HSU and CR Commencement Ceremonies This Weekend; HSU to Honor Yurok Spiritual Leader

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HSU to have socially distanced, in-person graduation this year. - FILE
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  • HSU to have socially distanced, in-person graduation this year.
Congratulations to all Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods graduates! The schools will be celebrating their graduates at this weekend's commencement ceremonies both in-person and virtually.

Although CR's in-person graduation ceremony was canceled due to COVID-19, the college has opted to hold a virtual ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday via Facebook Watch and its website, www.redwoods.edu. 

“On behalf of the College of the Redwoods administration, faculty and staff, please accept our congratulations on your academic achievement during your time here at CR,” said CR President Keith Flamer in a message to graduates. “We know this year has been unusually challenging and we commend all of you for persevering and reaching your goals. I am sorry that we cannot celebrate in person again this spring. I know that we will be together in person next year.”

Following county and state COVID-19 regulations, HSU will be holding four commencement ceremonies for 2020 and 2021 graduates over the course of two days, starting with an All Colleges Ceremony tomorrow at 4 p.m. in the Redwood Bowl.

On Saturday, HSU will hold its pre-pandemic commencement ceremony schedule of three ceremonies for each of the colleges beginning with the College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at 9 a.m., followed by the College of Natural Resources and Sciences at 12:30 and ending with the College of Professional Studies at 4 p.m.

The school will also be enforcing face coverings and 6 feet of physical distancing guidelines for attendees and participating graduates.

The events will also be live-streamed, and links to the live stream will be available on the Commencement website and HSU homepage.

HSU will also bestow an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Walter James Lara, Sr., a respected spiritual leader and wisdom keeper of the Yurok Tribe who is recognized as a Native cultural and political luminary among Tribal nations throughout California, during the College of Professional Studies commencement ceremony on Saturday.

“I will always be thankful for the choices that Walt, and others like him made to hold on to and outspokenly protect the ceremonial places, the Yurok values and expertise in so many areas of Yurok life and ceremony,” says Jim McQuillen, education director for the Yurok Tribe. “I am even more grateful for his tireless efforts to pass on the knowledge that he learned from his elders and how he continues to teach, share, and work with the next generations.”

Read all press releases below.



College of the Redwoods will present online graduation ceremony May 15

College of the Redwoods will present an online graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 15 at 11:00 am to honor the 556 students who will complete their degree and certificate programs this spring. The in-person commencement ceremony has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The CR 2021 Valedictorian is Jesse Ryno, who is graduating with a Digital Media A.S. degree. The Salutatorian is Katie Fisher, graduating with a Liberal Arts: Humanities, Language, and Communication A.A. degree and a Liberal Arts: Mathematics A.A. degree. They both have 4.0 grade point averages.

“On behalf of the College of the Redwoods administration, faculty and staff, please accept our congratulations on your academic achievement during your time here at CR,” said CR President Keith Flamer, in a message to graduates. “We know this year has been unusually challenging and we commend all of you for persevering and reaching your goals. I am sorry that we cannot celebrate in-person again this spring. I know that we will be together in-person next year.”

The video will premiere via Facebook Watch and on Redwoods.edu on May 15 at 11:00 am.

Commencement 2021: Respected Spiritual Leader of Yurok Tribe to be Awarded Honorary Doctorate
Humboldt State University will confer an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to Walter James Lara, Sr. at a May 15 Commencement Ceremony.

Lara is a respected spiritual leader and wisdom keeper of the Yurok Tribal people and recognized as a Native cultural and political luminary among Tribal Nations throughout the State of California.

“I will always be thankful for the choices that Walt, and others like him made to hold on to and outspokenly protect the ceremonial places, the Yurok values and expertise in so many areas of Yurok life and ceremony,” says Jim McQuillen, Education Director, Yurok Tribe. “I am even more grateful for his tireless efforts to pass on the knowledge that he learned from his elders and how he continues to teach, share, and work with the next generations.”

Lara has invested in establishing and nurturing partnerships with HSU. As a forester for the Yurok Tribe, he and his team guest-lectured in the Department of Forestry & Wildland Resources for several years. In addition, he has guest-lectured in the Art department on Native American Art of the North Coast; the Native American Studies department on Environmental Justice; and the Child Development department on Policy and Advocacy.

Lara is actively involved in student-led activities on campus such as American Indian College Motivation Day, California Indian Big Time & Social Gathering, Indigenous People’s Week, and events sponsored by Indian Natural Resource Science & Engineering Program and Indian Tribal & Educational Personnel Program. He is an advocate of higher education and his children have acquired five degrees from HSU. He is currently mentoring HSU students on the production of a video that highlights Indigenous knowledge.

“Dr. Lara’s contributions to the Yurok Tribe, the surrounding community, and Humboldt State University epitomize meaningful and life-long service,” says Jenn Capps, HSU Provost & Vice President of Academic Affairs. “Recognition of Dr. Lara and the conferral of this degree are well deserved and long overdue.”

Further, with the support of the Child Development department and the Yurok Tribe, he is co-coordinating a Ka’m-t’em: Next Steps for K-12 Educators Course for 80 local teachers in Humboldt and Del Norte County. In doing so, he has assisted HSU in its vision to “commit to increasing our diversity of people and perspectives” and to “be exemplary partners with our communities, including Tribal Nations.”

“Mr. Lara’s work for Indigenous revitalization through, research, practice, and education have influenced at least two subsequent generations of educators and scholars throughout California,” says Victor Bjelajac, District Superintendent, California State Parks/NorthCoast Redwoods. “Mr. Lara’s reach has extended across the nation and the world, with special emphasis across Indigenous ancestral lands on the North Coast of California.”

Lara will receive a Doctorate of Humane Letters during the College of Professional Studies ceremony on Saturday, May 15 at 4 p.m. Past Honorary Degree recipients.

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