Sociology Graduation 2020


Dear Graduating Sociology Majors,
The Sociology faculty are disappointed that graduating seniors will not have a ceremony to attend with their friends and families. We appreciate all of your creativity, hard work, and commitment to creating better neighborhoods, communities, and societies. We wish we could be there in person to congratulate you and celebrate with you. This is an important time to commemorate and reflect on your time at East Bay and look forward to your next steps – and especially to celebrate all of your hard work and accomplishments!
The Sociology faculty decided to commemorate graduation in a way that fits our times. With the help of Dr. Cardaras in The Department of Communication, we invite you to publish in The Pioneer Online your reflections on graduating, your work to achieve this milestone, your time at East Bay, or your thanks to the people who helped you along the way. You may also wish to talk about graduating during Covid-19 times. Use your heart and your imagination to write a statement that reflects you and your experiences at East Bay. This is completely voluntary, but we hope many Sociology graduates will participate and believe it will create a lasting tribute to your accomplishments.
All the best,
The Sociology Faculty

Greetings from Dr. Carl Stempel, Chair
Greetings from Natalie Ingraham
Messages From Our Graduates
This journey was not easy, but it has been the most rewarding. I did this for me and to prove to myself that anything is possible. Covid-19 couldn’t stop me. — #latinaswithdegrees
Greetings from Hester Van Der Vinne

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Class of 2020

I have reached the finish line and I am finally a CSUEB Alumna. This semester has been a challenging journey, but worth it. I was already taking this last semester online due to starting my career as a 911 Dispatcher in December. With a high stress job and being a full-time online student, I thought the odds were against me. With the support of my professors, friends and family I was able to finish the semester strong. I want to thank my mom, Algarisce Warren, for all her love and support that she has provided during my college journey. She was nothing but supportive when I decided to change my major to Sociology, and it was the best decision I could have ever made for myself. Please Read More

Towards the end of my college journey I lost my grandfather which was difficult because I knew he wouldn’t be there physically to see me walk across the stage, which motivated me to finish stronger. Not being able to have a physical ceremony for the class of 2020 was unfortunate because as a college student that is our moment. That is our moment for us to be seen by our friends and families to be acknowledged for our accomplishments. What I do appreciate is that during this pandemic, CSUEB has made sure that we are recognized for our accomplishment in the best way they can. This journey has been long and hard, but it was an amazing experience and I wouldn’t have wanted to go through this with anyone other than my fellow Pioneers! Class of 2020 WE DID IT! — Chanisce Robinson Read Less

I am feeling overwhelmed from being the first one in my family to graduate. It feels weird to not have homework assignments anymore, my heart occasionally still drops when I think about if I forgot to turn in an assignment on time. My last two semesters before graduating, I worked two jobs and was enrolled in 20 units. I had multiple times where I felt discouraged and completely drained both physically and mentally. My family and closest friends supported me and always gave me motivation when I felt like giving up. I am so grateful to have attended CSUEB. It is a place that will always be dear to my heart. The one thing that fulfills my heart when it comes to finally being a college graduate is my grandpa. “We had my granddaughter since she was two, I wanted her to finish college and live a happy life.” Those were his last words that were dedicated to me before he passed away in 2010. Those are the words that I played in my head every single day. I did it Papa, I did for you and grandma. — Desiree D. Cervantes



At the age of 52, I had made the decision to go back to college. I am so grateful that I went with my heart and not what was in my head. My head told me that I would not belong and that I was too old. As I began my college journey, I found myself wanting some instructors to have some pity for me because I was an older student and one instructor literally restored me to sanity. He quickly let me know that older adults were primarily some of the best students and to stop with that thinking. From that point on, I was fully engaged in school and saw that anything is possible when you have the desire to make it happen. When it came time for me to transfer from Chabot College to Cal State East Bay, I experienced fear as I had grown comfortable to the Chabot College campus but my desire for more was stronger than the fear and that very same desire lead me to Cal State University Easy Bay.Please Read More

