My mom and I both graduated from CSU Long Beach. My wife went to CSU Fullerton. Our sons Doug and Matt went to Fullerton and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

I think it’s safe to say we are a CSU family!

It all started with my mom, Elsie. She married young and was a mother of three by the time she was 22. Of course this isn’t common anymore, but in the 1950s it was the norm. For many years, raising three kids was her full-time job.

But I remember sometime in the mid 60s she declared she was going to go get a college education. Our family was surprised by this sudden announcement, but we were supportive—after years of devoting her life to our family, she was able to “get out” and be exposed to a whole new world of people and ideas. And let me tell you, there was no better place for this than a college campus in the late 60s.

Tony's mother, Elsie 

Tony’s mother, Elsie

She would come home from classes and tell us these fantastic stories about anti-war protesters clashing with Vietnam vets, the Black Panthers, Cesar Chavez speaking for the United Farm Workers, Hare Krishna members dancing and chanting, and a thriving feminism movement. It was quite an exciting time to be a college student.

She graduated in 1970 and has had nothing but high praise for her professors and the quality education she received at Long Beach. Because of her experience, there was really no discussion on where I wanted to go to college.

I followed in her footsteps and graduated from Long Beach in 1977. I got some great hands-on experience as a staff photographer and photo editor at the Daily 49’er campus newspaper, and after graduation I became a successful professional photographer. I’ve also found the time to be active in my community and served as an elected member of Tustin’s city council from 2000-08 and as its mayor in 2004.

Although they didn’t go to Long Beach, my own family followed in our CSU footsteps.

My wife Ellen graduated from CSU Fullerton with a degree in liberal studies and it provided her with a well-rounded education and ability to communicate in the business world.

My son Matt graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2013 with a degree in city and regional planning. He loved the campus community there and had a great experience. His hard work paid off and Matt found employment in his area of study within three months of graduating.

Our other son Doug will graduate from CSU Fullerton next spring. Doug recently spent a year studying in Upsala, Sweden through the CSU’s study abroad program. The international experience made him more aware of the world we live in and now he has life-long friends from all over the globe.

I always am grateful for the education and training I received at CSU Long Beach, it gave me the foundation to succeed in the working world. I am also thankful for the practical education my sons received in the CSU. Although they were accepted to many other colleges including private institutions, they chose the best programs in their fields of study, located in campus communities where they felt at home and could thrive. I don’t think it’s a coincidence they were at CSUs. I couldn’t be more proud.