Distinguished Alumna Dr. Denise Noldon Delivers Inspirational Commencement Address

Dr. Denise Noldon, Interim President of Los Angeles Southwest College, who was named the 2017 College of Education Distinguished Alumna at the CSULB Alumni Awards Banquet on March 4th, 2017, delivered an inspirational speech to 100s of graduates and their families at the College of Education commencement on May 23rd, 2017.

Dr. Noldon received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Black Studies from CSULB in 1977 and her Master of Science, Counseling in Higher Education from CSULB 1991. In 1998, she went on to earn her Doctor of Philosophy degree in College Student Personnel Administration from University of Maryland at College Park — due in large part to the encouragement and support of a CSULB Student Development in Higher Education faculty member, the late Dr. Cynthia Senn Johnson. 

Known as “a dynamic leader with a heart for student success,” Dr. Noldon has used her platform as a leader in public higher education to improve the lives of thousands of college students and community members over the course of her remarkable career. In her current role as interim president of Los Angeles Southwest College, Dr. Noldon provides executive leadership — with an emphasis on academic programs, campus budgets, enrollment management, human resources, and facilities — for the entire campus. Previously, the Berkeley native provided statewide leadership and technical assistance as interim vice chancellor for student services and special programs for the California Community Colleges. Dr. Noldon was also the former president of Contra Costa College and vice president of student development and enrollment management at Folsom Lake College. 

Dr. Noldon is grateful for the mentoring she received and friendships she built at The Beach, particularly that of Dr. Cynthia Johnson who had a “dogged belief that I had what it took to be a successful doctoral student.” As an employee of CSULB, Noldon served as an Equal Opportunity Program (EOP) counselor and Director of the Upward Bound program. Her involvement with EOP continues to this day: she gave keynote address to the EOP graduating class of 2015 and also moderated a panel for the program’s fiftieth anniversary in 2016. 

This year, Dr. Noldon addressed the College’s graduating class at the 2017 commencement ceremony, stating “As I reflect on what I have accomplished as a professional educator, I am reminded of a quote that is said to be attributed to Fannie Lou Hamer, the great civil rights activist: ‘There are two things we should always remember: never forget where you came from and always remember the bridges that carried you over.’ This institution continues to be my bridge and I want to thank you so much for this honor.”