I am so grateful for have been given the opportunity to attend Cal State University East Bay. The program/classes offered allowed me to be able to work full time and go to school full time. My experience at East Bay has truly been a blessing. Professors such as Barbara Hall, Jean Lin, Kristin Hull, Victor Montes and Susan Ingram were very instrumental, encouraging and truly gave me the desire to get to the finish line.
This last semester has been the most challenging semester for myself and I am certain for others. The COVID19 pandemic brought on several different emotions for me. I had feelings of depression, sadness, loneliness, abandonment and fear. I was so used to physically being in class and interacting with my classmates and I thought the semester was going to be scrapped and graduation would not happen. Thank God for the faculty at East Bay who quickly moved us over to Zoom class meetings which allowed us to complete classes required to graduate.
The year 2020 was supposed to be a Trifecta for me. I turned 60 in May, graduation in May and my 30-year anniversary later this year. COVID shows up and ruins all my party plans. As I watch CNN daily, I began to be grateful just to be alive. I began to pray for those on the front line and the many families that lost a loved one to this horrible virus. I prayed for our instructors, thanking God for all the hard work they put into us students and for not giving up on us.
I live my life today in gratitude and would like to thank California State University East Bay for blessing me with the opportunity to succeed.
— Desiree Garrick-Jackson
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Special shoutout to Dr. Lin for ALL of her support during my senior year at CSUEB. I truly appreciate her help with my classes, job searching, and advice for grad school. Research methods and capstone have been the hardest classes I’ve taken, and I probably wouldn’t have done as great without her support. We did it! — Daisy J. Orozco


When I continued my educational journey in the fall of 2017, I was unsure of what to expect. I have always pictured myself furthering my education and I knew one day, I would be rewarded with the chance to walk across the stage and receive a Degree in Sociology. When enrolling in Dr. Duke Austin’s class, Race & Ethnicity, I glanced at the syllabus and felt overwhelmed. I thought to myself, this is unreal. Dr. Austin’s syllabus was long and the assignments were very precise and detailed and had no idea if I would be able to continue with the class. The idea of going to school, working full time and being a mother of three boys was already a challenge, I was not sure if I could handle the workload. Not to mention, I also had to work through being in and out the hospital the whole semester with my youngest son due to his severe medical condition. Please Read More

Remembering my goal, I continued with the course. After the first week of attending Dr. Austin’s class, I noticed some of my fellow classmates had withdrew from the course. I started to feel nervous but, I remembered my purpose and was motivated to continue with the course and accept the challenge. The Race & Ethnicity course has impacted my outlook on life and my environment. I would like to take the time to appreciate and thank Dr. Austin for enlightening my thinking and outlook on life. Not only did I enjoy the course but also, it was one my favorite courses taken at Cal State Eastbay.
Best Regards,
— La’Trece Pride-Hancock
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My time at East Bay has been a positive experience with some long and tiresome nights however it was all worth it for this. Although this is not the ending that I had hoped for, I am excited for the new beginnings that lie ahead. COVID-19 has stopped a lot of things however, my desire and determination to keep going is not one. I am extremely proud of myself and this major accomplishment that I have achieved. Please Read More

This would not have been possible without the motivation of my son, Tyrese. He has been the reason that I have wanted to be better and do better with my life. For that I would like to THANK HIM for being the amazing kid that he is.
I would also like to take this time to thank my dad, Lovelle, while he is no longer here in body, his spirit has continued to guide me. I know that I would not be who I am today without such a strong, loving and positive man in my life. I miss you Dad!!
MOM, SIS, NIECES you all are amazing in every way and I thank you for your unconditional love and support.
Thank you to Alfreda for all the nights watching my son and making sure he was kept and loved especially during my night classes! Ty could not have a better grandmother!
Thank You to all those that have supported me in EVERY WAY possible, rather it was advice, babysitting, laughs or keeping me sane; I LOVE ALL OF YOU!!
Modesty M Johnson
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My name is Vân Nguyen. I am a member of the Class of 2020 and I am proud to say that that I will be graduating with the distinction of Summa Cum Laude. I’d like to thank my family for supporting me in this journey. My mother and cousin who is a member of the class of 2015 helped me when I faced troubles in my academic work. I also want to thank Dr. Duke for taking the time to help me with my resume and for his class which sparked the desire in me to start working with kids. And to those people mentioned above, I am very grateful. Please Read More

