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First Marymount B.A. grads urged to ‘pursue your dreams’

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Marcos Topolos said attending Marymount College was the “best thing that could have ever happened” to him.For two years before enrolling at the Rancho Palo Verdes college, he played soccer at California State University, Bakersfield, where he practiced an average of six hours a day.

But very deep inside he knew he had to “be in business.” Enrolled in a business major, that is.

Topolos’ dream became true when he got a call from Ben Graham, a former Cal State Bakersfield assistant coach. He had moved to Marymount, where he was about to start a soccer team and he wanted the young athlete from Sonoma Valley to support his program.

Two years later, Topolos was not only enrolled at Marymount, but he became the student body president and the president of the college’s National Society of Leadership and Success.

He was among the first group of 49 bachelor of arts graduates in Marymount’s history, celebrated with a May 12 commencement ceremony that drew a record attendance of 1,500 and ended with a surprise announcement by Dr. Michael Brophy, Marymount president, of free college-sponsored graduate-level internship and coursework for up to 12 units of graduate study.

During the two-hour ceremony, more than 110 students received their associate degrees as well, and keynote speaker Tommy Lasorda, L.A. Dodgers’ senior vice president, was awarded an honorary doctorate degree. 

“There are three types of people,” Lasorda told the students. “Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.”

He stressed the importance of self-confidence and to be “willing to pay the price.”

“This is the time to commit to a big world,” the retired Hall of Fame manager remarked, “and if you’re not ready then you’ll fall by the wayside.

“Opportunities are waiting for you to become a success in what you have achieved here today, but you have to earn it. Nobody can hand it to you.”

He urged students to thank God every day for what they have been given and, after sharing how he dreamed of being a new York Yankees pitcher at the age of 14, he encouraged them to pursue their dreams.

Like Lasorda’s championship Dodger teams, Brophy’s announcement about free internship and coursework drew strong applause and cheering.

“Now, as we send our first B.A. graduates out into a world that is still recovering from the worst economic crisis in two generations, we want to continue to support our students as they begin to work or consider graduate programs,” Brophy said in his closing remarks.

In 2010 the college began offering bachelor of arts and science programs in liberal studies, business and media arts. As a “Marymount promise” to meet the students’ needs, new faculty and staff were hired, a second campus was opened in San Pedro and additional academic programs developed.

“You extended your trust to us when you enrolled at Marymount, and now we want to extend this opportunity to you in return,” Brophy told students.

The president himself will teach the first graduate course in the fall 2012 semester.

Full details of registration for graduate offerings at Marymount College will be posted on the college website (marymountpv.edu) in June. 

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