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San Diego Continuing Education

Office of Communications

Adult Students are Turning Tassels and Turning Pages

SAN DIEGO – San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE) will honor 1,049 graduates during Commencement at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park on Wednesday, May 30 at 5 p.m. The ceremony is in collaboration with the San Diego Unified School District’s Adult High School Diploma Program.

The graduates are nontraditional because most are adults who have been away from the classroom for many years. Approximately 425 graduates are expected to participate in the ceremony, including 67-year-old Lucinda Rubio-Barrick, who completed a Job Training/Certificate Program for Culinary Arts, and 61-year old LuAnn Stalmer who completed a Job Training/Certificate Program for Nursing Assistant. “Health care will be the last career in my life,” said Stalmer. “I love helping people, and bringing them a little peace.” Stalmer will also complete the Home Health Aide program at SDCE this summer.

At the ceremony, SDCE’s alumni speaker, Dr. Grace Sousa, will offer her personal story and educational success as an inspiration to the new graduates. Sousa dropped out of school in the 8th grade and pursued a nontraditional educational pathway beginning in adult education classes for GED preparation, 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.

Adult students make the decision to re-enter the classroom for a variety of reasons, which means their success is based on different factors. Many have overcome very challenging life situations return the classroom to complete High School Diplomas or prepare for the GED. This step could mean successful transition to a credit college and ultimately acquiring a degree. For others who are looking to enter or advance in the workforce within a short time frame, success means learning relevant job skills by completing specific training in a certificate program so they can get to work.

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. This year, awards include 184 GEDs, 399 High School Diplomas, and 466 certificates of completion for career and technical education programs (e.g. for nursing assistants, culinary arts, and automotive technicians). Ninety five (95) students will benefit from 104 scholarship awards totaling $25,700.

“Continuing Education students have an advantage over others,” said Dr. Anthony Beebe, President of San Diego Continuing Education. “When students enroll in Continuing Education, even for a few classes before applying for college, data show they are more successful than those who do not. This is the Continuing Education Advantage, and SDCE has been recognized as a state leader in providing adult education that helps students transition to college.”

As the adult education division of the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD), SDCE serves 90,000+ students each year from six main campuses around San Diego. Eligible SDCE students are given priority registration to City, Mesa, and Miramar Colleges. “Priority registration is a great incentive for our students who are looking to transition to college,” said Dr. Brian Ellison, Vice President of Instruction and Student Services at Continuing Education. “During a time when the state budget crisis is impacting enrollments at every community college in the state, having priority registration is an important advantage.”

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.

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San Diego Continuing Education is the adult education division of the San Diego Community College District.
SDCE was one of the first continuing education institutions in California to meet the standards for independent accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. More than 90,000 students are served per academic year at six main campuses in San Diego. Noncredit classes are available at no cost, including online options.

Certificate programs are offered for numerous industries including: Automotive Technician, Child Development, Culinary Arts, Nursing Assistant training, Professional Bakeshop Skills, and Plumbing. Classes are free because San Diego Continuing Education is part of the California system of higher education. Funding also comes through business and industry partnerships. Learn more at