May 7, 2024

Volume 2, Edition 15

Visit our SOE Website

Dean’s Letter 

Photo: CSUCI President Dr. Richard Yao with a 2023 graduate and child

Commencement: The End of One Journey, the Beginning of the Next


On Saturday, May 18, 2024, we will honor the CSUCI Class of 2024 at our Annual Commencement Ceremonies. Our School of Education will take part in the 9:00 AM ceremony which will include candidates who completed the BA in Early Childhood Studies, BA in Liberal Studies, Credentials, MA in Education, and MA in Educational Leadership (P12 and higher education emphasis).

Each educational endeavor we pursue has beginnings and endings. Students matriculate when they begin the course of study. When individuals complete that course of study from a university, they do not graduate. Instead, we proclaim that rite of passage unique to higher education, “Commencement.” I have always loved this term. Commencement is a brilliant amalgam of the past and the future bound in a common moment.

As my “day job” is now Dean rather than Professor, I find myself continually in ceremonial roles, frequently delivering remarks to begin or end events. In barely seven days, I have spoken at several rites of passage, marking celebrations for School of Education students. Each time, I craft original remarks based on the group I am addressing while remaining mindful that the purpose is to honor our students, not suck the oxygen out of the room with my speeches. I believe my colleagues know they can count on me for three-minute remarks on access, advocacy, caring, teaching, or any subject relevant to the audience we are honoring.

So, I invite you to take three minutes as I share with you my thoughts on Commencement.    

I have often said to my students, “In the midst of your pursuit of your credential/degree, life happens.”

It is “life happening” that can derail students from completing their programs. In the midst of my doctoral studies while I was completing my dissertation in what was supposed to be the last semester of my program, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I needed to care for her, I needed to continue to raise my then-only child, Anna, and I needed to run a school district. Clearly, each of these monumental challenges could have served as a reason to set aside the dissertation—to become one of the dreaded "ABD's" of the planet: a candidate who completes "All but Dissertation." An ABD does not achieve the actual doctoral degree.

I did what I have counseled each of my students: Use the challenge—the defining moment—to move you toward, rather than away from, commencement.

I must stress that the moment-by-moment decision to complete the program we began is not without its perils. Many factors affect the next steps. It is perhaps why I frequently hear commencement speakers or Deans or Presidents of Universities praise the family and friends. Our constellation of support is often critical to our pursuit of our higher education programs. I have seen marriages end, as did my own when I undertook doctoral studies. Some of my students have faced the death of a loved one and challenges to their own health.

On the other hand, some students have added marriage or the birth of their own children to the educational plate. Every imaginable life passage becomes a part of the tapestry in the pursuit of the credential or degree. Some of these events are tragic; other joyous.

But each event returns the candidate to the question of, "Will I complete the program?" Frequently, the late-night conversations I have had with my students over the years are less about course-related questions and more about our purpose on this planet. I have alternately been big sister, mother, coach, mentor, and psychiatrist, depending on the need and the moment. 

In the midst of education, life happens.

The end of the story of my doctoral studies is that I wrote most of the final chapters in hospital treatment- and waiting rooms or at a small desk next to my mother’s bed. Perhaps for me, the greatest impetus for completing it was that I knew that if I took time off, my mother would not be alive to attend my Commencement.

As an immigrant to this country, my mother’s message that education gives us possibilities recurred in my head and I needed her at that final rite of passage. I did complete the manuscript, successfully defend my dissertation, and welcome my mother at Commencement only three months before her death.

There is a photo of my father and me in my university office. None exists of my mother and me that day because she was simply too ill to stand and yet her brilliant countenance as I processed remains memorable and bittersweet. 

I tip a toast toward our new Alumni Dolphins on a job well done and for finding the space to make their educations happen. I also tip a toast toward my many students from years past, who also completed their studies and with whom I have celebrated. Their appreciation of my small role in the journey is exceeded only by the privilege I have had of finally seeing them in the greater context of their lives--with their partners and spouses, their children, their parents, and their friends.

Each Commencement is a reminder of those occasions of joy and of great accomplishment. In the midst of higher education, life happened. Let the new journey in life commence.

To the many commencements of life,


Elizabeth C. Orozco Reilly

This essay is derived in part from one I wrote several years ago during my first decade as a professor in higher education. –ECR 

We’re social! #CSUCIGRAD24





Photo: 2023 SOE graduates.


Graduating Class of 2024, Congratulations to you all!

Letter from Dr. Richard Yao, President of California State University Channel Islands

Photo: Dr. Yao in regalia speaks at a podium

I commend you on achieving this significant milestone in your academic journey. As you prepare to embark on new endeavors, whether it be pursuing further education, starting a new job, or exploring different paths, I want to acknowledge the uncertainty and stress that may accompany this transition. 

Just as you navigated challenges and uncertainties when you first started your academic journey, remember that you have the resilience and strength to overcome any obstacles that come your way. Stepping out of your comfort zone and into an unfamiliar environment can be daunting, but I want you to recognize that you have earned the right to be confident. 

You have received an exceptional education here at CSU Channel Islands, and your understanding of theory, research, and best practices have equipped you with a solid foundation. In moments of self-doubt, I encourage you to draw upon this knowledge and expertise. Your education has prepared you to face the unknown with courage and determination.

I am proud of your hard work, dedication, and perseverance. As you move into this next chapter of your life, trust in your abilities and the education you have received here at CSUCI. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and please be sure and stay connected with CSUCI and classmates by becoming involved with our Alumni & Friends Association.


Richard Yao, Ph. D. 


