San Diego Mesa College. Photo credit: Alexander Nguyen

More than 12,000 community college degree-earning students in San Diego and Imperial counties will be celebrated during commencement ceremonies that begin May 13 and continue through June 11, it was announced Thursday.

Several colleges are seeing a record number of graduates this year, thanks to strategic efforts that include encouraging students to develop an educational plan that leads to a degree or certificate, associate transfer degrees that offer a clear path to California State University institutions, and placing a stronger emphasis on the benefits of securing an associate degree.

“California Community Colleges provide an unparalleled opportunity for students from all walks of life to achieve their educational goals, and we are proud of what our graduates have accomplished this year,” said Victor Jaime, president of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association and president/superintendent of Imperial Valley College. “This is their time to shine.”

Various studies show that students who have earned an associate degree will earn well in excess of $400,000 more over a working lifetime than someone with a high school diploma.

Five years after securing an associate degree in accounting, a person will earn a median annual salary that is $15,000 more than he or she would have earned before enrolling in a community college, according to data from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

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