California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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Graduates Optimistic for the Future

CSUEB graduates were excited at Graduation ceremony as they line up to greet family and friends.

As the 2010-2011 school year concluded, a new group of students can claim themselves as CSUEB alumni, and along with them a new workforce emerges in California, with lingering thoughts of what the future brings and where their paths will lead them.

As graduates leave the security of their schools, the constant reminder of how the economy has affected recent graduates seems to be an ever daunting fear in the back of their minds.

With an unemployment rate of 11.7 percent for California as of May 2011, according to the state’s department of labor, many graduates say they feel uncertain of their futures, as media images and news seem to constantly enforce intimidating prospects of finding a job.

“It’s like they’re telling us we don’t stand a chance,” said 2011 graduate Malin Chau. “Every day, we hear that college students are entering an extremely difficult economy, so graduation seems really exciting and scary at the same time because we really don’t know what to expect.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for college graduates under 25 has averaged about 9.2 percent over the past year, which is up from just 8.8 percent a year earlier and 5.8 percent in 2007, the first year of the recession.

“Everyday we’re reminded of how hard it is to find a job, and it’s definitely discouraging,” said 22-year-old 2011 graduate Christian Huerta. “It’s almost as if we’re trained to believe that graduation doesn’t mean anything anymore.”

With a degree in criminal justice, Huerta hopes to find a job in law enforcement or social services, saying he knows finding a job won’t be an immediate occasion but rather something which will take time.

Yet students become fixated on the idea of immediate success because sensationalized news coverage leads students to believe that a year upon graduation without finding a job is almost like failure, he says.

“Students need to realize that it’s more than normal to not find a job soon after graduation, that’s how it’s always been, regardless of how the economy is,” said Huerta. “Rather, use that time to enhance your skills, get involved in organizations and continue your education however you can. A job will come, and students need to really realize that.”

For Chau, a liberal arts graduate of CSUEB’s graduating of 2011, the transition from graduation to the work force should not be one marked by fear, rather it should be an exciting journey that her years at CSUEB has prepared her for, she says.

“If I let those numbers get to me, then I could easily allow that to determine my chances, but I’d rather stay positive and do all I can to be successful on my own terms,” she said. “College gives you the tools to facilitate success, and graduates should see it that way instead of allowing the media to scare them.”

23-year-old Chau now works at a pre-school in Union City, and says that news of teacher’s layoffs and cuts to education were always a frightening thought. She worried she would not find a job upon graduation, but made it a goal to not be discouraged.

“It will happen,” she said. “Students need to remain positive and learn to remain resilient in their search for their dream careers. You get what you put in, and students need to remember that now more than ever.”

Along with Chau and Huerta, Cal State East Bay celebrated the graduation of more than 5,200 students with a full weekend of commencement ceremonies June 10 through 12.

Friends and family members braved the cold weather to see their loved ones receive diplomas that acknowledged them as educated and valuable members to their communities.

Guest speakers Kim Polese, Bernard Osher and Alex Mehran reminded students of how their journey at CSUEB will enable them to enter the workforce equipped with the knowledge they needed to thrive, but it was up to them to create their opportunities through their determination and resilience to succeed.

“I am so proud of my son,” said Jose Huerta. “You can see the look of pride and happiness on everyone’s faces here today because they know their children and loved ones have progressed into the next phases of their lives.”

For Jose Huerta, a native of Mexico, seeing his son become the first-generation in his family to graduate is a joy unparalleled to anything else in his life, saying he knows that his next journey will be difficult but that good things will come if he works with passion and determination.

“Graduation is a wonderful thing, and if anything graduates should see this next phase as an exciting one, rather than fixating on negative numbers on TV,” he said. “Take life into your hands and enjoy it! Be proud of what you have accomplished and make the world your own.”

CSUEB’s 5,000 students now embark upon the work-force amongst the highest rate of college graduates that the United States has ever seen.

Although many are questioning whether a college degree is even worth the high costs, students such as Chau and Huerta offer optimism to alarming economic trends.

“College is worth the hassle,” said Huerta. “It’s worth every penny and every minute lost from sleep. That job is on the horizon, you’ll get there and when you do you’ll realize it was worth the wait.”

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Graduates Optimistic for the Future