September 27, 2023

Graduation ceremonies draws cheers, tears

CSU GraduatesThere were excited cheers, loud praises and proud tears as more than 450 students from across the nation and countries as far away as Vietnam walked across the stage to receive their diplomas at the CSU commencement ceremonies on Oct. 21 at The Wharf Conference Center.

Students and their families attended two ceremonies – one in the morning and the other in the afternoon featuring graduate and undergrads, respectively. Speakers at the ceremonies were CSU President Robert Mayes, Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon and Marilyn Hickey, founder and president of Marilyn Hickey Ministries, a non-profit humanitarian organization based in Denver.

The graduation ceremonies were broadcasted live on the Internet and attracted more than 1, 400 viewers throughout the day. Other online graduation buzz included more than 1,600 active users at the CSU Facebook page and activity on CSU’s Twitter feed increased by 47 percent.

Many graduates said they were ecstatic, a little nervous, but mostly excited to attend the graduation and open house.



Ngo Thanh Hai, an MBA graduate from Vietnam, was very excited to visit the U.S. and attend graduation.

“I have always wanted to come here,” said Ngo while at the open house Oct. 20. “Since CSU is an online university, I didn’t think it would be this big. But today, to my surprise, CSU is very good and big and beautiful inside. Not like everyone told me about typical online universities.”

Ami Smith


He was also pleased that his degree from CSU helped him get a better job. “When I got my MBA, I changed jobs and now I work as a senior investment officer for a financial company,” Ngo explained.

Another graduate who spoke about her CSU experience was Ami Smith of Columbus, Ga.

“Without the tremendous support of the faculty and staff of CSU, it would never have been possible for me to be here. They gave me energy and positive motivation to complete my degree online; otherwise, I might have given up. And for that, I am ever grateful,” she said.

Smith, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in health care administration, said, “This was a memorable event to share with my three girls of my hard work and perseverance to never let go of my dreams.”

Carolyn Nation


One of CSU’s oldest students present was 68-year-old Carolyn Nation who wants to use her bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership in her job as a management analyst with the U.S. Army in Huntsville, Ala. Nation, who lost her husband soon after enrolling in December 2010, said, “It has been a struggle, but I have succeeded.” She also indicated that her age was not a factor in her determination to attain a degree. “You are as old as you feel,” she said.

This year’s graduation attracted more than 2,200 graduates and guests. CSU thanks and congratulates all that came and celebrated a wonderful achievement!



  1. Chad Glisson

    I graduated on the 21st, my birthday. What a wonderful day it was for me. At 55 I never dreamed how much graduating would mean to me. I feel that the wonderful suprise of so many in my family showing up (a surprise for me) for the event is what made it so special. CSU not only gave me a sense of pride by being a graduate, but a sense of pride that everyone that attended knew CSU had the integrity that represents the credibility expect from any Universtiy. I was proud of the surprise of all my family being there for me, and the surprise of how CSU represented itself. Thank you!!

  2. Hien Minh Nguyen

    Congratulation! I am so sorry for not attending to our ceremony in US.

    It is so excited when i realize my classmate in above pictures. I hope that i will have chance to visit our university in near future.

    Once again, congratulation for graduation. Wish you happiness, health and success in your life.