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Graduates at CSU Channel Islands celebrated with drive-thru ceremony, music and dancing

CAMARILLO, Calif. - It's graduation season, and graduates at Cal State University Channel Islands were celebrated with a hybrid ceremony this weekend, including caps, gowns and cars.

While staying physical distanced and adhering to local COVID-19 regulations, each member of the Class of 2021 drove up to one of several stages on campus with their family and friends.

Just as they would during a normal graduation ceremony, the graduates were welcomed by Provost Mitch Avila, Ph.D., and listened to a congratulatory message from Interim President Richard Yao, Ph.D.

Graduating students then listened to messages from from Academic Senate Chair and Professor of Physics Greg Wood, Ph.D., as well as the recipient of this year's honorary doctorate, retired Director of Facility Support, Raudel Bañuelos. Finally, the Student Government President Sophie Nguyễn shared her reflections on the past year.

Raudel Bañuelos has been a familiar face on campus for decades and has worked on the grounds of what is now CSUCI for more than 20 years before the University was founded. The school said his Chumash ancestors were part of the land for thousands of years before that.

"I feel so honored to be able to contribute for 40 years, not just in my facilities role, but also culturally," Bañuelos said. "There used to be a small village site at the bottom of Round Mountain, or Sat'wiwa. I feel honored to represent myself, my elders and our ancestors, and to share our history of this land and to be part of what this land has become today."

Bañuelos worked for Camarillo State Hospital beginning in the 1980s, then was asked to work for CSUCI after the hospital property was transferred in 1997 from the State to the CSU for the purpose of establishing CSUCI.

After presentations, each student's name was read on stage and their car was directed to a drive-thru station where they could pick up their diploma covers, walk across the state, have their photo taken and hop back in their cars.

"We could not be prouder of the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021, who persevered through more than a year of unprecedented personal, economic, family and academic challenges to arrive at this day," said Interim President Richard Yao. "Rarely do we see the kind of resilience we saw with these graduation candidates and I am deeply honored my first commencement address as Interim President will be for this outstanding group. Congratulations to you all."

CSUCI shared some videos of the event on their Twitter account including shots of traffic directors dancing and enjoying the music while directing cars at the ceremony.

A ceremony was also held on Friday, May 21, at 9 a.m. for the Class of 2020.  

For more information about CSUCI's Commencement, visit

Article Topic Follows: Education

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Jessica Brest

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