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Commencement 2009


Commencement Speaker| Student Speakers

Commencement Speaker

Pop Culture Renaissance Man

Henry RollinsIf Henry Rollins were a question on a multiple choice quiz, the correct answer would be “D. All of the above.” Best know to some as the frenetic front man for Southern California punk rock band Black Flag from 1981 to 1986 until the band dissolved and Henry formed Rollins Band. Rollins Band performed at the 37th Annual Grammy Awards and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance that same year for the song “Liar.” The band toured relentlessly and by 1998 Rollins felt that the relationship with the band had run its course, and the line-up disbanded.

Beyond taking the stage as a musician, Henry does speaking engagements all over the world. Rollins has become an outspoken human rights activist and frequently speaks out on social justice on his spoken word tours and promotes equality. Rollins was named 1994’s “Man of the Year” by the American men’s magazine Details and became a contributing columnist to the magazine.

During the 2003 Iraq War, he started touring with the United Service Organizations to entertain troops overseas while remaining against the war. In January 2007 Henry filmed a documentary special, “Henry Rollins: Uncut from Israel”. In the documentary Henry discussed his work with the USO, the current political situation in the Middle East, and directly related it to the audience in Israel.

Henry is not one to confine his performances strictly to the stage. Henry’s own publishing company and record label continues to be an outlet for his work and his passion. His reading of Get in the Van earned him a Grammy Award in 1994 for Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Album.

In 2004, Rollins began hosting a weekly radio show, Harmony in My Head on Los Angeles’ Indie 103.1 radio. The show often emphasizes B-sides, with Rollins playing a variety of music. As of 2008, the show continues each week despite Rollins’ constant touring with new pre-recorded shows between live broadcasts.

Henry Rollins is an actor and an author. He’s a businessman and a philanthropist. He’s a Grammy nominated singer and a Grammy winning spoken word artist. He’s a USO veteran, world traveler and a radio show host. And above all else he is a tireless performer, averaging more than 100 shows a year for twenty five years.

Read a transcript of Henry Rollins' Commencement Address at Sonoma State University.

Student Speakers

B.A. Sociology
B.A. American Multicultural Studies

Sterling JonesSterling Nicholaus Jones grew up with his mother and sister in Inglewood, California, a small urban city bordering the southwest boundary of Los Angeles.

Although financial stability did not always exist, his mother maintained an encouraging and loving household, in which his sister and he could blossom. In addition, while Sterling’s father did not live with him, he was and has always been a large part of his life – from coaching, to mentoring, to supporting his college education.

Sterling had a difficult time adapting to this area because of the drastic difference from his hometown, in terms of climate, demographics, and population size. Yet, he truly believes this experience has made him stronger, and increased his ability to maneuver through the professional world.

In consideration to his loved ones, Sterling would like to give a special thanks to his mother Lori Jones, his father Sterling Jermond Jones, his sister Jasmyne Jones, his mentors, coaches, close friends, and family members; without those people, he may not be here graduating from SSU today.

B.A. Environmental Studies and Planning

Adam WilliamsAdam Williams grew up in the St. George – Sheepscot River Watershed in Brunswick, Maine where he earned his diploma from Brunswick High School in 2003. As a graduate of the Environmental Studies and Planning (ENSP) department, Adam would ultimately like to apply the insight he gained on his educational path to increase ecological literacy on a community based level, empowering individuals to effect collaborative change in environmental policy by fostering respectful and regenerative relationships with the natural world.

Adam plans on contributing his experiences in restoration ecology and conservation biology to environmentally based projects as a volunteer for the Peace Corps in Latin America. Before Adam embarks on a six month apprenticeship with the Regenerative Design Institute (Bolinas, Calif.), he will pass the warm summer months traveling the state from one music festival to the next, backpacking the John Muir Trail and honing his gardening skills. Adam’s best memories of college have been the countless opportunities he has had to gain the perspective of professors from all walks of life, picking their brains and challenging their theories and he feels indebted to all those that always lent an open ear, heart and mind.