Graduate, Professionals ceremony slated

Over 500 earn bachelor's, master's, doctoral degrees

Erica Rivera of Santa Barbara will speak on behalf of those earning graduate degrees. 

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — April 28, 2022) California Lutheran University will hold its 2022 Graduate and Professionals Commencement at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14. It will take place in William Rolland Stadium on the Thousand Oaks campus for the first time since 2019 because the pandemic necessitated a virtual ceremony in 2020 and an off-campus drive-in event in 2021.

The 59th annual ceremony will honor 79 students in the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program, 428 earning master’s degrees and 32 receiving doctorates. A separate ceremony will be held later in the day for traditional undergraduate students receiving bachelor’s degrees. 

Antonio (Tony) Ayala of Santa Rosa Valley will speak on behalf of the Professionals program students. Ayala was born in Ventura, but spent his first eight years in Mexico. He struggled in school after returning to California because he didn’t speak English, but was determined to succeed. He wanted to attend Cal Lutheran after graduating from Hueneme High School, but instead joined the Navy. After 20 years as a construction mechanic with the Port Hueneme-based Seabees deploying to countries around the world to support humanitarian and combat operations, he retired from military service in 2014 to care for his then 13-year-old son, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer. In 2018, with his youngest son in remission, Ayala decided to earn a bachelor’s degree to be a role model for both of his sons. He majored in accounting in the Professionals program while working for the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center in Port Hueneme.

Erica Rivera of Santa Barbara will speak on behalf of those earning graduate degrees. She is receiving a master’s in counseling and pupil personnel services with a specialization in child welfare and attendance. For many years, she worked with diverse students in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, including as a paraeducator for those with moderate to severe disabilities. Noticing the achievement gaps for those with varying abilities, and reflecting on the lack of support she received as a good student dealing with struggles related to her home life and ethnicity, she decided to get a graduate degree to become a stronger advocate for students. She interned as a counselor for several schools, supporting those who were hard of hearing, homeless, in foster care, transgender, multilingual, and dealing with mental health challenges and drug dependency. She wants to use data and collaborate with students, families, staff and community agencies to cultivate systemic change.

Cal Lutheran offers bachelor’s degrees through the Professionals program and graduate degrees through the School of Management, Graduate School of Education and Graduate School of Psychology in Thousand Oaks, Woodland Hills, Westlake Village, Oxnard, Santa Maria, Austria and online. 

For more information, visit or email


  • U.S. Latino economic output tops $3 trillion for the first time
    September 13, 2023

    Latinos in the United States continue to drive the economy forward — as they’ve been doing since the 1500s.

  • Center for Economic Research and Forecasting wins Latino Leadership Award
    July 28, 2023
  • Fellowship makes new voices heard on injustice
    December 19, 2022

    The ASCENSO fellows went inside our local government to study issues confronting Ventura County Latinos.

  • Cal Lutheran Upward Bound gets $3.6M
    June 17, 2022

    The U.S. Department of Education awarded California Lutheran University more than $3.6 million to continue and expand its TRIO Traditional Upward Bound services for high school students in Oxnard, Hawthorne and Lawndale.

  • Graduate, Professionals ceremony slated
    April 28, 2022

    California Lutheran University will hold its 2022 Graduate and Professionals Commencement at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14. 

  • Cal Lutheran gets its largest NSF grant
    March 24, 2022

    California Lutheran University received its largest National Science Foundation grant to date — $307,486 for a biologist and her students to study sexual selection in tiny Brazilian squirrel monkeys.

  • Cal Lutheran receives $1.4M federal grant
    August 18, 2021

    The U.S. Department of Education has awarded California Lutheran University a five-year $1.39 million grant to help lower the high school dropout rate in South Oxnard and increase the number of students who enter and graduate from college.

  • Cal Lutheran starts Spanish media minor
    July 28, 2021

    During the fall semester, California Lutheran University will launch a Spanish media minor — the only one at a private college in Southern California — to help fill the need for bilingual journalists who understand Latino culture.

  • Cal Lutheran selects chief diversity officer
    July 9, 2021

    Cristallea K. Buchanan, the head of inclusion and diversity for American Honda Motor Co., will be the inaugural vice president for talent, culture and diversity for California Lutheran University.

  • State approves bilingual teaching program
    May 5, 2021

    As the result of a rare interdisciplinary collaboration between undergraduate and graduate programs, California Lutheran University has become one of the first institutions in California where undergraduate students can begin earning their bilingual teaching authorization through coursework.