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UCI Caps Dreams for Thousands

School gives diplomas to a record 5,042. One woman, the youngest of 10 children, graduated cum laude in three years.

June 15, 2003|Stanley Allison | Times Staff Writer

For each family, it came down to one moment at UC Irvine's commencement on Saturday.

Amid balloons and banners telling graduates "You did it!" "We love you," "We're proud of you," their loved ones waited to hear that one name. When it came, it was met with an eruption of whistles, cheers and air horns to celebrate the successful end of years of hard work.

One of the graduates, Maribel Valdovinos, has dreamed of working in social services with children, she said. And now, the youngest of Silvester and Susana Valdovinos' 10 children is on her way.

Valdovinos, 21, plowed through the requirements of her major of criminology, law and society in three years.

She did it by taking some classes in high school, attending summer sessions at UCI and taking 16 units a semester. She graduated cum laude. "I didn't hold a job so I could dedicate myself to school," she said.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday June 18, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 46 words Type of Material: Correction
UC Irvine graduation -- An article in some editions of Sunday's California section about graduation ceremonies at UC Irvine incorrectly identified one of the graduating classes as being from the School of Information and Department of Information. It was the School of Information and Computer Science.

Dedicated is how her father, a native of Ixtapa, Mexico, and now an American citizen, describes his daughter. "She's a good daughter," he said. "Very studious, and a good daughter at home."

UCI handed out a record 5,042 degrees Saturday, almost 10% more than at last year's ceremonies. Chancellor Ralph Cicerone provided the welcoming address and presented degrees at the six commencement ceremonies held Saturday.

Under a bright sun in Aldrich Park in the center of the sprawling campus, the landscape blossomed with balloons, banners, signs, video and still cameras for the School of Social Ecology and Henry Samueli School of Engineering commencement.

A plane towed a banner: "We love U, Rosie. You're in our hearts. U make us proud. Jennie, Lupe, Juan."

After Lucia Cusenza, 21, received her bachelor's degree in psychology and social behavior, her father, James Cusenza, took 30 friends and family members to a Newport Beach Moroccan restaurant for a feast. He said the day was especially meaningful because his daughter lost her mother to cancer two years ago.

"She grew up," Cusenza said, "from a child who needed to be taken care of to someone determined to make it. No matter what, she was going to do it and do it well."

The graduate said she will travel in Europe, then look for work in children's entertainment.

As the commencement at the School of Social Ecology and Henry Samueli School of Engineering was winding down in the park, the commencement for the School of Physical Sciences, School of Information and Department of Information was getting underway in the Bren Events Center.

The School of Biological Sciences held its commencement at 1 p.m. in the park, followed by the School of Humanities and the Claire Trevor School of the Arts in the Bren Center, the School of Social Sciences in Aldrich at 5 p.m. and the Graduate School of Management at 7 p.m. in the Bren Center.

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