Students, faculty and family gathered in the football field May 26 to celebrate the achievements of members of the class of 2012. Dean Kiran Kamath approached the podium, adjusted the microphone and said, “Welcome to Los Medanos College’s 38th Annual Graduation Ceremony.”
Among the first to congratulate the students was Interim LMC President Richard Livingston, who underscored that they all “have amazing life stories, they’ve overcome so much to be here this evening, and we honor them for their educational achievements.”
He also honored the families of the students who, he said, often shared in their frustrations and disappointments along the way, but also “shared in their achievements, and you share tonight in their triumphs of earning their degrees and certificates.”
Livingston spoke directly to those students who will be beginning a new chapter in their lives: “My first wish for you all is that as you leave LMC you engage in the major issues confronting us, and work passionately to improve things for all of us.”
Robert Calone, who represents East County as a member of the Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board, also addressed graduates.
“Last year, I was excited because it had been 35 years since I wore a cap and gown, and it’s only been one year now, but I’m just as excited,” he said, turning his head to face the students on either side of the podium.
“It hasn’t been easy,” he acknowledged. “It’s been downright difficult, at times, because of budget cuts, and reduced funding.”
But as the evening was one of celebration and reflection, he concluded with several points he wanted to leave with the students: “Tonight is not the end, but a continuation of your education,” he said. “Work hard, but take time and enjoy life…and lastly, we don’t know what the future will bring, but never lose sight of your dreams.”
After a musical selection from student musicians and directed by instructor Jonathan Knight, student commencement speaker Carmen Harris began her remarks.
“This road may have been bumpy for some more than others, due to commitments to our jobs, our communities, our friends and our families,” said Harris, “however, we should embrace these, due to the fact that anything worthwhile does not come easy.”
Harris was passionate throughout her speech, listing her numerous achievements at Los Medanos College, and said, “Anything you aspire to do, can be done.”
She addressed the students directly, asking, “Who do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered? What difference will you make in this world…for society, for your community, for your family, and for yourself?”
Harris concluded her speech, saying, “As we move forward, we must not lose sight of the larger picture. We have been given so much support from this great institution, from our friends and our families…We must be mindful to use our gifts, our talents, and our creativity to pass these forward.”
Harris graduated Los Medanos College with degrees in sociology, psychology, anthropology, a Vocational Nursing certificate and did it all with honors.
The ceremony continued with a reading of the names of graduates by retiring Dean Gil Rodriguez, a former math instructor, and Nancy Whitman, chair of the World Languages department.
After the students returned to their seats, Kamath returned to the podium. “Are you ready, graduates?” she asked. The question was promptly answered by cheers from both the students and the audience. “On behalf of LMC, and the CCCCD, I hereby confer upon you the degrees of Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and the Certificate of Achievement, and all the honors and privileges afforded to you.”
Finally, and to the roaring cheers of the crowd, she led the graduates in moving their tassels from the right side of their caps to the left, and concluded with a simple phrase: “I proudly present the class of 2012.”
About an hour before the ceremony, a variety of students weighed in on how they felt and what they would do in the future after graduation. Many were both relieved and excited.
“It feels like a weight is being lifted off my shoulders,” said Rick Tanwar, Appliance Technology major. “It’s a relief.”
Tanwar has completed four semesters at LMC, and received an associate’s degree in Appliance Service Technology, as well as a Certificate of Achievement. “I plan on getting a good job and supporting my family,” said Tanwar about his life beyond LMC.
“It’s like a five-year plan coming to an end,” said Linda Solis. “It’s exciting. I plan on transferring to CSU East Bay… The ultimate goal for me is to work in juvenile corrections.”
Solis attended Los Medanos for five years, and received an associate of science in Administration of Justice.
However, some students felt sad about leaving the college.
“It’s a relief, and it makes you feel free; but on the other hand, it’s kind of sad to go,” said music major Zeke Nuez. “This place has become my home away from home… But it’s been a long time since I started, and I’m glad I was able to finish,” said Nuez “I’m gonna go out and use my talents to make myself and other people happy.”
And there were some like Kevin Davis Sr. who didn’t know quite how to feel.
“It all feels so surreal to me, and I don’t think I’ll really understand what it means until the ceremony,” he said.
Davis earned an associate’s degree in behavioral/social science, and planned to transfer to Patton University this fall to study psychology and theology.