September 22, 2023

2012 commencement draws 3,000

It was a beautiful day for a graduation.

More than 500 excited graduates and their guests celebrated a memorable day of achievement on Oct. 19 as CSU conducted commencement ceremonies in Orange Beach, Ala.

Among them was Department of Defense firefighter Erik Demotta, who graduated with a master’s in emergency management. He attended with family members including his mother Trina, who traveled from Demotta’s native Hawaii.

“I love it, this is really good,” he said with a wide smile. Demotta also completed his associate and bachelor’s degree in fire science with CSU. “Finally met my goals, and without Columbia Southern University, I don’t think those goals could have been met.”

Other graduates who met their goals hailed from 40 states and several countries, including a small contingent from Vietnam.

“The graduation ceremony is a good milestone in my education path, giving me pride of being granted a master’s degree from the U.S.,” said Hung Nguyen, who traveled from Vietnam to be a part of the ceremony. “The graduation was well-organized and the graduates were under good, detailed care, which is highly appreciated by oversea participants.”

Speakers included CSU President Robert Mayes, Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon, Alabama State Rep. Steve McMillian and State Sen. Tripp Pittman. Keynote speaker Andy Andrews, a New York Times best-selling author, delivered a speech peppered with wit and insight. He inspired graduates to be unique and know that the difference they make can affect many across the globe.

“Andy delivered a funny and meaningful message that touched many,” said Cecile Nelson, director of Special Programs at CSU and lead organizer of the graduation events. “We were very excited by all the graduates that came here to celebrate this lifetime achievement.”

The day before graduation, many attended the open house at the CSU building where they met faculty and staff, snacked on refreshments and connected with fellow grads. Tours of the facility were offered throughout the day and various groups, including the CSU Alumni Association, introduced themselves to grads.

CSU’s social media network saw huge increase in activity during the graduation as we reached more 6,000 people each day on Facebook and tripled the number of daily tweets on Twitter.