Hundreds of Allan Hancock College graduates proudly walked across the stage to receive their diplomas during the college’s 93rd annual commencement ceremony on Friday.
Nearly 2,000 friends, family, faculty and staff erupted in applause during the ceremony that took place on the lawn of the Commons on the Santa Maria campus.
Superintendent/President Kevin Walther, Ph.D., delivered the keynote address during his first commencement at the college. He told the graduates they were poised for greatness.
“Our goal is to give you the tools to continue to learn and grow throughout your lives,” Walthers said. “Your professors, instructors and administrators are proudly affirming that you possess the inherent qualities of an educated person, worthy of a degree.”
He urged graduates to commit themselves to lifelong learning and challenged them to follow their dreams without fear.
“The education received and lessons learned have prepared you to take a leap of faith and fearlessly pursue your goals,” Walthers said.
Associated Student Body President Pedro Gonzalez spoke on behalf of the Class of 2014.
“We are turning the page on what is one of the most important chapters in our lives and are beginning to write the next one,” said Gonzalez, who will attend Cal Poly in the fall. “From this moment, the possibilities are endless because we started at Allan Hancock College and can now go anywhere.”
Interim Vice President of Student Services Jane Harmon, Ph.D., accounting professor and Academic Senate President Glenn Owen, and Board of Trustees President Larry Lahr also addressed the students.
The graduates participating in the commencement were among the 858 students who earned 1,221 associate in arts of science degrees during the 2013-14 academic year. The number of students represents a 14 percent increase from last year, while the total degrees jumped by 20 percent. The degrees, 852 associate in arts degrees and 369 associate in science degrees, were earned in 79 majors.
The median age of this year’s graduating class was 24. The youngest graduate was 17-year-old Micah Anthes, who earned an associate's degree in liberal arts-transfer: arts and humanities. The Santa Maria native will enroll at Cal Poly in the fall. The oldest was 74-year-old James Robbins of Santa Maria, who earned two associate's degrees. He said he enrolled at Hancock to inspire his granddaughters to continue their education.
Selected for the honor of carrying the Allan Hancock College banners into the ceremony were Camerron Barlow and Jesus Sanchez. Barlow, a Lompoc resident and former Associated Student Body Government president, graduated with eight degrees, the most by any graduate in the class of 2014. He will attend Cal State University-Northridge next year.
Barlow was one of 227 graduates who earned more than one degree.
Sanchez graduated from Hancock with a 4.0 grade point average despite only beginning to learn how to read and write English six years ago. He started at the college in 2009 in the noncredit ESL course. He left Hancock with his AA in liberal arts-transfer: arts and humanities. The winner of the prestigious 2014 Marian Hancock Scholarship, which comes with a $10,000 prize, will attend UC Berkeley in the fall. He hopes to become an English as a second language instructor to pay it forward.
Sanchez was one of 11 students to graduate with high honors and a 4.0 grade point average. Graduating with honors were 148 students with grade point averages between 3.5 and 3.99.
The ceremony was streamed live on the Allan Hancock College website and will be available next week on the college’s YouTube page by clicking here.
— Sonja Oglesby is a public affairs coordinator for Allan Hancock College.