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Alumni to Cal State LA graduates: Pursue passions and dream big

May 22, 2019

By Jillian Beck | Cal State LA News Service

Distinguished Cal State LA alumni urged graduating business students to pursue their passions and not to set limits on their dreams as they embark on their careers.

The two afternoon Commencement ceremonies for the College of Business and Economics on May 22 featured keynote remarks from Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center CEO Jorge Orozco and Leonor Gaviña-Valls, vice president of marketing for F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc.

“What are your passions? What is your purpose in life? I encourage you to unashamedly own those passions and weave them into every aspect of your career,” Orozco said, delivering a rousing speech at the college’s 12:30 p.m. ceremony.

Orozco, who grew up in Boyle Heights, received a master’s degree in healthcare management from Cal State LA in 2003. He recounted experiences from his life that led him to discover his desire to provide quality health care to communities in need.

Orozco started his career as a physical therapist, later working his way up into supervisory positions, albeit reluctantly at first. He was elevated to CEO of the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center before his current position as head of the Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center, one of the largest and most complex medical facilities in the nation. He realized he could use his background and his passion to serve his community as assets in his new position as a leader.

“Graduates, yLeonor Gaviña-Valls at lectern looking out at gradsour aspirational goals should never be grounded in positions or titles, rather they should be driven by your passion and purpose,” Orozco said.

Gaviña-Valls spoke to business graduates at the 4:30 p.m. ceremony, sharing her family’s journey from leaving Cuba for the United States 50 years ago to running the nation’s largest minority-owned family coffee roaster.

For Gaviña-Valls, earning her bachelor’s degree in economics from Cal State LA in 1974 was an important moment for herself, and for her family.  

“It also became a synopsis of everything that my family and I had been through—and worked for—to get to where we were in that very moment of my life,” Gaviña-Valls said. “Everything seemed so unlikely, yet so possible. I remember looking around to see where I was, wanting to freeze the moment in my mind so that I’d never forget it.”

Gaviña-Valls’ brother Francisco Gaviña, vice president for F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc., is also an alumnus of Cal State LA. The siblings received the Cal State LA Alumni Family Award in 2015.

During her address, Gaviña-Valls congratulated the graduating students, encouraging them to follow their dreams.

“I’m here to tell you that sometimes you cannot even imagine how high or how far you can go,” she said. “Don’t put a ceiling on your dreams. There are no limits on what you can do and what you can dream.”

Photos: Above, Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center CEO Jorge Orozco delivers keynote remarks to graduating business students. Bottom, left: Leonor Gaviña-Valls, vice president of marketing for F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc., speaks to students graduating from the College of Business and Economics. (Credit: Robert Huskey and Ty Washington/Cal State LA)

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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 28,000 students and has more than 245,000 distinguished alumni.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit