Cecilia MuñCecilia Muñoz Pictureoz will be the keynote speaker at CSU Monterey Bay’s 18th commencement ceremony.

Cecilia Muñoz is the Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, which coordinates the domestic policy-making process in the White House.

Prior to this role, she served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs where she oversaw the Obama Administration’s relationships with state and local governments.

Before joining the Obama Administration, Cecilia served as Senior Vice President for the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization. She supervised NCLR’s policy staff covering a variety of issues of importance to Latinos, including civil rights, employment, poverty, farmworker issues, education, health, housing, and immigration. Her particular area of expertise is immigration policy, which she covered at NCLR for twenty years.

Ms. Muñoz has testified numerous times before Congress and appears regularly in the Spanish- and English-language media. Her media credits include the Today Show, Good Morning America, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Dateline NBC, O’Reilly Factor, CNN’s Situation Room, and National Public Radio.

Ms. Muñoz is the former Chair of the Board of Center for Community Change, and served on the U.S. Programs Board of the Open Society Institute and the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Philanthropies and the National Immigration Forum.

Ms. Muñoz is the daughter of immigrants from Bolivia and was born in Detroit, Michigan. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and her master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley. In June 2000, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in recognition of her work on immigration and civil rights. In 2007, she served as the Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. She has received numerous other awards and recognitions from various sources, including the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and a variety of local non-profit organizations.

Aquarium director Julie Packard to receive honorary degree

Julie PackardJulie Packard, founding director of the non-profit Monterey Bay Aquarium, will be awarded an honorary doctoral degree at the ceremony.

Ms. Packard and the aquarium have become a force for advancing ocean conservation worldwide through the aquarium’s exhibits and programs, and its work in scientific research, education and public policy.

Ms. Packard chairs the board of the independent Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and serves on the boards of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and The California Nature Conservancy.

She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was named a California Coastal Hero by the California Coastal Commission and has received the Audubon Medal for Conservation. Ms. Packard also served as a member of the Pew Oceans Commission, which published a blueprint for improving governance of America’s ocean waters, and in 2013, was appointed to California’s Parks Forward Commission to help develop a sustainable path for California’s state parks.

Student speaker – Alijah Jade Marquez

Alijah Jade MarquezFrom her parents, Alijah Marquez acquired a passion for education and a commitment to one’s work. Those traits have benefitted her fellow students at CSU Monterey Bay.

After four years, she leaves a campus that’s in some ways better than she found it.

Marquez spent two years as a POWER – Promoting Otter Wellness Through Education and Resources – peer educator and a member of the university’s Student Health Advisory Committee. Both volunteer positions provided her “the opportunity to work with my peers and faculty members to create an immediate and positive change within our community,” she said.

As a peer educator, she helped to develop and co-facilitate education and outreach efforts related to reproductive health, nutrition, alcohol and other drug education, tobacco cessation, sexual assault prevention, mental health promotion and suicide prevention. An internship at Planned Parenthood allowed her to use the skills she acquired through her work on campus.

“Through my leadership positions, I have gained the tools necessary to empower my peers to express who they are while caring for their mental and physical well-being,” Marquez said.

At CSUMB, she earned a degree in Collaborative Health and Human Services, with a concentration in community health. She hopes to work as a health educator at nonprofit organizations that endeavor to empower people and teach the tools necessary for a vivacious and healthy lifestyle.