California State University Channel Islands 

School of Education Master of Arts

Students Showcase Research

Photo: Karina Arroyo presenting her research

On Saturday, May 4, 2024, the CI campus auditorium was abuzz with excitement as the School of Education Master of Arts in Education and in Educational Leadership Candidates came together to showcase their research from the past two years in the programs. The event featured formal thesis and comprehensive exam research presentations.

The thoughtful presentations covered a variety of topics, all connected to an aspect of social justice:

  • Women and Girls with Hemophilia and School Accommodations by Morgan Stowers
  • Developing an Artificial Intelligence Policy Proposal for Schools by Adan Jimenez
  • Rich Soil, Care, and Growth: Using a Bouquet of Flowers Model to Promote Success for First-Generation Chicana and Latina Students in Higher Education by Karina Arroyo
  • Imagining Possibilities: Xicana, Latina and Indigenous Women Making Meaning of Their Experiences with a Critical Theory of Love at a Hispanic Serving Institution by Tommee McMakin
  • Educating Our Digital Youth by Jacqueline Corcoran
  • A Call to Action: Three Ways to Decolonize the Classroom by Amanda Gleeson-Low
  • Faggot: An Autoethnographic Exploration of a Bear in Education and Bearspace by John Carroll
  • Early Childhood Educators Knowledge and Confidence in Social Emotional Development and Implementation Strategies by Allie Dye
  • Disability and Study Abroad: Traveling Beyond the Accommodation by Elizabeth Pode
  • Journey of Womanhood by Meagan Chiaramonte
  • Reevaluating Dual Language Immersion Programs: A Consultant's Approach by Monica Sanchez
  • California Public School Superintendents by Allison McMartin
  • The Impact of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) on Latinx Student Success by Jeanette Monzon
  • A Narrative Inquiry with First-Generation, Latinx, Former Transfer Students who have their Bachelor’s Degree and their Experiences with Student Support Programs by Vanessa Velazquez
  • The Impact of Mentoring Programs on Academic Performance and Retention Rate of Latinx College Students by Michael Iglesias

The event was attended by families and friends, and School of Education thesis and comprehensive examination faculty and faculty advisors. Each presentation was followed by a spirited question and answers discussion.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to all the Master of Arts Candidates for their dedication, passion, and commitment to advancing knowledge and justice in their respective fields. 


Photo: Adan Jimenez presenting his research

Excelencia in Education publication features CSU programs

Photo: Excelencia in Education Logo

The April 2024 edition of Advancing What Works to Intentionally Serve Latino Students: Opportunities for Action – 2024 by Excelencia in Education featured some CSU campuses regarding their programs. Please see below:


Engagement to Prepare Students and Families for College

Given the degree attainment needed to ensure the country’s economic and civic future, there is an opportunity to expand and enhance the engagement of students and their families in the college going process. Through strategic partnerships, bilingual services, mentoring, and high touch outreach, the following programs ensure students and their families are informed and supported as they navigate opportunities for post-secondary education.


Program Name: Center for Educational Partnerships

Institution/Organization: California State University, Fullerton

State: California

Learn More:


First-Year Experiences Building Strong Foundations for Success

Institutions have the opportunity to be proactive with first-year students to ensure they not only enroll but stay with them. Intentional, well-designed, first-year support programs can have a significant impact on students transitioning to college or university, particularly Latino students. The following programs demonstrate such impact through practices like summer bridge programs, financial support, and academic planning. By providing additional services such as individualized mentoring, career exploration, bilingual services, and leadership development these programs not only support but empower students to navigate the complexities of college life with confidence and a sense of belonging.


Program Name: CSUN Bridge to the Future Scholars Program

Institution/Organization: California State University, Northridge

State: California

Learn More:


Program Name: Gaining Access ‘N Academic Success (GANAS)

Institution/Organization: California State University, East Bay

State: California

Learn More:


Bilingualism Enhancing Academic and Career Connections

Given Spanish is a local and global language the demand for Spanish speakers in multiple professions will continue to be a need. Bilingual Latino students are uniquely positioned to have these needed language skills and the cultural contexts to better understand and serve others in their communities and in their future careers. The programs below leverage community partnerships, bicultural pedagogy, and experiential learning to support student academic and career success. Many of their alumni are becoming leaders and change agents in their professions.


Program Name: Ánimo Latinx Counseling Emphasis

Institution/Organization: California State University, Fullerton

State: California

Learn More:


Gender-Based Learning Communities to Support Success

Gender-based programming has emerged as a transformative approach to address and mitigate the disparities faced by students based on gender, particularly within underrepresented communities. These programs engage parents, provide tutoring, utilize cohort groupings, and build strong mentoring relationships. These programs below build confidence, inspire ambition, and illuminate the possibilities that lie ahead, particularly in fields where they have been historically marginalized.


Program Name: Mathematics Intensive Summer Session (MISS)

Institution/Organization: California State University, Fullerton

State: California

Learn More:  

Upcoming Information Sessions

All sessions will be held via Zoom. Registered participants will receive an email with meeting details.

Please register in advance. We look forward to seeing you at an upcoming session.

MA in Educational Leadership & Preliminary Administrative Services Credential Session


Please register here

MA in Education Session

TUESDAY JUNE 11, 2024, 5:15-6:00PM

Please register here

Upcoming Events




South Quad

9:00am and 3:00pm

click here for more information

View our full School of Education Events Calendar

Financial Aid Resources

Our Programs

Faculty & Staff

Donate to our SOE
Request an event
Request Webpage Services
Facebook  X  Instagram  LinkedIn