In the beginning, I started with accounting as my major then I switched to sociology as my strength was in the humanities. My expected graduation was 2019 but due to a few missing requirements, I ended up having to graduate this year. I thought 2020 was a beautiful year because the number seemed to be special. Unfortunately, things did not turn out like I and my fellow graduating members expected. It is unfortunate that we do not have an awards convocation ceremony and we do not know when the graduation ceremony will take place, but I feel worse for the high school seniors who will miss out on experiencing senior prom along with graduation. I am just waiting to celebrate graduation and live a temporary stop in my journey while the high seniors must miss out on one special memory you only make once in your life along with a delayed graduation. I chose to go to Cal State University East Bay because my cousin was an alumni and would be able to help me navigate its world with me. Not many people from my high school decided to go to CSU Eastbay but, one of the things I love about Eastbay is that it allows you to establish connections in your first year. I took a test and was put in the same circles as some fellow freshmen. Seeing familiar faces made me feel more comfortable as I took classes in my first year. At some point, I was not completely on top of my classes and was not able to keep my 4.0 g.p.a anymore. My grade point average was still decent, but I did not get all A’s anymore. My A’s also had some B’s or some C’s. It seemed that every year there would be that one class I struggled with a lot or I made some mistakes like procrastinating. I still made some mistakes as I was nearing the completion of my college years, but I managed to pass with all A’s in my final terms at CSUEB and I am glad that all my hard work to maintain a better g.p.a. finally paid off. In the end, I made myself and my family proud. Now that I am preparing to graduate, I encountered this question about my future. What’s next? Now, I’m currently working as an EBAYC mentor at Lincoln Elementary and even though CO-VID19 prevents me from working with the kids in person, I and my fellow coworkers are doing what we can to help them with their education. Whether it’s connecting to their teachers on how to help with their educational difficulties or listening to them read over the phone. But my passion has always been drawing. I have two paths before me. I can become an elementary teacher or graphic artist. As I continue to live, I may find a path completely different or choose. My new journey is only beginning. — Van Nguyen Read Less

My path was not always easy. It took me quite some time to get where I am today. Looking back to when I graduated High School, I had no plans. I was not prepared for what was to come next in my life because there was no guidance. All I thought was to graduate High School and find work. How could I possibly think of going to college if I couldn’t handle HS. No one that I knew had graduated from college, so it wasn’t something I was thinking at that time. I worked for some time at a medical office and took a Medical Assistant Certification program, but soon after realized it wasn’t for me. I worked in the medical field for about two years after graduating but wanted more. Please Read More

My little sister was one of the reasons I chose to go back to school “for real” this time. She was accepted into UC Davis and I was so proud of her. I wanted nothing but the best for my little sister but why not myself. Seeing how proud my parents were to have at least one of their daughters further their education made me want that. My dad was not able to get an education and had to stop going to school in middle school to help support his family in Mexico. My mom was not able to go to school because she was a single mother for some time and had to work. Education is important to my parents because they were never given the opportunity, so why wouldn’t I take that chance for myself. I decided to enroll into LMC in 2015 and fell in love with learning.
I wouldn’t have been able to be so successful if it wasn’t for my supportive fiancé and parents. They have been my biggest supporters throughout this journey. It has been extremely stressful and there were days that I wasn’t the “nicest” person, but they were always there. I did not realize how important it was to have people in my life who actually cared and understood why I was always missing out on things. I missed birthday parties, family gatherings, and various important events due to doing my school work. Although I can never get the time back that I missed I can now be there.
Growing up I never had a plan for myself, I never wanted to do or be anything. I had learning difficulties and school was very hard for me. I never thought I was smart enough or gave myself the opportunity to try. I didn’t want to fail, and I let myself believe that with a learning disability college would be for me. But I was completely wrong, there is so much opportunity and support out there. I was able to get my associates degree at LMC with honors and transfer to CSEUB.
I am someone who was told for so long that I would not succeed academically or that school was not for someone like me. Not only am I graduating with a degree but with high honors 3.84 gpa (MAGNA CUM LAUDE).
I’m not sure what is next in my life, but this is not the end it is only the beginning.
— Shiley Perez (Class of 2020)
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Everyone’s lives including myself, has been constantly dictated by societal standards and continues to develop throughout generations. My interest in sociology was greatly influenced when I moved to California for my undergraduate. I realized how different my upbringing was in Hawaii compared to the outside world. It made me think, why are we the way we are and what influenced it? As I took intro to sociology, it created a sense of curiosity to learn more about sociological influences and its different aspects that affect our daily lives. Moreso, I wanted to understand and evaluate our daily lives through sociological perspective.Please Read More

