The early post-collegiate years are a time of unbridled freedom: no more tests, no more papers to write, no more demanding professors. Yet this freedom can be tinged with apprehension and the fear of failure. As the 2018 graduates set out to forge their paths in the world, we asked some CSU alumni to offer words of wisdom and encouragement to help prepare them for the journey.

"Never Stop Learning"

"During and after a graduation, there can be so many emotions, ranging from excitement to worry about entering the 'real world.' My suggestion for new graduates is to never stop learning. Too many people think that college is the end of education, and that is completely wrong. Create habits in your life so that you are learning more and more on a daily basis. Avoid useless news and instead read books and listen to podcasts from industry experts. Life is going to be way more challenging than you think — it's really competitive. You can separate yourself from the pack by continuing to grow your skillset. As you progress and grow your skillset, you will eventually discover something called 'momentum,' and once you have it, you can't be stopped." —Luke Peters, B.S., Microbiology, CSU Long Beach.

Peters is the Founder and CEO of NewAir, a company that manufactures and sells compact home appliances. 

"Claim Your Greatness"

"Do not wait for someone to show you your worth. You are worthy of greatness, so go out and claim it. Find your own voice in whatever you do and stand out from the rest by being you. Let people know your name because you continue to learn and you model kindness. Go out of your way to talk to various people, from the custodian to the CEO. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want and to advocate for yourself. And always give credit to those whose hard work came before you, that led to your success, and in the future, the same will be done for you."

— Angela Torres, B.A., Mathematics, and M.A., Education, San Francisco State

In her ongoing work for the San Francisco Unified School District, Torres has helped reform the teaching and learning of mathematics. 

"Don't Be Afraid to Change Jobs"

"As Calvin Coolidge said, 'Nothing takes the place of persistence.' Find your passion. Don't be afraid to try different pursuits until you find something that you can be excited about every day. You will not excel at a career that doesn't interest you. Also, don't be afraid to change jobs as you search for the right fit. Just don't burden yourself with debt. Big car payments, an expensive rent payment, or credit card debt can force you to maintain an unhappy job situation because you can't afford to make a change. Live within your means and maintain the flexibility to make a change if you have to."

—Vince LaRuffa, M.A., Hospitality and Tourism, San Diego State

LaRuffa is Senior Vice President-Resort Marketing at the Universal Orlando Resort. 

"What You've Learned Will Resonate for Years to Come"

"What you've learned is not only for now but will resonate throughout your life and present itself in the future ways you never imagined. The words of my Cal State faculty were profound, if not a bit inscrutable, at the time. There was so much to learn and so much solid technique I was gaining, but my young mind was unable to process all that was happening. However, with each passing year I have another 'Aha' moment where the words of my Cal State professors echo in my head as I make my way through my career. Accept that somewhere in the back of your brain you've gained something profound that you may not be consciously aware of." —Don K. Williams, B.A., Theatre Arts, Fresno State 

Williams is the Artistic Director of the Art of Acting Studio in Los Angeles.

"Find a Mentor"

"Do not settle! Pick a career path where your talents and passions shine brightly. This will ensure that when times get difficult -- and they will -- you will push through and work out the challenges. You also need to seek out a mentor. This person does not have to be someone who works with you. It should be someone whose professional life you admire and who is interested in assisting you in reaching your goals and aspirations." — Ivy A.M. Cargile, BA, Criminal Justice, CSU Fullerton

Dr. Cargile went on to earn a a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University and is an assistant professor of political science at CSU Bakersfield. Her research interests are in American political behavior.

"Stay Open-Minded"

"Stay open-minded, keep learning, and realize that college is for just one phase of a very long life. You never know where your career is going to take you or who is going to become that important person in your professional life. Stay open-minded and give whatever you are doing currently your best self. No matter what it is what you are doing, give it your all because there is so much to learn." — Samia Yaqub, M.A., English, Chico State

Dr. Yaqub went on to earn a Ph.D. from Oregon State and is now the Superintendent/President of the Butte-Glenn Community College District in Oroville, California.

Meet more of the CSU's more than three million remarkable alumni at "Made In the CSU."