Hundreds of Allan Hancock College graduates and about 2,000 audience members joined faculty and staff Friday at the college’s 90th annual commencement ceremony on the lawn of the Santa Maria campus Commons.
Addressing the graduates were Allan Hancock College Superintendent/President José Ortiz, Ed.D., Associated Student Body President Eddie Triste and retiring biology professor, Mick Bondello.
Ortiz reminded the graduates that each had persevered in their road to a college degree. “…many of our students have incredible stories to tell about their journey to success at Allan Hancock College,” he said. “But there is a common thread running throughout all of our students’ education experiences. You have all overcome one obstacle after another. And of course with the state of affairs that we face today in our country and our state, you will continue to face obstacles as you go on with your lives. It is my hope that of all the things you have learned in your studies here at Hancock College that you realize how resourceful you have been to make this day possible.”
Triste told the graduates he admired them for their achievements and left them with a quote from Cesar Chavez. “I want to leave you with these last words that are very dear to me: ‘We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.’”
Retiring biology professor Mick Bondello spoke about the special symbiosis that exists at the college, between students and teachers and between teachers and staff. “The students at Hancock are different that those you see at other community colleges up and down the coast,” he said. “They are more appreciative, more down-home, more willing to work with you and less likely to feel ‘entitled’ as you would find elsewhere. And teachers pick up on this, and respond with greater efforts to engage these students to learn from them and find the common ground that is essential to forming this most ideal educational environment. It is truly a symbiosis wherein all participants gain from the experience.”
The graduates at commencement were among 747 students who earned 1,067 associate in arts or science degrees during the 2010-11 academic year. These degrees – 761 associate in arts degrees and 306 associate in science degrees – were earned in 68 different majors.
Of the 747 graduates, 142 graduated with honors for maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or above. Six of those students maintained a perfect GPA of 4.0 and graduated with high honors.
Spanning 17 to 70, the average age of this year’s graduate was 28.
This year’s youngest graduate was Nipomo resident Evan Vaughan. Vaughan earned an AA degree in liberal arts-transfer: mathematics and science and graduated with honors. He is transferring to Sacramento State next year to study forensic biology and looks forward to a career in law enforcement.
The most senior graduate this year was 70-year-old Norris Zetmeir of Santa Maria, who earned an AA degree in enology/viticulture, while working full time. He hopes to use his newly-gained knowledge and skills to obtain work in the winery business and perhaps even start his own winery.
More than 190 students earned more than one degree, and two earned seven degrees each. Nipomo resident Eric Bonaventure earned AA degrees in physics; mathematics with a physics emphasis; engineering; chemistry; liberal arts; liberal arts-transfer: math and science; and transfer studies. Luke Gebauer of Arroyo Grande earned AA degrees in physics; mathematics with a physics emphasis; mathematics with a computer science emphasis; engineering; chemistry; liberal arts; and transfer studies
Graduation was a family affair for many Allan Hancock College graduates, including mother and daughter graduates Teresa and Katheryn Gardner; husband and wife pairs, Shawn and Cara Jones and Bruce Vang and Barbara Yang; brothers Jay and Adam Lopez; brother and sister pairs Konrad and Hanne Wolff and Trevor and Meagan Kruger; sisters Lavinia Gomez and Jessica Lemus; Kaitlan and Kandace Combs; and Lucia and Lylyvett Herrera; and cousins Morgan and Brittany Hammond.
Graduate lists are available by area: