Eleven 2020 graduates reflect on their time at CSUN

Every spring, graduating students all over the country eagerly prepare to walk across a stage and enter a new path of life. This year, things are a little different. Graduation is a time for joy and celebration. While that is still possible, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the way graduates have traditionally celebrated their accomplishments. The Sundial has provided a platform for students to reflect on their time at CSUN and celebrate their victories in a different way:


Bryanna Winner

Bryanna Winner

Many graduate students choose not to walk at graduation because they already did when they got their bachelor’s degree. For me, however, I was choosing to walk even though I walked when I graduated from college the first time.

I got my bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in 2018 but only some of my family was able to attend. I was born and raised in Northridge and with the majority of my family being in Southern California, only my immediate family members were able to come. Even then, some of them couldn’t attend.

Walking this May was going to be a special one for me. When I came to grad school in August 2018, my goal was to walk at graduation for all of my family that couldn’t attend the first time. This would include my grandfather. However, he passed away from cancer in July 2019 so he never got the chance to see me graduate.

I was planning on decorating my cap in his honor and wearing something with purple in it (his favorite color), but due to COVID-19 causing graduation to be postponed, I can’t do that. Either way, he is in my heart whether I walk or not, but it will always hurt knowing that he couldn’t physically be at my graduations.


Deja Magee

Deja Magee

2020 was already off to a not-so-good start. Having COVID-19 get in the way of my graduation didn’t surprise me. I’ve done a stellar job at being a top-notch student for the past five years but hearing that my graduation ceremony is postponed left me with a feeling of … apathy.

My indifference to everything shocks me but doesn’t astonish me. I used to be a person that would feel their world crashing down in a situation like this, but after busting myself to make sure I was one of the best scholars I could be, I’ve developed the type of personality where I can try to take things day by day if they’re out of my control. The only real worry that has been on my mind since this quarantine started has been trying to get a job in my field of study.

I’m an English major and my thought process as of right now is to try and gain a profitable job that can burgeon my career path. For the past three (almost four) years, I’ve been working at a movie theater. Working there was supposed to be one of the concrete points in my life to help me stay afloat while I looked for a job in my career field. However, I was laid off at the end of March. It was a huge blow to my ego and to my future. Thankfully, I can get my job back with a simple reapplication, but it felt like a cut in the safety net that I thought I had.

Now that we know that CSUN is trying to have a delayed ceremony in December (at this point and time) makes me hopeful, but at this point in the stint of the last semester of my college career, my mind is fixed towards the beyond.

Beyond the virus.

Beyond the ceremony, and beyond the now.


Kiara Reyes

Kiara Marie Reyes

Being a part of the first virtual graduating class is quite surreal. I never really cared much for my college’s commencement for a few reasons. The major reason being that undergrads are unable to walk across the stage due to how many people graduate each year. Truthfully, I was skeptical about even attending, and I kept finding myself feeling torn. Did I really want to sit in a three-hour graduation where I didn’t even get to walk and hear my family cheer for me? As I pondered on graduation, all those torn feelings came to a halt when I heard graduation would be canceled. Seeing the email from our school’s president left me feeling nothing but dread. Yes, I was torn about going, however I did not expect the option to be taken from me.

As a first-generation graduate, this was tough news to swallow. I’m very proud to be the first in my family to graduate. I knew the cancellation of commencement was a possibility due to COVID-19 … however, that still didn’t prepare me for hearing this news. I thought, “How would we all be celebrated? How do you take all the hard work students accomplished and celebrate that without a physical ceremony? How can every student feel valued and commended for their hard work\; once you take away the very thing that is supposed to celebrate their achievements?”

My school was unsure of how to even celebrate us, so they opened a forum where Brooklyn College students can enter their ideas on how we should proceed with commencement. So together as a graduating class, the universal idea was for us to have a virtual commencement, where we can still hear faculty speak on our accomplishments and acknowledge each of us. Each student can submit a photo of themselves, their major and a quote that will be displayed in a slideshow on the virtual commencement website. Once I read about the plans to incorporate each student into the slideshow, a feeling of fulfillment and excitement sprung on me. I felt validated, possibly more than I would have had we graduated in person.

Although this is not exactly ideal for everyone, it brings me to hope that still as a school, we are able to come together to compromise and build something to honor the graduating students. We, the Class of 2020 deserve to be celebrated. We have had sleepless nights, numerous finals, stress and a whole pandemic that could have prevented us from graduating. Yet, we did not let that stop us, which is a rewarding feeling. Now I can say … not only am I a first-generation graduate, but I am also a first virtual commencement graduate … which is something cool I can share with the future generations to come.


Miguel Gonzalez

Miguel Gonzalez

CSUN has introduced me to some wonderful professors and bright students. In my brief journey here, I’ve met some good people. The circumstances we are graduating in are not the best but it didn’t stop us from pursuing our education.