Throughout my undergraduate experience, I took a variety of sociological classes which include Sociological Theory, Sociology of Gender, Childhood and Society, and Race and Ethnicity. All of these different aspects of sociology has given me a bigger insight as to our role in society. It was more of an eye opener because now it changes my perspective when I interact with others who I either know or don’t know. By understanding social construct and our placement in society, people such as myself, can understand how unequal society is. When you look at the race for example, race as a social construct is a pre-eminently sociohistorical concept. It created racial categories and the meaning of race that was given as a concrete expression by the specific social relations and historical context in which they are embedded. From the time of existence, it was embedded in our brains that race is real and there is no such thing as no race.
This is false and until others understand this concept, we will still live in a colorblind nation.
I am currently a student athlete at East Bay and my experience here has greatly changed my life. The school itself is nothing but supportive of their athletes. Most importantly, being a sociology student helps me apply what I have learned from my classes into the environment I am in. Being an Asian American, I considered my race as no race. When I file documents that require me to write down my race and ethnicity, I select “other”. This is because we are all 99.9 percent biologically the same. There is no different race. We are all subjectively humans. The misconception that people take in pursuit to say that “race” is real, is our culture. We all have different cultures around the world and different backgrounds, but it doesn’t mean we are all not the same. We’re just socially different. By learning about this in my race and ethnicity class has given me a sense of reality. That individuals in our world are going to be discriminated against based on their race or that there is going to be a gap in hierarchy in society. That’s just the reality of things and it gave me perspective of the struggles that these individuals face.
By enrolling myself in the sociology program here at East Bay, it gave me valuable knowledge in wanting me to expand what I have learned. For instance, what type of profession I want to do or what I want to specialize in. We as sociologists can understand how society works and how we can make a significant difference in this world. As I graduate from East Bay, I will head on to pursue my master’s degree in Social Work. Having sociology as a background is very valuable in terms of my understanding of how society works and how I can use this in the real world by helping others.
— Kelee A. Shimizu
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“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”Theadore Roosevelt
I have always grown to value education, but unfortunately did not have the same opportunity as some to pursue it. We all come from different backgrounds, and not everyone has the same opportunity growing up. My major declared became Sociology because I was very interested in the way society functions, and why we do the things we do, and how we have come to being where we are. Moreover, I have decided to pursue my studies in Social Work to become a social worker with an emphasis on helping struggling families who need a helping hand with limited opportunities which I can relate to. Please Read More

I come from a single hard-working parent growing up with struggles and appreciate the love, care, and sacrifices that she has made for me. Life’s experiences have shaped me to who I am today through hardships and disadvantages, but have always been taught to never give up and continue what I started no matter how long it takes.
I was blessed to have the opportunity to enroll in Cal State University East Bay by meeting and being taught by some of the most talented and loving instructors.
Even if it was tough love, I learned to appreciate it because I have never been taught to receive handouts or get the easy way out. Each have taught me a different lesson as I have grown in this institution through becoming a better writer, having the best of conversations, critical thinking, and applying myself based on what I have learned. After all the hard work, determination, and patience, I am now proud to say that I am part of the graduating class of 2020!
Special thanks to: My Mother Shaima Yusufzai and my Professors Dr. Carl Stempel, Dr. Julie Beck, Marya Wright, Dr. Hester Van Der Vinne, Dr. Sukari Ivester, and Dr. Donovon Ceaser.
— Wahid Yusufzai
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For me, graduating is one of my biggest accomplishment but did not imagine could happen. By working two jobs and going to school was a lot for me, making sacrifices and having the support from my family and friends help make it all possible. Even though Covid-19 put a dent to the plans walking the stage, it still did not stop me from completing my journey. From going to school in the evening, I did not really get to participate in a lot of school activities because I was always working or doing Please Read More

homework but at the end got to meet great people and had great professor especially Professor Puri who taught me a lot and challenge my thinking to limits I did know I had but I am grateful. I want to thank my parents for their constant support especially my mother for her encouraging words, push and acknowledgement of all my hard work I would not have made it with out them. Want to thank my friends for their support and patience while I worked for my degree. I want to thank my little brother, who taught me patience and hard work. He has special needs and I helped take care of him and at times made it hard to finish school because of situation with his schools and I dropped everything to deal with it, I do not regret anything but thank him because in his way he saw how hard I worked, spending time with him and my niece and nephew because I had homework or work to do but at the end was all work it because they are proud of me. — Maria Gabriela Read Less

