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Class of 2013 graduates from SSU

  • Undergraduate students cheer as their school is introduced during the morning commencement exercises at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park on May 11, 2013. (ALVIN JORNADA/Press Democrat)

Enduring one final test — a two-hour ceremony under a hot sun — about 1,000 Sonoma State University students celebrated their graduation Saturday afternoon on the Rohnert Park campus.

Shade was scarce but spirits were high as a standing-room-only crowd packed Commencement Lawn for the liberal arts-oriented state college's 51st graduation ceremony.

“Black gowns on a hot day — not a good mix,” said Simonne Fortier of Sacramento, who earned a bachelor's degree in criminology.

But Fortier, who said she would like to work as a criminal profiler, said the ceremony was “a lot of fun.”

“It's finally over,” she said. “I'm excited.”

While Fortier doesn't know what's next in her life, fellow graduate Chase Takajo of San Diego, who picked up a degree in geography, starts a job at the Sonoma County Water Agency in July.

The degree took five years, but Takajo, wearing a purple flower lei around his neck, said it “definitely was worth it.”

“He's a great kid,” said Julie Takajo, a beaming mother.

“He has his moments,” teased sister Jaimie Takajo, who is working on an MBA at San Diego State University.

“I'm very proud of him,” she said.

The afternoon ceremony was for students in SSU's Schools of Social Science and Science and Technology. A morning ceremony awarded degrees to students in the Schools of Education, Arts and Humanities, and Business and Economics.

SSU President Ruben Armiñana said the 2,200-member Class of 2013 joined a pool of 53,000 students who have received bachelor's and master's degrees since the first commencement in 1962.

In contrast to the toasty weather, keynote speaker Alison Levine described her experiences scaling Mt. Everest and skiing to the North and South Poles, saying the lessons she learned in such hostile environments are applicable to life in “very extreme times.”

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