I am the first in my family to graduate from a university and I owe it to my family. They supported me in many ways and kept me going whether they knew it or not. When I would get tired or felt really stressed, just hearing the voice of my mother or jokes of my brothers got me through. Señor Benavides, thank you for your help throughout my time here. Professor Macchiarella, thank you for listening. My good friend Julian and the Tapia family, thank you for being there. Everyone who was there throughout the process, thank you.

When I first transferred here I couldn’t believe it, now that my time here is done I can’t believe it’s actually over. I did it, we all did it. The future is uncertain but that is the beauty of it. Be sure of who you are in a world that is constantly changing.

No olvides de donde vienes.

Best wishes to all Matadors.

May we never stop listening, never stop writing, and always keep learning.


Sara Delia

Sara Delia

I have to be honest, this is not how I pictured myself graduating, not in a thousand years. Not only I won’t be able to walk for my graduation, but I will also have to say goodbye to my professors and my classmates through a computer screen. It is going to be sadder than I planned it to be.

But there is one thing I learned during this bizarre, unusual, and difficult time and that thing is that my university can really pull through. The support I received from the professors and the CSUN institution in general, made me feel not just part of a prestigious school but also part of a big family.

This pandemic has enhanced the human side of CSUN and I couldn’t be prouder of graduating as a Matador. I will forever cherish the people I met during my academic journey at CSUN, knowing how thankful I am for everything I learned as a student and as a person.

CSUN will always hold a special spot in my memories and in my heart.

Forever a Matador.


Andrea Aguinada

Andrea Aguinda

My fellow Class of 2020, it has truly been a ride for us all. We never imagined we would be celebrating our big day stuck at home. I know some of us are disappointed and sad, but do not let these circumstances take away from the fact that you accomplished something huge! We did it y’all, we graduated and that is an accomplishment that no one can take away from us. I loved my time at CSUN, I will miss everything from the SRC, down to Manzanita Hall which was my home for the past two years. CSUN became a second home to me, somedays I was there longer than I was at my actual home. I am a proud CSUN Matador and will always be. These circumstances may not be the way we pictured leaving our beloved school, but I will always be thankful for the growth, the friends and the memories along the way. I look forward to hopefully walking those steps up the Oviatt one last time come December (fingers crossed). As I write this, I am becoming teary-eyed remembering all the good times I spent at CSUN with some of the best people. As this chapter closes and we step out into the real world I want to say from the bottom of my heart: Congrats Matadors, we made it — we are graduates!


Xochitl Hernandez

Xochitl Hernandez

My time at CSUN has been the most formative four years of my life\; I have experienced both my greatest triumphs/opportunities and most difficult hardships. CSUN has been my home away from home as a commuter student, I would spend 12+ hour days five-six days a week here on campus for my opera and concert rehearsals, performances, studying at the library, and editing my reporter packages and podcasts for my journalism classes. This semester has definitely been the craziest I have ever experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I have suddenly had to mourn the loss of every one of my canceled senior culminating activities I worked toward and have experienced the difficulties of having to do virtual learning which is especially challenging for a performer and reporter. While it has been difficult to apply for my career jobs and finish my semester strong online, this pandemic is yet another obstacle I have faced during my undergrad that I know I will endure and conquer! I thank my amazing professors who invested so much into me, my family, friends and especially my parents for helping me through my journey, especially during very trying times. While it is difficult for my time at CSUN to end this way, I feel it is not a total farewell because I will forever hold dear to my heart the memories and friendships I made on this campus, the same campus where my parents met in the ’90s. I hope to one day walk the commencement stage of CSUN with my degree in hand, just like my mother did 22 years ago when she was pregnant with me. CSUN has made me closer to my dreams and has helped make me the singer, performer, multimedia journalist and all-around Chicana woman I am today, ready to set forth in the world and make an impact with my passions.


Kimberly Silverio-Bautista

Kimberly Silverio-Bautista

Mama y Papa,

May 17 and 18 were the days we were supposed to graduate from this long five-year college journey. It was supposed to be the moment where we finally said “SI SE PUDO!”, cried tears of joy and hugged each other. Although commencement is postponed until further notice, we won’t let this pandemic stop us from celebrating. You both have taught me that no matter how hard life gets, we have to confront it y a echarle ganas! porque nosotros no nos rajamos. You’ve both seen me at my worst, my pain, and the times I’ve wanted to give up because I felt that I wasn’t going to make it. Your actions of love and realness are what have gotten me to this point in life. Dad, I see you working tirelessly in construction under the intense heat, bending your back and lifting heavy material on top of a roof so that you are able to support my mother and me. I see you and mom getting older and tired day by day. I look at your hands and faces and notice you’ve committed many sacrifices to give me a better life than you both had back in Mexico. There have been multiple times that I’ve said that I want to repay you both for everything you’ve done, although I feel that getting my degree isn’t enough. Although you both have mentioned that it is enough because that’s what you both came here to the U.S. for, a better life. As I am writing this letter with tears running down my face, I feel that by writing this it’s a way to honor your love, dedication, realness and recognize the most hardworking human beings I’ve ever met in life. I also want to leave your names, Jose Pablo Silverio Luna and Maria Guadalupe Bautista Marin, engraved somewhere at California State University, Northridge because I wouldn’t be where I am now and you both deserve this recognition. I love you both with all my heart and I promise that I will repay you both for everything. Thank you for molding me into the woman I am today and like you both always say: “A chingarle porque no hay otra!”

