San Diego Continuing Education and San Diego Unified School District will celebrate a joint 2018 commencement ceremony at 5 p.m. Friday, June 1 at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.
The ceremony will honor 400+ graduates and will award 115 diplomas and 5,583 certificates in more than 70 career areas including Welding, Digital Design, Plumbing and Culinary Arts.
“As an institution that is committed to social justice and inclusion, it is important to recognize the different races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds we embody to bring greater awareness to one another,” said Carlos O. Turner Cortez, Ph.D., SDCE President. “The multiculturalism and resiliency of our students is one of our major strengths to impact the community.”
As adult learners, many SDCE graduates have pursued higher education intermittently while overcoming various challenges (e.g. financial, family obligations, childcare issues) and are often returning to the classroom after many years to change careers, sharpen skills or earn a diploma.
“We are so proud of them for coming to SDCE and creating a vision for themselves. Commencement day is a great way for students to acknowledge their hard work and persistence amongst their family and friends,” said President Turner Cortez.
“I dropped out of school my senior year of high school,” said Yesenia Lopez. “My priorities were different.” Lopez, SDCE’s student speaker, returned to school 15 years later to finish her diploma at SDCE since dropping out as a teenage mom.
Now at 32, the mother of four says, “I’m the first one in my entire family to earn a diploma. I remember as a young girl watching my mom clean other people’s homes and just promising myself that one day I would be able to take care of her.” Lopez plans to attend San Diego City College before transferring to California State University of San Marcos for a degree in sociology. “My daughters have already decided what university they want to attend, now it is my job to show them it’s possible.”
Karina Sanchez, 41, enrolled in SDCE’s Acquired Brain Injury program in 2005 after suffering a severe brain injury from a scorpion sting in Mexico. At just 16 years old her life changed forever. Sanchez had to begin her high school education over and adjust life to her disabilities. Sanchez looks forward to walking with her fellow 2018 graduates, “I can’t believe it. The thought makes me speechless.” Sanchez is considering attending San Diego Mesa College and pursuing a career with animals.
More than 100 SDCE faculty will sit proudly alongside the class of 2018 on Friday, June 1 wearing their alumni regalia. Students will be recognized with academic cords of achievement based on completion of a high school diploma or equivalency (white cords), or a certificate program (blue cords).
Students who earn a diploma or certificate from SDCE often plan to transition to the San Diego Community College District’s City, Mesa and Miramar colleges.
The 2018 SDCE graduating scholars were granted $200,000 in scholarships in April.
This year, the San Diego Community College District awarded a record number of degrees and certificates to SDCE, City, Mesa, and Miramar College students at 10,751 distributed total.