Fresno State celebrates Centennial Commencement

FRESNO, Calif.

Friday morning, a group of 2011 Fresno State graduates will walked across the stage at the Save Mart Center. The 9:30 a.m. graduation for the Craig School Of Business kicked off a weekend of ceremonies and celebrations. This year it was made all the more special by the school's centennial.

Trying on her cap and gown is something Jessica Najarain has been looking forward to for five years. "I'm the first woman in my family to graduate so that's exciting and I'm just excited to be done with school. I mean, it was a long time and it's going to be nice to have a real job."

But that job could be hard to find for a new grad. With a country battling back from an economic recession. The National Association of Colleges and Employers says only half of those graduating college will find jobs.

"I figured if I don't find a job, I'm going to go back to school. I really want an MBA so that's my plan if I can't find a job," said Najarain.

For now, she's putting that worry aside because this year she and her fellow graduates, like J.R. Payne, are part of something even bigger.

"I think it's kidna cool to be a part of the centennial class," said Payne.

This weekend's Centennial Commencement caps off an entire year of celebrations and ceremonies at Fresno State, marking the university's 100th year anniversary -- including Thursday's proclamation from Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin -- a graduate herself.

University administrators say the excitement is contagious. "We're finding that our students are signing up to participate in commencement in record numbers this year. Because they want to part of what it marks. I mean, every commencement is special but 100 years is a special milestone," said Dr. William Covino, Provost/VP for Academic Affairs.

To accommodate all those students organizers say they have changed the seating arrangement for graduates. They surrounded the platform 360-degrees so everyone who wants to can participate.

One of the university's special guests at Saturday's Centennial Commencement: the great-granddaughter of the university's original president.

A gorgeous 300-page coffee table book "A Century Of Excellence 1911-2011" is available for purchase at the Kennel Bookstore for $49.95 -- a great gift for graduates.

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