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​Commencement is May 24, 2013

The annual graduation ceremony on May 24, beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Boone Field, is the highlight of the year for College of the Desert’s (COD) faculty, staff and especially the students. The evening is filled with color and pageantry, short speeches, and the traditional caps and gowns and distribution of hard-earned diplomas. For the first time, this year’s ceremony will include acknowledging the hard work of the students who earn certificates in their chosen fields of study.

Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., will be the keynote speaker. “It is truly an honor to be able to address the College of the Desert Class of 2013 as they commemorate their outstanding achievements,” said Dr. Ruiz. “Education is a pillar of the American Dream and the cornerstone of success, and these students are one step closer to achieving their dreams because of their and their family’s hard work and commitment to academic excellence. I look forward to joining the graduates and their families as they celebrate this landmark day for the Coachella Valley.”

Over 700 students are eligible to walk in the graduation processional and over 300 are expected to participate. Certificate-earning students will don the same regalia but instead of a tassel on their cap they will drape a red cord over the shoulders of their gowns. Almost two hundred certificates have been earned in the past year. Many students have earned more than one. In addition to the students, a large number of faculty and staff attend the ceremony, and the college continues to have crowds of 1,700 observers turn out to cheer on family members and friends who are graduating.

This year there are a number of students graduating with highest honors. Deborah Suer and Shi Tang have been selected as commencement speakers to represent the student body. They will be introduced by Adrian Gonzales, Interim Vice President, Student Affairs. Each will talk about his/her educational journey.

Deborah Suer has had many successes at COD. Last year she earned an Associate of Arts (AA) Degree and Certificate in Alcohol & Drug Studies. This year she is achieving an additional AA Degree in Liberal Arts, Humanities and Communication. She is a member of the honor society Phi Theta Kappa and was selected to represent COD as part of the All-California Academic Team. Just this year, through the help of the College of the Desert Foundation, Suer was selected to travel to Washington, D.C., to watch the Presidential Inaugural Conference and President Obama be sworn into office. When first beginning her adult educational journey 9 semesters ago, Suer found herself in classes with students who easily could have been her children or grandchildren. That only caused a bump in the road for her as she discovered that everyone in the class shared the same common goals, “to empower our lives through education, succeed in a career of our choice and to build relationships that will help us become a strong community.”

Shi Tang is an international student from China. He began learning English at an institution in Los Angeles. After not making much progress, he heard about COD’s Intensive English Academy available through the International Education Program. Upon transferring he quickly made significant progress and enrolled as a full-time student pursuing his degree in biology. Tang will continue his studies next fall to complete a degree in chemistry. His goal is to transfer to a university to pursue a medical degree. Tang states that he had a lot of help from many departments on campus. One of those was the Tutoring and Academic Skills Center (TASC). He had become a fixture in the lab writing his papers. The TASC provided him not only English tutoring support but eventually a student worker position that allowed him to help other students succeed in their studies, as well. Tang stated, “Without the support of the IEP, TASC and everyone at COD, I would not have grown this much in these years.”

Highlights will include: presentation of colors by COD’s Public Safety Academy Color Guard; the pledge of allegiance led by John Arroyo, President, Associated Students of College of the Desert; and welcome remarks by COD President Dr. Joel L. Kinnamon. Douglas Redman, Assistant Professor, Automotive/Advanced Transportation and Chair of the Curriculum Committee, will present the Faculty of the Year Award to Zerryl Becker, Professor Computer Information Systems and President, Academic Senate, who will deliver an address. Also in attendance will be Dr. Fred Jandt, Dean, CSUSB Palm Desert Campus. 

Degrees will be awarded by President Kinnamon and Michael O’Neill, Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Entertainment will be provided by students in COD’s Jazz Studies Program, directed by Dr. Anthony Fesmire, Associate Professor, Music. The student ensemble consists of Sarah Hagar, Tanya Nunez, vocals; Marco Murrieta, guitar; Juan Espino, piano; James Gastelum, Bass; and Jose Ceja, on drums.   

Following Commencement, students, families and friends will gather at Wright Gymnasium for a reception and refreshments in an event sponsored by the COD Alumni Association.

May 2013