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Student Life . Student Services . Registrar . 2020 Commencement 

2020 Commencement

In the interest of health and safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Commencement was held virtually.

Virtual ceremony

Friday, May 15, 2020, 11am ET

Our Commencement speakers were designer and painter Brian Peterson, class of 2009, and Alicia Telzerow, class of 2020.

Four years ago, Brian Peterson, then a car designer for Kia Motors, had recently moved to California with his wife Vanessa. From his living room window one night, Peterson heard the screams of a man on the street below, and two days later, he found himself sitting by that man on the sidewalk and asking him for permission to paint his portrait.

Dozens of portraits later, Peterson’s nonprofit, Faces of Santa Ana, is changing lives and growing rapidly. The basic process: Peterson befriends a person experiencing homelessness, paints his or her portrait, and puts 50 percent of the proceeds from the painting’s sale into a “Love Account” to be used however the subject wishes: for food, medical equipment or art projects. While helping those in need, the project also inspires those who purchase the artwork. Peterson says, “They’re investing in a life. They’re investing in something that’s living and breathing and hoping and looking for love and looking for change.” In some cases, the painting’s subject and purchaser develop lasting friendships.

Peterson’s work has expanded to creating murals and involving local high school students in painting portraits. Faces of Santa Ana has begun spreading to other cities as well. Recently, Peterson resigned from his job to pursue Faces of Santa Ana full time.

The Student Commencement speaker was Alicia Telzerow, who graduated in 2020 with a BFA in Glass. Alicia grew up in greater Clevland and has been a craftsperson from an early age. During her time at the Cleveland Institute of Art, she has worked as an open studio tech, and as a technical assistant for local artists. She plans to pursue graduate school.

2020 Commencement program


Social Media

Share your excitement leading up to the ceremony and celebrate with us during the big day by following CIA on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and tagging your posts with the official commencement hashtag: #CIAgrad2020


For questions about graduation applications or diplomas, please contact the Registrar’s Office by phone at 216.421.7321 or by email at

For questions about commencement, please contact the President’s office at 216.421.7410 or by email.


For more information:

Office of the President
216.421.7410 | Contact

For more information:

Registar's Office
216.421.7321 | Contact


Diplomas are not distributed to students during the ceremony. Diplomas are mailed in June.

Degree candidates must meet specific obligations for graduation before diplomas and final transcripts will be issued.