San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE) honored 1,927 graduates during Commencement at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park on Wednesday, May 30 at 5 p.m. The ceremony was held in collaboration with San Diego Unified School District’s Adult High School Diploma Program.
Although the celebrations mirrored plenty of pomp and circumstance tradition with cheering, photographs, and shouts of congratulations, the graduates themselves were nontraditional. Most had been away from the classroom for many years. Including 74-year-old Dorothy Taylor, who received her high school equivalency (GED). Taylor proudly walked across the stage as the oldest graduate in this year’s class. Among her was 61-year old LuAnn Stalmer who completed a Nursing Assistant program, plus an additional 1,000+ adults who completed a high school diploma, a GED equivalency, or a short-term job training program.
Continuing Education is the largest institution of its kind in the nation, serving 90,000+ students annually. “Today’s celebration honors the largest class of its kind in the state of California,” said Dr. Anthony E. Beebe, President of Continuing Education. “This year, total awards include 164 GEDs, 277 High School Diplomas, and 1,486 certificates of completion for career and technical education programs.”
At the ceremony, student speakers shared inspirational stories, including SDCE’s alumni speaker, Dr. Grace Sousa who dropped out of school in the eighth grade and returned to the classroom at age 24. She continued nontraditional educational pathway beginning with receiving a GED and culminating when she earned a Doctor of Medicine degree. Sousa’s story is similar to those of many Continuing Education students who find success in classrooms as adults, after the traditional educational system has failed them.
Student speaker Cannatha Peutz, Sr. completed her GED and reminded the students about the power of education. “We have the key now, let’s start opening some doors,” she said.
Administrators and VIPs also shared encouraging remarks. Dr. Constance Carroll, Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District reminded students that by graduating, they are furthering great efforts in our state, and our nation. “Your success also improves the economic health of our community and state,” she said. “You are also doing your part to help our president, Barack Obama, transform America by making it number one again in world educational achievement.”
SDCE is the adult education division of SDCCD, and has been recognized as a state leader in providing adult education that helps students transition to college. Eligible SDCE students are given priority registration to City, Mesa, and Miramar Colleges. Regardless of their goals, a majority of students come to Continuing Education in need of basic skills in reading, writing, English, and/or math, or to complete a short-term job training program.
As reported in the Economic Impact on Region report prepared by Economic Modeling Specialists, SDCCD plays a significant role in the local economy and is a sound investment from multiple perspectives. Students benefit from improved lifestyles and increased earnings. Taxpayers benefit from a larger economy and lower social costs. Finally, the community as a whole benefits from increased job and investment opportunities, higher business revenues, greater availability of public funds, and an eased tax burden.
Congratulations to this year’s graduating class!