will be getting way ahead.”

— Janice Beach (‘64 and ‘72, Education)

Congratulations, graduates!

Be well.

Dr. Tom Jackson Jr. is the President of Humboldt State University.