Commencement 2023 a Success for CDU Graduates
CDU held its 39th Annual Commencement Ceremony on June 3, 2023, at Los Angeles Southwest College Stadium conferring around 450 degrees and certificates upon the Mighty Lions Class of 2023. The grand celebration of achievement and academic excellence marked a significant milestone for the University as it included its first ever cohorts of graduates from the new Doctor of Nursing Practice program and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. The theme of this year’s celebration was the “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the entire staircase” quote by Martin Luther King Jr.
The ceremony began with a welcome address by CDU President and CEO, Dr. David M. Carlisle. President Carlisle commended the graduating class for their dedication and emphasized the challenges they had overcome during their academic journey, including the unprecedented disruptions caused by the global pandemic.
“Some of you took the first step in your CDU journey during the deepest hours of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Carlisle. “Uncertainties abound in every direction. Yet you were not dissuaded. You showed up. You learned. You grew, and now…you graduate.”
Dr. Carlisle lauded the graduates for their achievements and wholeheartedly professed his faith in their abilities as they forge ahead in their lives and careers.
“Now, you carry the torch of compassion and excellence that has been passed down through the decades into the communities and neighborhoods that need you the most,” he remarked. “Remember that faith will be your steadfast companion. It will embolden you to take risks, to question the status quo, and to move us as a society closer to the vision of health equity that everyone deserves.”
Dr. Diana E. Ramos, California’s second Surgeon General and first Latina Surgeon General, delivered an inspiring keynote address. She imparted invaluable insights while sharing personal reflections of her own academic journey, pointing out how her story is like many in the graduating class.
“I hope that when you look back on this day, even if you don’t remember who spoke to you from this microphone, you will remember that you are your own CEO,” said Dr. Ramos. “And I hope that you will have been a voice of change. . . that you’ve embraced every experience and shared what you’ve learned with others . . . and that you’ve taken care of yourself – putting your oxygen mask on first – so that you have the energy and strength to make a difference in the lives of others.”
College of Science and Health student speaker Esmeralda Carrillo delivered a moving speech reflecting on her transformative journey at CDU, spanning seven years from undergraduate studies to completing her MPH. She emphasized the profound significance of community and how CDU has instilled in her the understanding that communities thrive through internal faith and trust in those who uplift and assist them.
“You see, CDU has built a trusting staircase, providing the tools to each student for their success, holding us through our faith and perseverance, with will, determination, and commitment to be in service to others,” shared Carrillo. “I couldn’t be more grateful for my time at CDU for the opportunities this institution has offered me and the growth it inspired within me; an eternal thank you!”
Student speakers from the College of Medicine and the Mervyn M. Dymally College of Nursing were Angelica Johnsen and Jacquelin Charles, respectively. Ms. Johnsen commended her fellow CDU students for the qualities that make them exceptional in the eyes of medicine.
“Time and time again, it has been our students who serve as sources of strength for our patients, patients who are jaded and tired out by dysfunctional healthcare systems that were not built to serve us,” she exclaimed. “Our students, by being exactly who we are, we heal our patients bit by bit, by holding their hands and telling these patients we see them, because our patients are not just their patients, they’re brothers and sisters and neighbors and family.”
In her remarks, Ms. Charles shared an encouraging message emphasizing how faith is an essential catalyst in the relentless pursuit of personal aspirations.
“Having a desire is what often leads to our motivation and inspiration. Having a desire is what leads us to our strong intention or aim,” said Ms. Charles. “But faith and unrelenting pursuit of our goals, and dedication to excellence is what will allow us to attain the success we seek and desire.”
During the ceremony, a profound moment of recognition took place as the 2023 President’s Medals were awarded to legendary figures Dr. Wilbert C. Jordan (posthumously), Founder of the CDU Oasis Clinic and Dr. Arthur Fleming, Professor Emeritus of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. The President’s Medal is the highest honor bestowed by the President of CDU and serves as a testament to the recipients’ extraordinary and unique contributions to the institution.
The esteemed award symbolizes not only the remarkable service rendered by Dr. Jordan and Dr. Fleming but also their exceptional dedication and excellence within their respective professions.
Commencement not only marked the end of an academic chapter but also symbolized the beginning of a lifetime of possibilities and achievements.
With their hearts filled with gratitude and aspirations, the graduates departed, carrying the Mighty Lion spirit of CDU with them as they begin or continue their journeys as leaders for social justice and health equity for underserved populations.
Click here to access the digital version of the program book.