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CSULA celebrates its honor students

Noelia Rodríguez returns to alma mater to keynote annual Honors Convocation

Excerpts from
Noelia Rodríguez’s
keynote speech:

“If I can make it to the White House from Cal State L.A. as the press secretary to the First Lady, one of you can make it to the White House as perhaps a president of our country, or a cabinet secretary, or somebody who is advising the president… That’s what you can do if you set your mind to it.

You also have to have the confidence to do one thing: make mistakes. If you don’t have the confidence to make mistakes, then you are going to limit your level of success, because by making mistakes you learn to be a better person, a better professional and a better family member.

One of my favorite quotes in life is by Eleanore Roosevelt, who said: ‘You must do the things you think you cannot do.’ In my case, I am proud that I did the things that others didn’t think that I can do. The First Lady also said: ‘Do one thing every day that scares you.’ Well, speaking to you today is my ‘one thing’ today. Why? Because you inspire me. I am heartened that thanks to you and your accomplishments and your potential, our nation is in good hands.

But there is also something that we share…. empathy for other people. Because of that empathy, you are Cal State L.A.’s best and the brightest. You’ve overcome obstacles to make it to this day, and now you have a new responsibility. You must become a mentor to those who follow you… You are a role model.”

With formal time-honored tradition, more than 4,700 students at Cal State L.A. were recognized for their academic achievements at the University’s 51st Honors Convocation last week.

Pictured at center stage: Noelia Rodríguez.
Cal State L.A. alumna Noelia Rodríguez ('86) is the keynote speaker at the University's 2012 Honors Convocation.

Attended by family and friends, along with University faculty, staff and admini-
strators, the program honored Dean’s List students and recipients of scholarships and grants. In addition, 360 freshmen who began their studies at the University with 3.5 GPA or higher as well as the inaugural class of the Honors College were acknowledged during the festive ceremony.

Offering personal anecdotes and motivational insights, Noelia Rodríguez, past director of the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, delivered this year’s keynote speech. The Forum is Harvard’s premier venue for political speech, debate and major addresses by world leaders, heads of state and elected officials.

“Like many of you, I was not a traditional student. Here, I learned another way. Like you, I had my challenges. Like you, I met them. Together, we conquered them and we are stronger because of them,” said Rodríguez during the address. “Most of us are not born with silver spoons in our mouths. We have something better: skills to survive, the desire to achieve, the brains to learn, the curiosity to persevere.”

Rodríguez earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cal State L.A., and did graduate work in communications at the University of La Verne. She has extensive experience in strategic and crisis communications, media and public relations, public affairs, and management in the private and public sectors.

In January 2001, she was recruited by Laura Bush to be her press secretary and director of communications for the First Lady at The White House, a post she held for the first 1,000 days of President George W. Bush’s administration. As senior communications advisor, she traveled around the world with the President and Mrs. Bush, spanning 30 countries and five continents.

“Noelia Rodríguez, who launched her dynamic career from this very campus, was indeed a wonderful inspiration for CSULA’s high-achieving students who were feted at this year’s Honors Convocation,” said Ashish Vaidya, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Cal State L.A. “She shared her experience and insights with candor, warmth and humor, which really connected with all those in attendance.”

Picture of some Dean’s List students being recognized at the 2012 Honors Convocation. Picture of CSULA student honorees marching to their seats during the 2012 Honors Convocation processional. Picture of two CSULA student honorees looking for their family and friends in the audience during the 2012 Honors Convocation.

Picture of sisters Lorraine and Lillian Tsui at the 2012 Honors Convocation. Picture of CSULA faculty members entering the Eagles Nest Gym during the Honors Convocation opening ceremony. Pictured: (l-r) CSULA President James M. Rosser, keynote speaker Noelia Rodríguez, and College of Business and Economics Dean James Goodrich at the 2012 Honors Convocation.

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Last Update: 01/12/2016