For OCC, the 2006-07 school year was filled with firsts. The school had not only its youngest commencement speaker but also, probably, its oldest student body president, 68-year-old Lynne Riddle, who led the Pledge of Allegiance on Friday. In addition, faculty commencement speaker Terry Timmins said the 82 student clubs this year were an OCC record.
"When students get involved in these kinds of extracurricular activities, it shows they're dedicated to the learning community," Timmins said.
The college honored a total of 2,145 students Friday evening, with more than half of them receiving associate in arts degrees and 273 earning degrees in science — the first that the school has ever awarded.
Administrators presented honorary science degrees to three retired aerospace engineers — Henry Blaes, Francis Eastman and Don Nankivil — who have served as volunteer tutors on campus for years. Paul Selecky, a pulmonary specialist from Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and a longtime OCC ally, won the outstanding citizen award.
After the recessional march, students exulted outside with their families. Martha Torres, who earned an associate in arts degree in human services, went to OCC with the aid of the Orangewood Children's Foundation's Guardian Scholars Program, which provides scholarships to former foster children.
"I'm so happy now that it's done," Torres said. "I'm ready for the next step."
Cicely Allen, who majored in general education, said she was eager to transfer to UC Davis but relished the last few years.
OCC GRADUATES BY THE NUMBERS
Orange Coast College graduated 2,145 students at Friday's 59th commencement. More than half of them planned to move on to four-year universities; a number of them received associate in science degrees, which OCC offered for the first time this year. Here's how the class of 2007 breaks down.
Associate in arts degree: 1,435
Associate in science degree: 273
Certificates of completion: 437
Transfers to California State University schools: 960
Transfers to University of California schools: 245
"My time at OCC has been amazing," she said. "The people are amazing."
MICHAEL MILLER may be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.