The successes of thousands of Glendale Community College students were celebrated Wednesday night on the school’s Sartoris Field, where 400 associate’s degrees, 676 transfer degrees and a record 1,290 graduation petitions were bestowed, highlighting a stellar year for the college.
Much like an exploding can of soda, the crowd overflowed beyond the stands and onto the stadium field, into the corridors and even up the hill overlooking the football field.
David Viar, president/superintendent of Glendale Community College, hailed a diverse group of students who arrived on campus for various reasons and will now leave on divergent paths.
“Graduates, I know you will make us proud by using your intelligence and your character to make better our local, state, national and world communities,” Viar said. “You have enriched our lives at Glendale Community College, and we hope we have helped to transform yours.”
One student honored was Crescenta Valley High School graduate Michelle Garabetian, who was named the 2018-19 Glendale Community College Student of Distinction.
Garabetian likened her experience at the college to being a long-distance runner, which she is.
“I connected the thought of running the [L.A. Marathon] to my time at Glendale Community College,” said Garabetian, who finished the marathon course in five hours, 42 minutes and 33 seconds in March. “I asked myself, did I want to sprint through these next two years and be a commuter on campus, simply transfer as quickly as I can?”
The UCLA bound-student continued, “Or did I want to spend my time at GCC similar to that of a marathon? Taking the time to stop and notice the wonderful clubs, organizations and people surrounding me each step of the way.”
One student not initially expecting to speak Wednesday was sophomore William Melikyan, president of the Associated Students of Glendale Community College, who took over the post last summer after elected president David Khechumyan resigned to enroll at USC.
“Today marks a new chapter in all our lives, a chapter filled with greater opportunities and more memorable experiences, like the ones we’ve had at GCC,” Melikyan said.
Piper Rooney, Academic Senate president, reminded graduates to be grateful for the help they’ve received.
“You’re here this evening because of those supporters, and we hope, in part, because of us, your counselors, your instructors and all the members of the college who have had a chance to encounter you along your path to this moment,” Rooney said.
While many of the graduates enrolled at Glendale Community College to seek a career, Crisso Hernandez, a graduate of Los Angeles Downtown Magnets High School, said she was searching for a deal.
“Personally, I wanted to go to community college first to pay less,” said Hernandez, who plans to attend Cal State Los Angeles, in the fall. “That was a big point why I did it, and I wanted to stay local for my family.”
While Hernandez looks to continue her education, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame alumnus Aldo Puccini said before Wednesday’s graduation ceremony he was ready to start his career.
“I’m really excited, and I’ve been waiting for this moment for a really long time,” said Puccini, who earned an associate’s degree in architectural drafting and design. “I’m ready to be independent and start my own business thanks to GCC.”