SAN MARCOS, Calif. — Cal State San Marcos celebrated the graduating classes of 2021 and 2020 this weekend as it held its first commencement ceremonies in two years.
A total of 4,592 students will graduate as part of the Class of 2021. The Class of 2020, which numbers 4,618, graduated last May, but those students will be sharing in the ceremonies this month because the 2020 commencement was postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
CSUSM's commencement features five different ceremonies stretched across the two days.
"We've been looking forward to this for years, so when COVID happened, we didn't think she'd even walk the stage," Debra Jones, a parent, said.
On Saturday, the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral and Social Sciences and the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral and Social Sciences all held ceremonies.
"It's been a long road but I'm glad I'm finally done. An accomplishment," graduate Gemma Landay said.
On Sunday, the College of Business Administration will hold commencement ceremonies at 9 a.m. and the College of Education, Health and Human Services will hold its at 12:30 p.m.
This will be the first commencement for CSUSM President Ellen Neufeldt, who started at the university in July 2019. When commencement was postponed last year, Neufeldt promised the Class of 2020 that CSUSM would celebrate them and their accomplishments as soon as it was deemed safe to do so.
More than 3,000 graduates are expected to attend commencement at Mangrum Track and Field on campus. Each graduate is permitted to bring two guests, and seats within the venue will be separated by 6 feet in keeping with public health guidelines. All attendees must wear a face covering -- mask or face shield -- at all times while on the campus property.
Of the two classes participating in commencement, 57% of the graduates are the first in their families to earn a bachelor's degree, and 32% are the first to attend college. The ages of the graduates range from 19 to 73.
Each of the commencement ceremonies will be streamed live on the CSUSM website and mobile app to allow viewing by family members and friends who aren't able to attend.
CSUSM will award three honorary degrees during commencement:
Daniel J. Epstein, founder of The ConAm Group -- an apartment management firms -- will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters during the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics ceremony.
Robert "Bob" McElroy and Steven P. Wagner will both receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree in the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral and Social Sciences ceremony.
Epstein is a longtime supporter of CSUSM who has made multiple transformational gifts to the university. In recognition of the $1 million gift that the Epstein Family Foundation made to CSUSM's Veterans Center in 2017, the building was renamed the Epstein Family Veterans Center.
McElroy is the founder and president of Alpha Project, an organization with more than three decades of service to people in need. Aiming to break the cycle of homelessness, Alpha Project offers more than two dozen programs throughout San Diego County and beyond, with more than 250 employees who collectively serve in excess of 4,000 people each day.
Wagner is co-founder and president of Stone Brewing Co., one of the biggest craft beer companies in America. He has been an annual supporter of the university's Student Philanthropy Council since its inception in 2011.
WATCH: More Cal State San Marcos graduates revel in the excitement