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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 8:41 am | Fog/Mist 51º


Hundreds of Graduates Take to La Playa Stadium as SBCC Celebrates Commencement

Speaker Desiree Sulzmann tells how she found a fresh start and a path to success as a student at the community college

SBCC graduates wave to friends and family before Friday’s commencement ceremony in La Playa Stadium. More than 1,800 students received certificates and degrees.
SBCC graduates wave to friends and family before Friday’s commencement ceremony in La Playa Stadium. More than 1,800 students received certificates and degrees. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Hundreds of students flooded into La Playa Stadium on Friday in caps and gowns, the youngest of which was 17 and the oldest 68, celebrating graduation at Santa Barbara City College.

SBCC graduation
Desiree Sulzmann received a standing ovation for her commencement speech. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

More than 1,800 students received certificates and degrees for the past academic year, and friends and family filled the stands, waving and cheering to the grads below.

SBCC President Lori Gaskin, who took video of the cheering audience from the podium with her cell phone, encouraged the students to bask in the moment and reflect on their journey.  

She talked about the graduating class, which is 59 percent female and had the most degrees in communications studies, followed closely by economics.

"On a much deeper level, we have found you to be a wonderful class," she said.

Academic Senate President Kimberly Monda, who also teaches English at SBCC, reminded the students of the moments when they encountered hardship, but how commencement day reminded them it was all worth it.

"You are here, you have done it," she said.

Most inspiring was graduating student Desiree Sulzmann, who earned a standing ovation after her commencement speech.

Sulzmann recalled struggling in high school in her native Chicago, where she battled multiple addictions and landed in juvenile rehabilitation.

It was hard to return to high school and move on when every person seemed to know her struggles, she said. She barely graduated high school with a 2.0.

SBCC promised a new beginning for her, away from peers and old habits. 

SBCC graduation
SBCC graduates file into La Playa Stadium for Friday's ceremony. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Incredibly, the young woman was able to complete her first semester with a 4.0 grade point average, and walked across Friday's stage with an honors certificate summa cum laude. 

Sulzmann graduated Friday with four associate's degrees, including political science, political science for transfer, humanities and liberal arts.

She plans to transfer to UC Berkeley and ultimately plans to go to law school. Her parents had flown in from Illinois for the ceremony, and she laughed that she had forgotten to tell them that she would be the commencement speaker.

"This is where fresh starts are handed out," Sulzmann said of the college. "I learned that the only person I have to prove anything to is myself."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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