Hello, my name is Bethbirei Johnson I majored in sociology and I am an African American 1st generation graduate in a family of ten siblings. I am a mother to three amazing beautiful girls in which I am so proud of. This road has not been easy losing my mother, two brothers, and a sister. However, I knew I had to keep going regardless of my circumstances. I am a particular age but it has not determined my success in getting my education. The older I get the more determined I get and great wisdom has derived from my triumphs. To add, CSU East Bay staff and faculty had played a Please Read More

tremendous role in my education. Teachers like Susan Ingram, Dr. Zanean McClain, Dr. Sneha Dutta, and Brian Johnson have made learning fun and the comfort they showed me after losing several family members has been phenomenal. Cal State East Bay has been good to me and I am proud to announce my eldest daughter will be attending in the fall 2020 semesters. I am also excited to say that I have been accepted in the Masters of Social Work program starting fall 2020 and I also qualified for the Title 4 E stipend program. The master’s program is going to help me pursue my goal of bridging the gap with many families and also provide a job so that I can support myself, family, and future generations. I am so blessed to have been a part of a diverse society that has helped me get to the next level to my dreams. Through desire, perseverance, patience, and adaptability anything is possible and it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish! Thank you CSU East Bay for helping me pursue my dreams!!!! — Bethbirei Johnson Read Less

My name is Yesenia Ortega-Valencia, my major is sociology and my minor is psychology. I feel very content to be graduating this summer. I have put in a lot of effort these four years that I have been in this college/university. There are some people who I am extremely grateful for who have encouraged or inspired me to continue my education throughout these years here in Cal State East Bay. Those people are my mother, other close loved ones, and my sociology professor Lin as well as my academic advisor, Diane Peterson. Being in EOP has also helped me greatly to stay on track and keep pushing forward. — Yesenia Ortega-Valencia


Time Flies

“I know life rough when nobody really knows what ya been through
Just hold on firm, when nobodies there, ya always got to
And I know you’ve heard this all before [?] Me tell you now
What I know now, back in the day I really wish I do”
When I graduated from high-school in 2009, I had no knowledge of what to expect from life. I was only guided by my school to the finish line of high-school, but no preparation of life outsidePlease Read More

of school. I messed around out in the world getting into trouble and waking up at 22 years old and realizing that I don’t want to continue to do what I was doing anymore. I started at a trade school for pharmacy technician and realized that wasn’t my flow, so I started working for a catering company, doing various side jobs, and founding myself working for a home remodeling company. At the home remodeling company I did everything from demolition, bathroom, kitchen, painting, cabinets, tiling and flooring. When I was remodeling a home with travertine tiling working with my back bent to the ground eight hours a day, six days a week. Eating only a banana and a cup of coffee, it was then I realized it was time to go back to school. I quit in 2015 and made my start at Diablo Valley College in 2015 at age 24.
“It doesn’t matter when you start, it’s about how you finish.”
My journey at East Bay begin in Fall of 2018 and before the semester started I had a heavy heart, my auntie passed away in May and a month into the semester, I lost my uncle and cousin in September followed by losing my biological father in November. I was left with the choice to finish my first semester during finals week or go back to the Philippines and see family I haven’t seen since I was a toddler. I made the difficult decision to finish my first semester which only motivated me more to finish out my Bachelors within the two years. Along my East Bay journey I was able to meet five people from my classes in Ms. Susan Ingram and Mr. Thomas Long at the East Bay Concord campus that I still connect with today. I forever will be grateful for them and I wish them nothing but the best.
As May of 2020, we are here faced with a step into the world marred by controversy of a virus we can’t see, only feel when the sickness gets us. I finished high-school in 2009, faced with reality that there were no prospects of job opportunities because of the housing crisis and fast forward to 2020 we are faced with a situation of high unemployment and death. My feeling about graduating is bittersweet, leaving me feeling like I still have an assignment due. I’m happy to reach the finish line of my bachelor’s degree, but something tells me I’ll return to further my education in the future. It is not the end, but it is to be continued…
“Life short and time flies
Just hold on, enjoy the ride
One minute you’re sneaking out your mums, have fi go a party
The next minute, singing lullabies
Like [?] Long days and fast nights
Wrong turns and stop lights
Life is a journey
Remember me tell you you’re blessed, you’re alive
You only get one life” — Andrew Jaquias
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