May 18, 2003 - San Diego Union-Tribune: Director Vasquez speaks at CSU San Marcos Commencement

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Director Vasquez speaks at CSU San Marcos Commencement

Read and comment on this story from the San Diego Union-Tribune on Director Vasquez commencement address at CSU San Marcos at:

Three graduates specially honored*

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Three graduates specially honored

By Blanca Gonzalez

May 18, 2003

DEL MAR Sandra Jimenez, 38, knows what it's like to sit in a classroom not understanding a word the teacher is saying.

Philoan Chau, 52, fled Saigon when it was taken over by Communists and ended up in a country she knew nothing about, including its language.

Stephen Descollonges, 51, has been a licensed contractor and a musician but what he really wants to do is improve the workplace.

All three received special recognition and awards at yesterday's commencement ceremonies for California State University San Marcos, which granted degrees to about 1,400 graduates.

Jimenez, who learned English nearly 20 years ago by attending night school in San Diego, received the College of Education Dean's Award. Jimenez had moved to San Diego from Sonora, Mexico, when she was 19 but she moved to Tijuana several years ago so she could afford college. "My goal is to help kids in an area with a high Latino population," said Jimenez, who commuted from Tijuana to San Marcos for three years to became a bilingual teacher.

Chau, who worked in a bank in Vietnam before coming to the United States, received the College of Business Administration Dean's Award. She learned English 10 years ago, earned 14 scholarships and now has a degree in accounting.

Descollonges raised the issue of privacy in seeking to discontinue the use of Social Security numbers for identification cards and led the effort to create a Human Development Club. For his efforts, Descollonges received the Student Leadership Award from the vice president of student affairs. Descollonges received a human development degree, and hopes to work in the corporate world offering therapy and counseling services for managers to improve their people skills.

CSU San Marcos held commencement ceremonies throughout the day at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Speakers included Peace Corps director Gaddi Vasquez, and college President Alexander Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said that while nothing in life is a sure bet, "Investing your time, your money, your intellectual, social, emotional and physical effort to earn (a degree or certificate) is one of the surest bets you could have made in your life, and one of the safest investments that the public can make for its future."

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