CSLA Commencement 1996

Contact: Carol Selkin
Director, Public Information
(323) 343-3050
or Margie Yu,
Public Affairs Assistant
(323) 343-3047


CSLA Class of '96 includes a 19-year-old summa cum laude graduate, three honor-student sisters, a 74+-year-old grandmother; a special education doctoral recipient and an electrical engineering major/physics minor with an interest in music and passion for photography

Los Angeles, CA -- June 5, 1996 -- The 49th Commencement ceremonies at California State University, Los Angeles will take place on Saturday, June 8, 1996, in the University Athletic Stadium, located at the southeast corner of the campus. The academic procession will start at 8:15 a.m. and the formal exercises are scheduled to end at approximately 10 a.m. Department and program receptions in various campus locations will follow the ceremony.

This year's featured speaker will be Fermin Cuza, vice president of Mattel Toys and the University's 1994 Distinguished Alumnus from the School of Business and Economics. Larry Adamson, director of administrative services for the Automobile Club of Southern California and past president of Cal State L.A.'s Alumni Association, will be receiving the prestigious CSU Alumni Volunteer of the Year award from the California State University system's Alumni Council.

More than 20,000 people are expected at this year's graduation to witness the conferral of over 770 master's degrees and 2,660 bachelor's degrees.

Among the outstanding CSLA students receiving degrees this year are:

  • 19-year-old biology major and summa cum laude graduate Timothy Yeh, who entered Cal State L.A. at 13 and will be attending medical school in the fall;
  • sisters and honor students Ana Lilia, Maria Elena and Martha Lira, cum laude, magna cum laude and magna cum laude graduates, respectively, each receiving a B.A. in Spanish;
  • "74-and-five-twelfths"-year-old grandmother and former fashion designer Molly Rudnick Klasky, who will receive her B.A. in Art;
  • Eduardo Urgiles, an electrical engineering major and physics minor whose interests embrace the sciences and the arts, (he has spent the past 3 summers at the National Renewable Energy Labs under a Dept. of Energy MAERC research fellowship -- his imaginative time-exposure photographs have been on view in two exhibitions);
  • Rebecca Dodge Golub, Cal State L.A./UCLA joint doctoral recipient in Special Education.

For more information, photos or for interviews, call CSLA Public Affairs, (323) 343-3050.

Timothy Yeh, B.S., biology

San Marino resident Timothy Yeh is one of the Early Entrance Program (EEP) students graduating this June from Cal State L.A. The EEP admits outstanding youngsters 14 and under to the University, providing them with support programs and special advisement. It is the only such program serving the greater Los Angeles area, and one of only two in the western United States.

Yeh started his college career at the young age of 13, and will be graduating summa cum laude, the highest honor given to CSLA graduates, with a Bachelor of Science in Biology.

Now 19, Tim admits he was nervous at the start of his college career, but says that he ultimately made good friends both from the EEP and outside the program. He describes his experience at CSLA as enriching, praising the quality of his professors, and says he has benefited from the opportunity to interact one-on-one with the faculty and from the University's diverse campus community.

Despite his busy schedule of studying, attending classes and working in the labs, Tim has found time to volunteer with Circle K -- a community service organization -- and with L.A. County-USC Medical Center and Huntington Hospital as a candy-striper.

A very focused individual, Timothy Yeh has aimed his course work and extracurricular activities toward becoming a physician -- he likes working with people and he finds it challenging to combine humanitarian concerns with academic pursuit. He also comments that one of his other goals is to have a more active voice in the Asian American community. Tim has recently been accepted to one medical school and is still waiting to hear from several others. But he is definitely enthusiastic about his acceptance. He declares, "It's great to have my foot in the door, and the support of my family and close friends has been a major motivating factor for me."

"Timothy Yeh is a very impressive student," says Howard Rosen, Tim's biology professor. "With his intelligence, drive and personality, I have no qualms that he will do well in medical school."

Ana Lilia, Maria Elena and Martha Lira, B.A., Spanish

Three out of four sisters attending Cal State L.A. will be graduating with high honors this June: Ana Lilia Lira will be graduating cum laude, her sisters Martha and Maria Elena will be magna cum laude graduates -- each receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish.

Born in Mexico (Martha and Ana Lilia in Tepatitlan, Maria Elena in Guadalajara), the sisters came with their family to the United States only 10 years ago. The trio is so close that they are even prone to finishing each other's sentences, and each continued to reinforce her sisters' education at various levels -- plunging into general education courses alongside English as a Second Language classes. As children, the three agree, their language training was rigorous -- "our school in Mexico was very demanding, very strict," says Maria Elena. The sisters were superior students of Spanish by high school, and were in demand for all levels of tutoring. Achieving their A.A. degrees at Glendale Community College, they decided as a unit, to study for their B.A. degrees at Cal State L.A. "No one at home had a degree," says Martha, "and we thought, 'why not try?' We never had any doubts we could handle the work."

Members of Golden Key and Sigma Delta Pi honor societies (in a rare move, the latter language honor society awarded all three the Gabriela Mistral Prize for outstanding undergraduate work in 1996), the Liras have been admitted to CSLA's Master's program in Spanish. "They are among our very best students," says Domnita Dumitrescu, with whom the three sisters have studied linguistics and who has "seen them flourish" at Cal State L.A. "They have a great sensitivity to the language," she says, "and they're more than just gifted academically -- they have a wonderful attitude. They are outstanding people." All three currently assist teachers at local elementary schools: Martha at John Marshall in grades 3 and 4, Maria Elena at Horace Mann in 4th and 5th grades, and Ana Lilia at John Marshall at the Kindergarten level.

