Jimmy Wayne

Honorary Degrees

California State University San Marcos​

Jimmy Wayne is a former foster youth who became an award-winning country music artist. His songs and stories highlight his mission to raise awareness for children in foster care. Born in 1972, Mr. Wayne was abandoned by his father and raised by a troubled mother, forcing him into a series of foster homes while his mother was in prison. Mr. Wayne became homeless after running from a county home. It was an encounter with Beatrice and Russell Costner that created the pillars of his final foster family. The Costners gave Mr. Wayne a place to live and a job, and he used his time with them to renew his commitment to completing his education and living a better life. It also afforded him the opportunity to explore his love of music.

Mr. Wayne’s hits include “I Love You This Much,” “Do You Believe Me Now” and “Paper Angels,” which became a book and a made-for-TV movie. In 2010, Mr. Wayne walked halfway across America to raise awareness for kids aging out of the foster care system. His efforts influenced 23 states to enact laws extending foster care services from age 18 to 21. Mr. Wayne’s New York Times best-selling memoir, “Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way,” chronicles his harrowing story and efforts to make a difference.

Today, Mr. Wayne travels around the country sharing his powerful story about hope and perseverance through both singing and storytelling, inspiring audiences to make a difference. California State University San Marcos was honored to feature Mr. Wayne with a day-long campus visit in 2017, including a performance as part of the 10-year anniversary celebration of the university’s ACE Scholars Services, which serves more former foster youth per capita than any other university in the nation. During his visit, Mr. Wayne spent personal time with ACE students and inspired the campus and community members with his powerful songs and gripping story. Mr. Wayne’s campus visit attracted important media attention, helping to promote California State University San Marcos as a place dedicated to educational access and attainment for foster youth.

In recognition of his outstanding accomplishments, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University San Marcos are proud to confer upon Jimmy Wayne the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.