HSU Marks 20th Anniv of Grad Pledge - Humboldt State Now

HSU Marks 20th Anniv of Grad Pledge

Humboldt State University’s 2007 Commencement on May 12 marked the 20th anniversary of its famed Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility, an oath conceived by HSU undergraduates that has since won the allegiance of young people from coast to coast and as far away as Asia.

Humboldt State University’s 2007 Commencement on May 12 marked the 20th anniversary of its famed Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility, an oath conceived by HSU undergraduates that has since won the allegiance of young people from coast to coast and as far away as Asia.

In the spirit of the Pledge, an environmentally-conscious jewelry company named Holly Yashi, founded 25 years ago in Arcata by two HSU graduates, donated 1,000 commemorative pins valued at $20,000 for all graduating seniors who took the pledge May 12.

HSU oceanography senior Jacqueline Lee, Coordinator of Humboldt State’s Graduation Pledge Alliance, said she specifically approached Holly Yashi to design and produce the commemorative pin “not only because it is an environmentally conscious or ‘green’ company, but also because it supports the local community economically—all jewelry production takes place just a short walk from the HSU campus.”

More than 100 colleges and universities nationwide and overseas, including Stanford and MIT, have adopted the pledge, which states “I _________, pledge to thoroughly investigate and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job opportunity that I consider.”

Conceived in 1987 by a group of HSU students and community members through a campus club named Student Citizens for Social Responsibility devoted to curbing nuclear weapons, the Graduation Pledge captured immediate attention in the national press—including the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle—and years later in the oldest halls of the nation’s higher learning when Harvard University (founded 1636) adopted a Campus Sustainability commitment.

By 1993, more than 30 schools, including the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Oregon at Eugene, had embraced HSU’s initiative, which encouraged people to consider the larger implications of their chosen careers and professions.

Ms. Lee said the connection with Holly Yashi was a natural for the local jewelry company, which was founded in 1981 by Humboldt State alumni Holly Hosterman, creative director, and Paul “Yashi” Lubitz, president and CEO. The design studio employs about 50 artisans, including other HSU graduates, who donated their volunteer labor for the commemorative pins, based on Ms. Hosterman’s original artwork, which was built on traditional Graduation Pledge Alliance designs.

“I was overwhelmed by the support I received from Holly Yashi,” Ms. Lee said. “Holly and Paul contribute to the community, to the University, and to social and environmental responsibility.” The company’s environmental program includes the recycling of virtually 100% of scrap metal. The metal the company uses in production, niobium, is hypo-allergenic.

“We value the education we received at Humboldt State and it feels good to give back in such a meaningful way,” Mr. Lubitz said. He earned a double degree in music and industrial technology at HSU (’77); Ms. Hosterman received a degree in studio art (’77). Her award-winning designs, once featured in Vogue, are sold by nearly 1,100 retailers nationwide. Musicians Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt, and Natalie McMaster and actress Sandra Oh (Sideways/Grey’s Anatomy) have worn Holly Yashi jewelry (http://www.hollyyashi.com/).

Both Ms. Hosterman and Mr. Lubitz were named Distinguished Alumni by Humboldt State’s Alumni Association in 1992.