Speakers included SBCC Superintendent/President Dr. Andreea Serban; SBCC Continuing Education Vice President Dr. Ofelia R. Arellano; and three student speakers Martha Patricia Oregel (alumna), Bryan Martinez, and Amanda Elliott. Dr. Arellano greeted the students, their families and guests in both Spanish and English and acknowledged the accomplishments of the graduates. Dr. Serban congratulated the graduates and urged them to continue their education and enroll in college. “College education is the great equalizer and will open doors for you.” She added, “I hope to see all of you at the SBCC commencement in two or three years.” Along with Dr. Arellano, SBCC Board President Dr. Peter Haslund presented the diplomas to each of the 69 graduates.
Students who enroll in the Adult High School/GED Program represent a wide range of ages and backgrounds. They include many non-traditional students including older adults, at-risk youth, re-entry students, single parents, immigrants. The programs are the only avenue for some of the students to complete their secondary education. They work with their teachers, advisors and counselors throughout the year towards the completion of the academic and personal goals. For some of the students, earning their diploma or certificate is a milestone and provides an incentive to focus on continuing their post-secondary education.
Keynote speaker and graduate Bryan Martinez came from Mexico City to Santa Barbara in 2006 to join his mother and brothers who were already living here. “I couldn’t get a good job because I didn’t have my high school diploma,” he said. Bryan enrolled in the Adult High School Program at SBCC Continuing Education’s Schott Center and took a wide range of classes from ESL to computers. From the knowledge he gained in the classroom, Bryan successfully opened his own small business with a focus on providing personal care attendant services to clients. His goal now is to enroll at SBCC in the fall and to study health care. “I’m very interested in helping people,” he said. “The Adult High School program changed my life. I encourage others to do it, too.”
A resident of Solvang, fellow keynote speaker Amanda Elliott started in the Adult High School Program in 2004. After 10 months, she had to drop out because of family issues. But Amanda returned in June 2010 with motivation to complete the program and will enroll at SBCC in the fall. “I plan to start in the Certified Nursing Assistant Program and eventually become a registered nurse,” she said. “My grandmother was a nurse and is my inspiration. I have a passion for the medical field and nursing.” She added, “Nothing should hold anyone back from school. Keep going and pursue your dreams.”