Each year, CalSouthern’s commencement ceremony marks the high point on the university’s academic calendar. The celebration continues to expand in scope. The recipients of CalSouthern’s three most prestigious awards—the CalSouthern Difference Award, the President’s Award for Doctoral Project Excellence and the Faculty Mentor of the Year Award—are announced. More and more alumni return to network with one another and to reconnect with their former faculty mentors and academic support staff. Increasingly noteworthy speakers attract members of the media and the public at large.
But, of course, the stars of the show are CalSouthern’s graduates. This year’s contingent of graduates (and their guests) swelled to approximately 600 people. The graduates represented states from coast to coast, as well as Alaska and Hawaii. They came from Switzerland, Canada, Poland, Russia and Nigeria. Interestingly, members of CalSouthern’s Class of 2015 ranged in age from 24 to 80, and they earned degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, in psychology, business, law and criminal justice.
Unfortunately, there isn’t space in this article to introduce you to all of our graduates, but just to give you a feel for the remarkable, inspirational and diverse individuals who comprise the CalSouthern family, we thought we would present a small sampling. Meet 10 members of the California Southern University Class of 2015.
Gary Woods MA Gary, a Marine Corps Captain during the Vietnam War, was motivated to pursue his master’s degree so that he could provide returning veterans with the psychological support that was unavailable to him and other Vietnam-era service members upon their return from war. He provides psychotherapy and psychoeducation to homeless veterans and also designs and teaches curriculum to incarcerated veterans in an effort to reduce recidivism.
David Tuyo DBA David—who delivered stirring remarks as this year’s student speaker—is a veteran of the financial services industry, currently the executive vice president and chief financial officer of a thriving community financial institution in Southeast Florida. He hopes to rise to a CEO position in the future. An All-American, Academic All-American and National Champion golfer in college—graduating with honors—his long-term goal is to teach at the university level and coach golf.
Judy Hails MA Judy recently left a long career in criminal justice. As a woman in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in the 1960s, she blazed trails for others to follow. She also enjoyed a long career as a criminal justice professor at California State University, Long Beach. Judy initially undertook her master’s program as merely an intellectual exercise, but was so inspired by her coursework that she now intends to embark upon yet another career as a marriage and family therapist.
Nicky Rossow MSL From an early age, Nicky, who was raised in Southern California, always sensed that she was destined to become a woman of the world. Today, her destiny is fulfilled. Based in Germany, Nicky is employed by a Dutch multinational company, with her work taking her to virtually all continents.
Nancy R.F. Miller PsyD Nancy was named the winner of the 2015 President’s Award for Doctoral Project Excellence. Her research was based on field work that she did as a mental health responder after the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Specifically, she examined how a careful transition from disaster response can lead to the implementation of long-term, sustainable mental healthcare systems in low income countries. She plans to apply her research to additional field work in future humanitarian crises.
Taravat Ostovar PsyD Taravot has a deep-rooted passion for education and for serving humanity—and it’s not difficult to discern where this passion comes from. Taravot was born in Iran, where her family was deprived of basic human rights because of their faith. Higher education was out of the question. Now living in Canada, she works as a clinical psychologist while providing training opportunities for aspiring clinicians and frequently conducting workshops. She hopes to eventually teach at the university level.
Pamela Barden DBA Pamela is a recognized authority in the specialized field of nonprofit fundraising. In fact, she teaches in the fundraising program at UCLA’s Extension School. With her doctorate, she intends to increase her teaching and publishing in the field, all while continuing to lead her successful consulting business. As a reward to herself for finishing her program, she is attending the 2015 International Fundraising Congress in The Netherlands.
Maureen Hennessey PsyD Maureen earned her doctorate this year after having graduated from her master’s program in 2009 and receiving her undergraduate degree in 2006, all after graduating from high school…in 1953! That’s right, Maureen is 80 years old and sharp as can be, graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Maureen—who maintained a forensic hypnosis practice for years, is a published writer and has completed ultramarathons—inspired everyone she met and even drew a standing ovation as she received her doctoral hood.
Grace Hutchinson and Trish Phillips PsyD Grace’s and Trish’s CalSouthern stories are intertwined. Grace enrolled in CalSouthern’s PsyD program after having received a breast cancer diagnosis. She needed an all-consuming, long-term goal to help her cope with her anxiety and fear. She also needed a friend. Enter Trish, who simultaneously enrolled in the PsyD program to support and encourage Grace, her friend and colleague. Needless to say, it was extraordinarily moving to see the two friends graduate together from this demanding program.
Members of the Class of 2015 are recognized on stage as the 2015 commencement ceremony in Irvine, California.