Monday, July 16 , 2018, 2:54 am | Fair 66º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Santa Barbara City College Celebrates Class of 2016’s Accomplishments, Potential and Future

1,144 new graduates receive diplomas and certificates during La Playa Stadium ceremony presided over by retiring SBCC President Lori Gaskin

More than 1,000 Santa Barbara City College students filed in to La Playa Stadium on Friday to receive their diplomas or certificates at the school’s 67th annual commencement ceremony. Click to view larger
More than 1,000 Santa Barbara City College students filed in to La Playa Stadium on Friday to receive their diplomas or certificates at the school’s 67th annual commencement ceremony. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

With the Pacific Ocean in full view, family, friends and members of the Santa Barbara City College community gathered in the bleachers of La Playa Stadium to watch SBCC send off the Class of 2016.

In all, 1,144 students crossed the stage to receive their diplomas or certificates during the school’s 67th annual commencement ceremony.

“Formally, commencement signifies a beginning, a start, and not the end,” said SBCC President Lori Gaskin, in her final commencement ceremony before her Aug. 1 retirement. “More important to us, commencement symbolizes hope and potential and future and possibilities.

“This is how we frame our commencement ceremony: celebrating our graduates’ potential, your future, your possibilities, and the hope embodied in each of you. And the common thread that binds you is your pursuit of education.”

The major featuring the most graduates, she said, was economics, and 51 of the cap-and-gown-clad students finished up their community college careers with a 4.0 grade-point average.

While almost two-thirds of the students are age 24 and under, the youngest graduate was 17, and the eldest 69 “years young,” Gaskin said.

In her address, Gaskin shared excerpts of notes students had written to the college conveying the success and happiness they found at SBCC and thanking various professors for the pivotal opportunities they provided them.

Friday was a bittersweet day for SBCC President Lori Gaskin, who is retiring Aug. 1 and was presiding over her final commencement. Click to view larger
Friday was a bittersweet day for SBCC President Lori Gaskin, who is retiring Aug. 1 and was presiding over her final commencement. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

As is the college’s tradition, a student received the honor of serving as commencement speaker. Graduating with his fifth associate’s degree, Daniel Leon-Gijon recalled how his years at SBCC were instrumental in overcoming obstacles in his personal life, including drug use.

His interest in physics and engineering was sparked, he said, when a physics professor asked his class, “How many of you know how a TV remote works?” In the fall, Leon-Gijon will be studying electrical engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

In 2013, SBCC was a co-winner of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, a prestigious honor that effectively ranked it as the No. 1 community college in the United States. The Aspen Institute cited, in part, how two-thirds of the college’s full-time student body graduated within three years, when the national average is 40 percent.

With the college’s prestige have come students from far and wide. While most community colleges are primarily made up of locals, just under two-thirds of SBCC students are from Santa Barbara County as a whole. Four percent are from out of state, and 6 percent from outside the country.

Taking over for Gaskin as president will be former San Diego City College President Anthony Beebe, who starts work July 1.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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