Several first-generation college students are en route to some of the finest universities in the country. One is a former crafts store clerk who will enroll this fall at the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Another is a formerly homeless woman pursuing her dream of becoming an immigration attorney. All are among the community college students in San Diego and Imperial counties who are earning more than 25,000 degrees or certificates this spring and who will be celebrated in commencement ceremonies beginning May 18.
“Community colleges are second to none when it comes to providing the education and career training needed for students to find a future that fits their passion,” said Palomar College President/Superintendent Joi Lin Blake, who also serves as president of the San Diego & Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association. “Our region’s colleges have a strong history of helping our students reach their dreams, and we are excited and proud of our Class of 2018.”
Following is a list of commencement ceremonies in the two-county region and highlights of each:
- San Diego Miramar College will hold its 2018 commencement on Friday, May 18, at 1 p.m. inside Hourglass Fieldhouse on campus. Hanna Hunter will give the commencement address. Hunter, who enrolled at Miramar College in the fall of 2015 after tiring of work as a cashier at a local crafts store, is transferring this fall to study at the world-renowned School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Miramar College is at 10440 Black Mountain Road, in San Diego. Miramar College is awarding more than 1,000 associate degrees – an increase of 32 percent from last year – and nearly 500 certificates.
- San Diego Mesa College will hold its 2018 commencement on Saturday, May 19, at 3 p.m. at the University of San Diego Jenny Craig Pavilion, 5998 Alcala Park, in San Diego. Mesa College will be graduating the first cohort of students earning a bachelor’s degree from a California community college in the growing field of health information management as part of the state’s historic Baccalaureate Pilot Program. Mesa College is awarding more than 1,700 associate degrees – an increase of 8 percent from last year – and more than 400 certificates.
- San Diego City College will hold its 2018 commencement on Friday, May 25, at 5 p.m. at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. DACA student Ignacio Hernandez Valverde will be among the speakers. Originally from Tijuana, Hernandez Valverde serves as President of the Associated Student Government, is transferring to UC Berkeley, and has a passion for social justice and serving people. City College is awarding more than 1,000 associate degrees – an increase of 14 percent from last year – and nearly 450 certificates.
- MiraCosta College is holding its graduation ceremony on Friday, May 25, at 5 p.m. in front of the Administration Building at the Oceanside Campus, 1 Barnard Drive. Liliana Hernandez is the featured speaker. The former dropout has overcome homelessness, hunger, and domestic violence to earn an adult high school diploma and enroll at MiraCosta. She plans to transfer this fall to California State University, San Marcos, where she will earn a bachelor’s degree in communications en route to becoming an immigration attorney. Nearly 1,800 students are graduating this year, and MiraCosta College is awarding almost 3,300 degrees and certificates.
- Palomar College will hold its 2018 commencement on Friday, May 25, at the football practice field on campus, 1140 W. Mission Road, in San Marcos. Nearly 2,500 students will be earning a degree or a certificate. Among the graduates is Genesis Alcantar, who will earn his certificate of achievement in fashion design. Alcantar, who is launching his own fashion brand, presented his much-acclaimed street fashion and high-couture line at Palomar College’s MODA Fashion Show and Career Expo at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido on May 11.
- Southwestern College will have the largest graduating class in its history when it holds its commencement ceremony on Friday, May 25, at 4 p.m. at DeVore Stadium on the Southwestern College campus. Southwestern is awarding a record 3,381 degrees and certificates this year, and more than 900 students are expected to participate in the May 25 graduation. Among the graduates will be Victor Morrill, an older gentleman enrolled in the college’s Disability Support Services Program. The formerly incarcerated Morrill is graduating with a degree in business administration with a goal to start a nonprofit to assist former inmates. Southwestern College will livestream the ceremony at www.swccd.edu/commencement
- San Diego Continuing Education will hold its 2018 commencement on Friday, June 1, at 5 p.m. at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. Yesenia Lopez is the student speaker. As a mother of four girls, Yesenia has balanced education and family to achieve a high school diploma at age 31 and will transition to Mesa College to begin a pathway toward employment as a social worker. San Diego Continuing Education is awarding nearly 5,600 professional certificates.
- Cuyamaca College is holding its 2018 commencement on Wednesday, June 6, at 5:30 p.m. on the lawn in front of the B Building, 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway, in Rancho San Diego. Among those speaking at the graduation is Joel Spencer, 38, who came to Cuyamaca College when the City of San Diego targeted his position for possible elimination. He is leaving with three certificates from the Cuyamaca College Water and Wastewater Technology Program, has passed a state certification exam, and plans to soon transfer to a job as a San Diego water plant operator. Some 813 students are graduating this year. Cuyamaca College is awarding more than 1,300 degrees and certificates, an increase of more than 22 percent from 2017.
- Grossmont College is holding its 2018 commencement on Thursday, June 7, at 5:30 p.m. in the Main Quad, 8800 Grossmont College Drive, in El Cajon. More than 1,700 students are earning degrees and 1,262 students are earning certificates. In all, Grossmont College is awarding more than 4,200 degrees and certificates, an increase of more than 17 percent from 2017.
–The San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association
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