“An Evening with Annette Bening to Benefit the San Diego Promise,” held Sept. 20 at the San Diego Natural History Museum, raised more than $200,000 to support the district’s free community college program. Photo courtesy SDCCD.

“An Evening with Annette Bening to Benefit the San Diego Promise,” on Sept. 20 at the San Diego Natural History Museum, raised more than $200,000 to support the district’s free community college program.

Speaking at the sold-out event, Bening shared with the audience how the education she received at Mesa College helped prepare her for a highly successful acting career

A four-time  Academy Award nominee, Bening has won numerous awards and played critically acclaimed roles in films such as “Being Julia,” “The American President,” “American Beauty,” and “The Kids Are All Right.” Her newest film, “Life Itself,” opened in theaters this week.

A San Diego native, Bening has stayed connected with Mesa College over the years including serving as the commencement speaker in 2002. She is currently honorary co-chair of the San Diego Promise fundraising campaign along with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

“When I went to San Diego Mesa College, it was basically free and now it costs a lot of money and there are a lot of people who want to go to college who can’t afford it,” Bening said. “So the San Diego Promise program is trying to rectify that. That’s why I’m here, because I care and I want to give back and I want to say thank you and pass it on to other people who want the same opportunity that I had to go to a good community college.”

In recognition for her many contributions, SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll made a surprise announcement that the district will establish the Annette Bening Promise Scholarship to be awarded to a district student who demonstrates academic excellence and a commitment to service.

“All of our students have the capability of becoming distinguished alumni like Annette Bening,” Carroll said. “When they succeed, I hope that they will emulate her by providing opportunities for future students to excel. The San Diego Promise is an excellent gift to our community and we are grateful to Annette Bening and to all of our donors who have made this possible.”

Chancellor Carroll said the success of the fundraising gala and other fundraising efforts will allow the district to ensure any full-time student who wants to complete a two-year program at City, Mesa, and Miramar College can do so regardless of his/her financial situation.

To learn more about the San Diego Promise, visit www.sdccd.edu/promise

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