By Hector M. Zermeno
Graduation is a rite of passage for college students that marks the beginning of a new stage in their life and for Riverside City College students, the centennial commencement promises to be a memorable occasion.
“This year is all about the centennial,” said Dawn Valencia, dean of enrollment services. “Our president (Wolde-Ab Isaac) has looked to us to have our commencement that serves as the capstone event to our century celebration.”
Admissions & Records will send out notifications after May 1 to students approved for graduation with information regarding rehearsals and the purchase of academic regalia, which includes the cap and gown.
The graduation ceremony is scheduled to be held in Wheelock Field at 6 p.m. on June 9.
RCC expects to have at least double or triple the participation from previous years for this commencement, according to Valencia, which will bring the total number of students to approximately 1,400 to 2,100.
The amount of graduating students is estimated to bring around 5,500 people to the ceremony. RCC plans to arrange enough sitting space to accommodate the amount of people in attendance.
RCC plans to have a Jumbotron screen at the ceremony to provide everyone in attendance with a view of the stage. An American Sign Language interpreter will appear in a portion of the screen for the hearing impaired.
“It’s just going to be a special event,” Valencia said. “This is truly a once in a lifetime commencement and I think the Class of 2016 is very fortunate.”
RCC President Wolde-Ab Isaac is planning to have a high-profile keynote speaker for commencement. The name will be announced when the speaker confirms their appearance.
The academic regalia for the ceremony will include commemorative sashes, tassels and medallions for the centennial celebration. As a gift to the graduating students, the Associated Students of RCC will cover the expense of the sashes.
The expense of the cap and gown is predicted to be around $55, whereas in previous years the cost was $82.
Students will receive a certificate holder and a view book with “history, trivia, facts and figures” about RCC, according to Valencia.
A graduating student will get the opportunity to deliver a speech at commencement. Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society held a speech competition to select the student speaker on April 5 in the Digital Library.
Before the competition Shauna Quake, president of AGS, gave the participants some advice.
“Just go in there, have confidence… and give it all you got,” Quake said.
Thirteen students participated by presenting their speeches before a panel of five judges. The panel was composed of RCC faculty and staff.
“It’s always an honor to assist with the graduation speaker because this is my field of study,” said Estrella M. Romero, associate professor of Communication Studies.
The panel judged the content, prose and organization of the speech among other criteria. The speech should focus on the theme of the centennial celebration to “capture the essence and success of the college over the last 100 years,” Romero said.
After every student had presented their speech, the panel deliberated to select the winner.
The judges congratulated all the participants before announcing the student commencement speaker.
Paulina Munguia, a political science major, was selected as the student speaker. She received a trophy as an award for her speech. She will also receive reserved seating for five of her guests.
“I wanted to give thanks to anyone who has helped me get to where I am today,” Munguia said. “My parents supporting me with whatever I wanted to do, this college for offering me amazing opportunities and excellent education at a really affordable price.”
Munguia applied for transfer to the University of California, Riverside and to California State University, Fullerton. UC Riverside accepted Munguia and she is waiting to hear from Cal State Fullerton.
She advises students at RCC to be involved in the programs the college has to offer to get the most out of the college experience. She said RCC has some of the best programs in the Inland Empire.
“RCC is a small but a mighty community college,” Munguia said.
The judges advise students to prepare and rehearse in order to have a successful speech.