Graduation 2009 Ceremonies

Isiah Reyes

A total of 1,159 students graduated at Sartoris Field June 5, being the largest graduating class GCC has ever had.

“The first graduating class in 1929 had only 29 students, taught by nine faculty, administrated by three deans and a principle,” said superintendent / president Audre Levy. “We have come a long way today. Over the course of GCC’s history, this college has been the home of over a million college students.”

Slideshow Media Credit: Richard Kontas

The commencement kicked off with “The Star Spangled Banner,” sung by Derik Dermegerdichian, followed by the greetings and introductions by Levy who spoke of the history of the college. Afterward, she introduced Jack Scott, chancellor of California Community Colleges, and said that “he is no stranger to the community college system.”

A member of the State Legislature since 1996, Scott represented California’s 21st Senatorial District, which includes Pasadena, Glendale and Burbank. He also served as president of Pasadena City College.

Scott was unanimously elected as the 14th Chancellor of the California Community Colleges by the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges on May 8, 2008.

He gave words of wisdom to the graduating class before they received their diplomas or certificates.

“It’s better to go through life as an optimist than as a pessimist,” Scott said, who also emphasized to the graduates that they should seize the day and live in the present tense.

“One day you’ll sit around and say ‘I’d be happy if I had a bigger home’ or ‘I’d be happy if I were married to somebody else’ . But this is the time to enjoy life,” Scott said.

Of the 1,159 students who received a diploma or certificate, 821 received a two-year degree, 606 received associates degrees, 215 received associates of science degrees and 338 of them received certificates in many other fields such as administration of justice, communications and fire technology. There were 106 who graduated as registered nurses.

“Students who earn a two-year degree will be making a half a million dollars more than a person who only has a high school diploma,” Levy said. “If you go onto a four-year institution, you will be making a million dollars more than those who only have a high school diploma.”

The graduating class is varied on many levels: 65 percent worked while attending college, 30 percent were full time students and 20 percent balanced academics while supporting families and careers.

In addition, 30 percent of the graduates were over the age of 40, with the oldest being 67-years-old. There were 191 graduates who were enrolled in high school (taking classes at their high school at the same time while they were graduating from community college).

More than 583 students received scholarships from the college, adding up to $260,000 in funds.

Furthermore, 60 percent of the graduates are transferring to four-year universities and 40 percent of them were the first in their families to attend college.

“Therefore, ladies and gentleman, I think you will agree that you as a group of students dreamed the improbable, done the impossible and have accomplished the insurmountable,” Levy said.

Levy then passed the graduating class to Vahé Peroomian, president of the board of trustees.

“This graduating class represents a very unique class here at GCC,” Peroomian said. “Most of you began here when the parking structure had just opened, and cardiac health soon became a thing of the past thanks to the marvelous elevator tower. You’re going to be one of the last classes to boast about climbing that hill without an elevator.

“Many of our nursing students graduating this year have had the benefit of the state of the art Bhupesh Parikh building,” Peroomian said.

“These are some of the most visible examples of how we’ve put the 98 million dollar bond passed by Glendale voters seven years ago to good use,” Peroomian said.

In the past decade, the college has enrolled over 40,000 students each year for a wide range of results. From transferring to four-year college, to earning two-year degrees to earning vocational certificates to self-improvement.

More than 22,000 have earned a college degree and possibly another 32,000 have earned certificates, according to Levy.

The ceremony was scheduled to be held in rain or shine and luckily for the graduating class, they were dry upon receiving their diplomas.

After the recognition of graduates by Peroomian and the recognition of graduates with honors by Dawn Lindsay, vice president of instructional services, there was the presentation of degrees and the crossing of the tassels by Ovsanna Khachikian, president of associated students.

“It’s been said that a goal without a plan is just a wish,” Peroomian said. “Where you go from here shouldn’t just be an aimless goal or a wish, but a carefully planned future with achievable goals.”

The alma mater at the end of the ceremony was sung by Joy Chen with the trademark release of the doves into the open sky. A reception for graduates and guests was held in Plaza Vaquero following the commencement ceremony.

“This isn’t just a dress rehearsal we’re in,” Scott told the graduating class. “It’s life.”