It’s graduation season at Art Division! Alongside their classes here, many of our students are also enrolled in community colleges and four-year colleges. This June saw several graduations: Leslie Martinez, Essence Petty, Mika Muyongo and Luis Ramirez from Santa Monica College; Melanie Deas from Pasadena City College; and Leslie Villamil from East LA College. Four will be transferring to four-year colleges in the fall.
Art Division Artistic Director Dan McCleary and College and Career Counselor Ellie Herman attended the graduation at Santa Monica College to cheer on our graduates on Tuesday, June 13 at 5 pm. A huge crowd filled the bleachers, waving balloons, bouquets, signs and even arrangements of dollar bills to celebrate the occasion.
To wild applause, Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffrey, Superintendent and President of Santa Monica College, introduced the commencement ceremony, the first to be held in person since the pre-pandemic days of 2019. She pointed out with pride that all of the assembled graduates had overcome significant obstacles in accomplishing their graduation, during a time when a record number of students dropped out of community colleges altogether. These graduates, however, persisted even through the isolation and confusion of the pandemic. According to Dr. Jeffrey, over 6,000 students graduated this June, one of the largest numbers in the history of Santa Monica College.
After several other inspirational speeches from graduates and professors, thousands of graduates walked the stage, each one cheered on by elated friends and family members. Due to the unprecedented number of graduates, the ceremony went on for an extremely long time, so long that Dan and Ellie told and re-told every story they had ever known. Though Ellie estimated, at a rate of one graduate every five seconds, that the ceremony would take 8.3 hours, her math was questionable; some two hours later, Art Division students Essence Petty and Leslie Martinez crossed the stage, to wild applause.
Essence will attend Cal State Long Beach in the fall, along with Mika Muyango, who also graduated from SMC but chose not to attend the ceremony. Leslie Martinez has already begun her studies at CSU Long Beach. In addition, Leslie Villamil, who graduated from East LA College, will transfer to CSU Long Beach this fall.
Melanie Deas will transfer from Pasadena City College to CSU Northridge. Luis Ramirez will transfer from Santa Monica College to UCLA. Piper Kinion will transfer from Santa Monica college to California College of the Arts.
All of us at Art Division are proud of the hard work and dedication of our college students, who have persisted despite all of the challenges of the pandemic, and who often hold down full-time jobs in addition to their studies. Congratulations, scholars!