The three are not the only members of their family on the Cal State L.A. campus -- their sister Teresa is also a Spanish major and an honors student. A fifth sister, Ofelia, is majoring in art at CSLA. But perhaps, says Martha, there will be more Liras on campus by next year -- "our youngest sister Carla may be coming to Cal State L.A. in the fall!"

Molly Rudnick Klasky, B.A., art

Monterey Park resident Molly Klasky already has her A.A. degree from East L.A. College, where she graduated cum laude She even has a credential to teach adult education, which she has done, in the Alhambra School District. But on June 8, the self-described "seventy-four-and-five-twelfths"-year-old grandmother will receive her B.A. in art with an option in studio art. "She is a wonderful painter, and a beautiful person," says Joe Soldate, chair of Cal State L.A.'s art department. Artistic by nature, Molly worked for years in the fashion industry: "I didn't start out as a designer," she says, explaining that she worked at many different jobs in the field, building her career by learning the business from the ground up. While working, she took courses at L.A. Trade Tech and through UCLA Extension to gain further expertise in her field. "I never painted, though," she says, clearly enjoying her new artistic expression -- "I intend to continue with it!"

Eduardo Urgiles, B.S., electrical engineering

Nine of Eduardo Urgiles' evocative, hand-tinted photographs were featured in the juried student art exhibition at Cal State L.A. this year. But he is not an art major, nor is he a music major, even though he plays the guitar and aspires to play the saxophone. Ed is an electrical engineering major and physics minor with a broad range of interests that encompass both the arts and the sciences. He has spent the past three summers doing research at the National Renewable Energy Labs under a Dept. of Energy Fellowship administered by the Associated Western Universities, and has participated in the DOE's MAERC (Minority Access to Energy-Related Research Careers) program at Cal State L.A. since 1992. His sophisticated research project on "Vapor Chemical Reaction Growth of Germanium Oxide," outlining the development of materials that can be used for solar cells, won first prize at the 1994 CSU research competition. His work, done under the guidance of CSLA Physics Professor Charles Coleman, has also resulted in a published article; further results were presented at a meeting of the American Physical Society in Saint Louis this past March.

Born in Quito, Ecuador, Ed came to the United States when he was 8 years old. "My reading level was zero," he recalls, "but by the end of third grade I had passed most of the kids in the class." At Southgate Junior High he was put in an English as a Second Language class, but had himself transferred out, jumping straight into a special leadership program. It was there that he became interested in photography, working on the school yearbook, getting involved in the school's audio-visual program and taking special classes. By eighth grade he had become student body president, delivering the graduation speech. In high school, he continued to excel in math and science, while also pursuing his interest in photography. Ed eventually transferred to Cal State L.A. from Harvey Mudd College at the suggestion of Cal State L.A. Professor Frieda Stahl, who was doing research at Harvey Mudd at the time.

As for a long-term career, Ed is still looking for a job that blends his many talents and interests: his work in electronmicroscopy at the NREL has come about as close as he can imagine, so far. He has also thought about doing graduate work in photography -- perhaps at Brooks Institute or Art Center College of Design -- but financial considerations have made him put aside those dreams for now. Research seems to be part of his nature "I enjoy solving problems," he says. In an essay two years ago, Ed wrote: ". . . our dependence on fossil fuels, being able to live comfortably [while] leaving those in the future [a] place to live, and disposing materials generated by our current alternative energy sources . . . The solutions to these problems will open up many possibilities for our future . . . but it is only through continued research that these solutions will be attained." But will he abandon photography? Not likely, as Ed reminds us, "I've been doing photography longer than I've been doing engineering!"

Rebecca Dodge Golub, CSLA/UCLA joint Ph.D. in Special Education

Conquering the Odds refers both to the odds that seemed weighted against Rebecca Dodge Golub earning a Ph.D. in Special Education and to the title of her very weighty doctoral dissertation, Conquering the Odds: Improving School Services to Mexican-American Secondary School Students in the U.S. Schools From 1988-1990. This year, Rebecca is the only candidate at Cal State L.A.'s Commencement to receive a doctorate under the joint CSLA/UCLA degree program in special education. Married, with two young children and a full-time job as a school psychologist, Rebecca persevered, despite the fact that, last year, her husband's job necessitated a move to Palm Desert -- a two-hour drive to school for her. How did she do it? "I can't say enough about Cal State L.A.'s Anna Bing Arnold Child Care Center," she enthuses. "The program was wonderful. And Cal State L.A. as a whole is very supportive of working parents."

The challenge wasn't exactly a surprise: "I knew it would take a huge commitment," says Rebecca, who earned her B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and her M.A. at Cal State L.A. in school psychology and counseling. Starting as a teacher's aide, Rebecca has worked as a teacher, a school counselor, a special education teacher and, finally, a school psychologist -- most recently for the William S. Hart School District in Santa Clarita County. "I always liked working with kids, especially handicapped kids," she says. "While I was doing my internship, I was working -- alongside psychiatrists and clinical psychologists -- with autistic children, abused children . . . I knew I needed more training to help my students . . . I needed that Ph.D.!"

As a child, Rebecca suffered from physical disabilities that included legs that needed straightening and respiratory problems, difficulties that caused her family to resettle in Tucson, Arizona. There, her schooling took place on the Pima reservation. "We were in contact with Pima Indians, lots of Taiwanese immigrants, Mexican-American kids -- it was a very multicultural environment," she says. "I had a great education there . . . we sat on the floor -- there was a lot of interaction in our education. When we moved to L.A., I had to sit in rows in school and listen to 'lectures' -- it was a culture shock" which landed her in a special education class, says Rebecca. Although she subsequently skipped two grades, the experience helped shape her interest in the way children learn. "I've always been interested in knowing what the risk factor was [for students]," she says, "especially Mexican-American children."

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