Cal State San Bernardino’s College of Education will recognize Outstanding Graduate Students Eyad Alfattal and Sharaya Tran at its 2017 commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 17.

The college’s ceremony, which will be held jointly with the university’s College of Arts and Letters, will begin at noon at Citizens Business Bank Arena, 4000 E. Ontario Center Parkway in Ontario. Parking at the arena will be $5 in lots A, B, C and D. Patrons are encouraged to bring exact change.

Alfattal, who will graduate with a doctorate of education, has faced and conquered a number of challenges to get where he is today.

“I am a first-generation emigrant to the United States,” said Alfattal. “I had to leave my country, Syria, because of war, and I managed to complete my doctoral degree within three years while working full time, and while I was navigating for and supporting my wife and our three little children.”

Prior to immigrating to the United States, Alfattal, who resides in Redlands with his family, obtained his bachelor’s in English language from Damascus University in Syria and his master’s in applied linguistics and TESOL from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.

“I am passionate about the empowering role of education in society,” said Alfattal.

In 2010, Alfattal published his first article with his partner, J. Ivy, titled “Marketing private EFL programs in Damascus” in TESOL Journal. In 2016, while attending CSUSB, he published two more journals himself. The first, titled “A new conceptual model for understanding international students’ college needs,” was published in the Journal of International Students, and the second, “International students’ college achievement: A critical quantitative study,” was published in Wisdom in Education.

After graduation, Alfattal plans to continue his research and publish articles in the field of education leadership and management.

During his time at CSUSB, Alfattal is most proud of the Elsa Ochoa-Fernandez Phi Beta Delta Memorial Scholarship he received in 2016, as well as being inducted to Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest and most selective all-discipline he received in 2016.

Alfattal credits much of his academic journey to his father, Ahmad, for always encouraging him to continue his education. He also deeply values the guidance of his mentor Jay Fiene, dean of the CSUSB College of Education.

For Sharaya Tran, who lives in Ontario and will graduate with her master’s in counseling and guidance, she always knew she wanted to work in a field that would make a difference in people’s lives. During her undergraduate studies, she assumed that nursing would be a perfect fit.

“To my surprise, I quickly learned that I could not stand the sight of blood!” confessed Tran. “I then made the decision to change my major to sociology during my third year of my undergrad.”

During her undergraduate studies, Tran worked at the CSUSB Student Engagement Office (formerly known as the Student Leadership and Development Office). It was here when she realized she could make a meaningful difference in students’ lives and learned the important role that counselors play.

“All of these experiences led me to pursue my master’s in counseling and guidance. As soon as I began my first year of my master’s, I knew that I had chosen a field that fit me well,” said Tran. “Having the position of president, vice president and treasurer for the CSUSB Counseling Graduate Student Association really confirmed what I am meant to do in life.”

Tran also credits her aunt, who holds a master’s degree, for motivating her to pursue higher education.

“Growing up, I was always with my aunt; I went everywhere with her and I saw her constant hard work. I kept saying, ‘I want to be grown up and be successful like her,’” said Tran.

Tran has a number of mentors that she recognizes for her success. These mentors include Lorraine Hedtke and John Winslade of the counseling and guidance program; Daniel Stewart, CSUSB lecturer; Sarah Gonzalez, Tran’s fieldwork supervisor; Robin Steege, Tran’s work supervisor; Brandy Nelson, CSUSB alumni mentor; Nina Torres, elementary school counselor; Alex Spencer, CSUSB student engagement coordinator; and Doreen Hatcher, former CSUSB alumni relations director.

“They each helped stimulate my personal and professional growth,” said Tran. “With their ongoing support and guidance, I gained confidence that helped reaffirm that I was on the right path for my life as an educator.”

After graduating, Tran plans to pursue a doctoral degree in education. But first, Tran will begin her counseling career as she has accepted a high school counselor position in the Corona-Norco Unified School District, which she will begin in July.

“I cannot wait to start this amazing journey!” said Tran.

CSUSB will hold three other commencement ceremonies on June 17: The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at 8 a.m., the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration at 4 p.m. and the College of Natural Sciences at 8 p.m.

All of the commencement ceremonies at Citizens Business Bank Arena will be webcast live on the Creative Media Services webcast page.

For more information about the June 2017 graduations, visit the CSUSB Commencement website or contact the Office of Special Events and Guest Services at 909-537-7360.

For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at 909-537-5007 and visit