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59th OCC graduation makes history

The school's youngest commencement speaker, its oldest (probably) student body president and a new degree mark the ceremony.

May 27, 2007|By Michael Miller

COSTA MESA — Michaela Bryant witnessed some formative years at Orange Coast College — the school's, and her own.

The Anaheim resident who delivered the student commencement address at OCC's graduation Friday was all of 17 when she took the microphone at the Pacific Amphitheater. Michaela began taking OCC classes as a high school sophomore while being home-schooled by her mother, and during her three years at OCC, she also watched the campus grow around her.

"While OCC is building itself into a more modern, high-tech campus, we are constructing our future," she said during her speech. "As new buildings flourished, so did our minds. During our time here, Watson Hall was created, we got a new Fitness Center, and who could forget the Starbucks next to the gigantic Arts Pavilion?"

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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 michael.miller@latimes.com.

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