Cheers from the audience packing the ballroom at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort welcomed a stream of Antioch University Santa Barbara graduates Friday, marking the 35th commencement in the school’s history.

As graduates filed in, waving to family and friends, Antioch President Nancy Leffert welcomed them, reminding them that they were joining the ranks of more than 4,000 alumni.

Hundreds of graduates received diplomas, including bachelor of arts in liberal studies, masters in education, clinical psychology and psychology, and doctorates in clinical psychology.

Four of the master of clinical psychology graduates from the Latino and Latina Mental Health Concentration received educational stipends from the MFT Consortium of the Central Coast.

Only five awards were made in the region, awarding Antioch 80 percent of the stipends.

“I know you have made sacrifices to get here,” Leffert said, acknowledging that many students cared for children, elderly parents or maintained full-time jobs while completing their studies.

As graduates listened, they were most likely taking stock of the journey that brought them there, Leffert said.

She reflected on her own journey, and recalled a high school guidance counselor telling Leffert she “wasn’t college material.”

“I can still feel the physical response to those words,” she said, adding that her heart still races thinking about it.

Affirmation from Leffert’s mother also never came.

“She told me I would marry my future, not make it,” she told the audience.

But Leffert did make her own future, and she encouraged the new graduates to continue doing the same in their own lives.

Dawn Osborn, a marine biologist who leads the Environmental Studies Concentration in the BA Completion for the university, was given the award for excellence in teaching award.

“We are all so proud of you,” Osborn said, and encouraged the grads to “find joy in your challenges.”

Brandon Maynard, who graduated on Friday with his master’s in clinical psychology, was chosen by Antioch faculty to speak.

Maynard reminisced about coffee-fueled paper-writing sessions, which lead to essays “that had more self-reflection than a mirrored hallway at a county fair,” a comment which drew laughs from his classmates.

Family and friends of the grads got a lot of love throughout the ceremony, with Maynard telling graduates “you did not do this alone,” but added that each student added his or her own strength and diligence into the mix.

“It is real, and it is done and it cannot be taken away from you,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.