Con amor,
Kimberly Silverio-Bautista su hija “La Reportera”


Hector Lopez

Hector Lopez

To me, graduation didn’t really mean much and felt more of a celebratory thing than a meaningful thing. Graduation was an optional thing for students, and it wasn’t a requirement, so I never really gave it much thought, but now that I won’t have the traditional ceremony, my opinion has changed.

When it comes to graduation, I’ve only walked the stage once for high school and that was nearly 10 years ago. When I was ready to transfer to CSUN in the fall of 2018, I skipped my community college graduation as I was more focused on doing the next thing, getting my bachelor’s degree.

The decision didn’t sit well with my parents and family. I was called selfish for it, but I never understood why. It was my hard work and grades that got me to where I was, not theirs, so if anything I thought they were selfish for not respecting what I wanted.

Even though I didn’t go to graduation, my family respected my decision and were supportive of what I wanted to do, which quite frankly is amazing of them.

Now that my time has come to graduate, it couldn’t be more perfect, right? No graduation? Well now that it’s not happening in May anymore, I’ve been thinking about what it means.

Graduation is a milestone in life and it’s not something that many people get to do in their lifetime. It’s a celebration for my family because they are happy for my success and while they didn’t help me with writing papers or studying for tests, they helped me by giving me their unconditional love and support.

They were by my side the entire time, so my graduation is an achievement for them that is worth celebrating.

Fortunately, I am finally going to get my bachelor’s degree after working so long and hard for it and while I won’t get to hear my name called out and my family cheering for me, it’ll still be a celebration for achieving something meaningful.


Alyssa Durant

Alyssa Durant

I transferred to CSUN from Santa Barbara City College in the fall semester of 2018, I can’t believe how fast these two years flew by! As I reflect on my time at CSUN, I cherish all the opportunities presented by this institution that helped me gain inner strength through academic experience. Although the senior class of 2020 is graduating in unconventional conditions, this is nonetheless a time to remember and a time to celebrate.

Being able to devote myself to the journalism and sustainability programs has only proven to be an investment in my future as I take the next step into a new chapter of my life. I achieved levels of success that felt so out-of-reach for me five years ago.

I couldn’t have accomplished these educational fulfilments without the guidance and empathy of all my professors back in Manzanita Hall. I’d like to give a personal shout out to David Blumenkrantz, David Grewe and Melissa Wall for being notably excellent, understanding mentors who checked in on me during times of need. And to all my classmates who I’ve befriended along the way: thank you for inspiring me with your individual flairs and talented skill sets. There are some seriously gifted individuals coming out of this program, I’m proud to be graduating alongside so many hardworking peers. Through all the ups and downs, we made it! The future is ours, now it’s time to chase our dreams and shape the world.


Ivey Mellem

Ivey Mellem

It’s a bittersweet thing to be ending six years of college and a master’s degree without some kind of celebration, like a night out or spending time with family and friends. Though we have social media to keep us connected even in this era of social distancing, there’s something so comforting about having that real human interaction, despite the danger.

But if this situation has taught me one thing, it’s that there’s a lot to be grateful for. Even if I can’t celebrate the achievement of graduating with a party, it doesn’t make that achievement any less significant. I worked hard to earn my degree and I can be proud of that forever, not just for one celebratory night. I’m grateful for my friends, my family, my co-workers at The Sundial, my peers, my professors, and all of the experiences I’ve had and the things I’ve learned. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given just as much as I’m grateful for being safe and healthy during this time.

No matter how many late nights, tears, breakdowns, or stressful assignments, I would do it all again. The person I am now — after six years, three colleges and three degrees — is someone I’m happy to be. Of course the journey hasn’t been easy or perfect (I might have contemplated dropping out a few times), but ultimately it’s led me to where I am now. My two years at CSUN have given me a lifetime of opportunities and experiences to take into my future, and I’m so grateful for that.

So, even if all I do on May 15 is order takeout and bake a cake with my family and wait a couple of months for my diploma to arrive in the mail, it’s still worth it. Yeah, it sucks that COVID-19 took away senior activities and postponed commencement, made it unsafe for family and friends to visit and celebrate, and has kept the world on edge … but that doesn’t invalidate any achievements I’ve made. We all have the right to be proud of our work, no matter the circumstances.

Here’s to the future, and what we choose to make of it.