Before the current campus of California State University Stanislaus was fully constructed, college students who attended the university took their courses at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds.
Sue Smith, a graduate from the CSU Stanislaus Class of 1963, was one of those students who attended their courses at the fairground and graduated at a ceremony held at the Turlock High School auditorium. On May 31, she will get the opportunity to stand on stage during the 2013 Commencement ceremony in the CSU Stanislaus amphitheater at a campus that did not exist when she earned her degree.
Smith and Myrle Wall – both graduates from the Class of 1963 – will be honored by CSU Stanislaus as “Golden Grads” at the 2013 Commencement Ceremonies. President Joe Sheley brought the new initiative to CSU Stanislaus as a way to recognize alumni who graduated 50 years prior each year. Although Smith and Wall are the only two who are able to attend this year’s ceremony, 17 others graduates of the Class of ’63 will be recognized during the program as well.
“I could have never afforded to go away to college,” said Smith, who graduated from Livingston High School and lived in Modesto while pursuing her degree. “I basically live at home, like most of us did. It made college accessible to a lot more people in the area.”
The Golden Grads program offers a chance for alumni to reconnect with the university that provided access to education to them. According to Sheley, many other universities celebrate the golden anniversaries of graduates. CSU Stanislaus, however, is a rare case as it only recently marked its own 50th anniversary. Opening in 1960 as Stanislaus State College, the university held its first commencement in 1961 with just 25 students receiving degrees.
“We are so very excited about our Golden Grads and bringing to our current graduating class a link to this university’s history,” said Sheley. “We hope to expand the number of Golden Grads over the next several years. It is an honor and an inspiration to see them return to their alma mater.”