College of the Desert is celebrating the Class of 2021 during a virtual commencement ceremony, which was released earlier today. To view the ceremony, please visit www.collegeofthedesert.edu/2021commencement.
This year’s graduates represent the largest class of earned associated degrees in the school’s history. They also represent the third class of students from the College’s plEDGE program, which offers local high school graduates two years of free tuition and fees.
“You have overcome unimaginable obstacles this past year and you have met those challenges head-on,” said Interim Superintendent/President Jeff Baker. “You and your families have much to be proud of, and I applaud the dedication and determination each and every one of you has shown as you pursued your dreams of a better tomorrow.”
Available for viewing during the Summer and Fall 2021 semesters, the ceremony features remarks from Interim Superintendent/President Jeff Baker, Faculty of the Year Oceana Collins and Student Speakers Sandra Villa and Monserrat Salazar. The virtual commencement also contains a special thank you to President Emeritus Joel. L. Kinnamon, Ed.D., who retired from the College in March, and is credited with many of the student success programs currently deployed at the College.
Student speaker Sandra Villa, a Liberal Arts major, proves that nothing is impossible with hard work and determination. Arriving in the U.S. when she was just 17, she learned to read and write in English in less than six months and graduated high school after being in the U.S. for less than a year and a half. Financial obstacles forced her to drop out of college, but she returned in 2019 determined to earn her degree and make a better life for herself and her family.
“For a Dreamer like me, nothing can be taken for granted. I was the first one in my family to graduate from high school. Now, I am the first to graduate from college. And, if God permits, I’ll be the first immigration attorney in my family.”
Student speaker Monserrat Salazar, an Early Childhood Education major, says she never dreamed that she would be graduating college at the age of 32. In March 2019, six months pregnant with her fifth child, she unexpectedly lost her husband of 10 years. Despite her grief, she returned to school to earn her degree. According to Salazar, College of the Desert and the demands of homework, essays and finals helped her get through some of her darkest days.
“It takes a lot of initiative, self-trust, confidence and perseverance to achieve and complete every single goal we set our minds to. It’s a matter of making the right decisions to help yourself achieve these goals and set new ones. And even though life can be full of obstacles and changes, know that you can, and will, get through it.”