NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - A total of 58 current and former CSUN student-athletes have graduated throughout the 2013-14 academic calendar and the CSUN Athletic Department held its Senior Sash Ceremony Friday afternoon. The Matadors received their sashes to don in addition to the traditional cap and gown as spring commencement quickly approaches.
Among those who addressed the group were CSUN Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Brandon E. Martin and CSUN Faculty Athletics Representative Dr. Tina Kiesler. Melissa Doll of the women's water polo program spoke on behalf of the class.
"Today represents the culmination of the many sacrifices, dedication and unwavering commitment that our seniors have demonstrated while being student-athletes at CSUN," Dr. Martin said. "All our student-athletes have left an indelible print on this university and have changed lives on campus and in the local community through sport."
The ceremony concluded with each graduate receiving a rose to place at the base of the Matador Statue on campus.
"This is already one of my favorite events of the year, but to be here this year and see the students who were here my first year as FAR come in as freshman and now leave as graduates is one of the most exciting things for me," Dr. Kiesler said.
CSUN women's volleyball head coach Jeff Stork was equally proud to see his group of three graduates (Natlie Allen, Britney Graf and Cindy Ortiz) reach the milestone.
"All three have been cornerstones in our program and all three have been outstanding students," Stork said. "Britney and Natalie came from the same club team and it was that generation of players who gave a different direction to this program. As players, they guided the team in new and exciting directions."
Another CSUN head coach, men's soccer's Terry Davila, credited Chris Smith, a 2014 graduate in Mechanical Engineering, for sticking with the program during its rougher times by helping to lead CSUN to NCAA Tournament appearances the past two seasons.
"Chris was here during one of our lowest points and he was one of the main contributors in bringing the program back to prominence," Davila said. "Both in the classroom and on the field, his leadership is something that is everlasting in our program."
The 2014 class is the first CSUN class to be admitted into the M Club, a new initiative of CSUN Athletics for former Matador student-athletes. Members of the M Club receive benefits at CSUN Athletic events and other perks to help keep them connected with CSUN.
"It is somewhat bittersweet because I am excited to graduate, but I am also sad to leave," CSUN women's basketball and softball student-athlete Mikayla Thielges said. "I've been through great times and rough times here and it is hard to let go of something that has almost been a sanctuary. CSUN is on such an upward trajectory that I can't wait to see where it is going and can't wait to be a part of it."
Thielges is headed to Weber State in the fall to begin her graduate studies. Another Matador graduate, men's basketball's Josh Greene, is also hitting road shortly after commencement. He has been selected to compete with Team USA and other collegiate players in an upcoming tour of China.
"It was an unforgettable ride and I was blessed to have been a part of this university and to play basketball here," Greene said. "I got invited to play in China with Team USA for a couple of weeks. It is a great opportunity and I am looking forward to going out there to represent."
Dr. Martin concluded the ceremony with wishes of success and prosperity for all the graduates:
"Even though they will not be here with us as members of our teams, their legacy will always hold a special place in our hearts."
Women's Basketball (5)
Violet Alama -- Kinesiology
Jianni Jackson -- Public Health Promotion
Cinnamon Lister -- Communication Studies
Mikayla Thielges -- Kinesiology
Haley White -- Language Diversity
Women's Golf (1)
Clariss Guce -- Kinesiology/Exercise Science
Women's Soccer (5)
Haley Chee -- Finance
Melissa Fernandez -- Kinesiology
Stephanie Galarze -- Liberal Studies
Chloe McDaniel -- Kinesiology
Amanda Smith -- Biology
Alexa Limon -- Kinesiology
Tiffini Luceron -- Geography
Mikayla Thielges -- Sociology
Jennifer Tyler -- Anthropology
Women's Tennis (4)
Lorraine Cheung -- Accounting
Jutte Collett -- Communication Studies
Ryma Korab -- Biochemistry
Anna Yang -- Public Health Promotion
Women's Cross Country/Track & Field (8)
Fany Alvarado -- Kinesiology/Exercise Science
Brianna Davis -- Psychology
Brieonna Jackson -- Sociology
Hafatsu Kamara -- Kinesiology
Jealinda Mills -- Communication Studies
Alexis Pichardo -- Journalism
Brianna Tucker -- Philosophy
Tiana Webberley -- Applied Fitness
Women's Volleyball (3)
Natalie Allen -- Mathematics
Britney Graf -- Kinesiology
Cindy Ortiz -- Kinesiology
Women's Water Polo (6)
Kiernan Davis -- Liberal Studies
Melissa Doll -- Mathematics
Lindsy Duncan -- Kinesiology
Hayley Gurriell -- Sociology
Molly Henehan -- Sociology
Jenny Jamison -- Psychology
Kyle Attl -- Communication Studies
Shay Maltese -- Information Systems
Nate Ring -- Finance
Bryce Rutherford -- Liberal Studies
Cal Vogelsang -- Sociology
Men's Basketball (3)
Josh Greene -- Recreation & Tourism Management
Stephan Hicks -- Recreation & Tourism Management
JJ Thomas -- Communication Studies
Men's Cross Country/Track & Field (8)
Jose Aviles -- Management
Oscar Juarez -- Crimonology
Dawaun Lucas -- Marketing
Julio Mora -- Health Administration
Jory Rucker -- Crimonology
Derion Taylor -- Cinema & Television Arts-Screenwriting
Robert Thomas -- Communication Studies
Tucker Weathers -- Kinesiology
Men's Golf (3)
Oscar Sachs -- Communication Studies
Nick Sarian -- Sociology
Kyle Sauer -- Economics
Men's Soccer (1)
Chris Smith -- Mechanical Engineering
Men's Swimming (1)
Jordan Harris -- Public Health Promotion
Men's Volleyball (2)
Charlie Condron -- Management
Drew Staker -- Kinesiology
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