Riverside City College hosts 99th graduation ceremony

By Crystal Olmedo | Updated July 6, 2016

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Approximately 1,000 students turned their tassels at Riverside City College’s 99th commencement ceremony June 9. Graduates received over 3,000 associate degrees and certificates.

Associate Professor of Nursing Lee Nelson commented on the large number of graduates.

“Here we are celebrating our 100th anniversary as a college, which is really exciting, and we have one of the largest graduating classes on the field here today,” Nelson said. “(They) said we’ll be here twice as long as we normally are, but what a celebration we are having here today.”

Members of the graduating class began their first step in the process with a rehearsal in the Landis Auditorium to ensure things went smoothly for the main event.

Dean of Instruction for Career and Technical Education Patricia Avila and
Virginia McKee Leone, interim vice president of Academic Affairs alternated in reading names of the 2016 graduating class making sure to pronounce them correctly at the ceremony.

Images sharing historical moments at RCC and past students, faculty and staff who were recognized for their achievements and contribution to the school were projected on stage behind Avila and McKee Leone to remind students what has transpired over the past century.

The ceremony featured performances by the RCC Marching Tigers playing “Pomp and Circumstance” and the RCC Chamber Singers serenading the audience with the college’s Alma Mater. The words were written by Vincent Lawton, an RCC student in the mid 1950s and member of both of the college’s yearbook the “Tequesquite” and student newspaper the “Tiger Times,” and music was composed by Don Stone faculty member of the music department from 1948 to 1964.

Graduates shared details about how RCC helped them to stay motivated in their pursuit for education.

“A lot of the teachers here are very passionate and they really helped me,” said Bryan Young, graduate of an Associate’s degree in Fine Arts. “Especially some of the theater arts teachers that I worked with really got me inspired to work in the industry and the kinds of things I need to do to achieve goals.”

Another graduate attributed her success to the college’s student life.

“It was definitely the student involvement that encouraged me to strive to do better and be more involved on campus,” said Lizzette Capul who graduated with four associates degrees.

Capul was also crowned one of two homecoming queens, along with fellow graduate Christina E. Henderson, during halftime of the November game against Chaffey College. History was made as it was the first tie for the honor in the college’s lifespan.

Henderson graduated with four Associate’s degrees and a certificate. She encouraged future degree hopefuls to keep pushing despite the obstacles.

“Don’t stop,” Henderson said. “I started here along time ago, left and performed overseas. I came back after a year and a half after an injury and have been going hardcore ever since. Just don’t give up. Be determined, finish what you started and have fun.”

Student commencement speaker Paulina Munguia expressed her gratitude to RCC and how it felt to be apart of the centennial commencement.

“RCC for a hundred years has been giving opportunities to students like me that come from immigrant parents to get an education and succeed in life,” Munguia said. “To … be a part of this, it’s really honorable for me.”

Mary Figueroa, member or the Riverside City College District Board of Trustees and former president of the board shared her personal experience in life.

“My oldest brother Manuel was the most musically talented of (the) siblings, but yet he made bad choices and bad decisions along life’s way,” Figueroa said. “He had a good and kind heart, but drugs and alcohol overshadowed that talent and he died too early to realize his dreams. Remember that no one can keep you from achieving your goals, your visions, your dreams. No one except for you.”

She urged students to stay focused.

“Yes you will face challenges, but consider these your moments of strength,” Figueroa said. “Don’t listen to those that will keep you down. If they love you they will support you. If they don’t, then you have some hard decisions to make, but make them.”