June Gloom couldn’t stop the sun from beaming down on Pierce College.
And with Shepard Stadium spilling out of its maximum capacity, these Brahmas were shining bright like a diamond.
Pierce celebrated its 75th commencement ceremony at the stadium Thursday.
Chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District Francisco Rodriguez addressed the stadium and thanked Pierce for the honor of being the speaker. Rodriguez called the ceremony “a celebration of resistance, of persistence, of struggle, of vision, of might, of staying to it and never giving up.”
“Make no mistake, this investment that you make, that you have made in education, to continue your education, to go into the workplace and perhaps come back for more degrees and more certificates in the future, is universally recognized as the gold standard,” said Rodriguez, who is a first generation immigrant and an English language learner from a working class family. “There is no better investment that you can make than in education. Education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century.”
As the graduates walked to their seats, they were greeted with music from the Pierce Symphony Band, which included “Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar and a rendition of selected music from the video game series The Legend of Zelda. The National Anthem was interpreted by the Pierce American Sign Language students.
Academic Senate President Barbara Anderson presided over the event as master of ceremonies.
Among the advice from “your Tío Pancho” Rodriguez is one about tackling the unknown.
“Do it anyway. Feel the need to change and improve this society,” Rodriguez said. “That’s the charge to you. It’s not a diploma that you hang on a wall with pride. That is also the case, but it’s the diploma that symbolizes that you have arrived and that you are starting to change the world in this capacity to make it a better place.”
Associated Student Organization President Qais Azizi thanked Pierce administration, faculty and staff for their continued support of students in his speech, and congratulated the graduating class on behalf of ASO.
“We have encouraged and supported each other and now we are here achieving one of our academic goals together today,” said Azizi, who graduated as a Biology major. “I’m thankful for my time as ASO president and appreciative of the opportunity to represent Pierce College as a student leader.”
Azizi, who is deciding between UCLA or Princeton University, hopes to have left students with “some encouraging words.”
“Some of us graduates are leaving here tonight with a full time job,” said Azizi near the end of his speech. “Others are starting their own business and others are transferring to a four-year institution. Wherever your path leads, we are celebrating our accomplishments together.”
Among the recollection of favorite memories in a prerecorded message by students was the helpfulness of Communications Professor Yeprem Davoodian by Melissa Almaraz, a pre-nursing student who spoke of Davoodian’s devotion to helping her succeed.
“I didn’t know I had that much likability I guess,” said Davoodian, who felt honored to be mentioned. “I am surprised but we have amazing students, and it always feels good when they recognize that they’ve gone through either a class or they’ve come into contact with faculty, not only me, but anyone else, and you remember that person and you recognize them.”
As a former Cal State Northridge student who took classes at Pierce, Pasadena City College and Glendale City College, Davoodian offered advice for graduating students and for those who are starting their college career.
“When they say ‘stop and smell the roses,’ take in, meet your peers, get to know the campus, get to know the students of the class with you and then get involved on campus so you’re better able to create a sense of family,” Davoodian said. “Once you have a family and you love where you’re at, everything else comes into play.”
With graduates moving their tassels from right to left, the ceremony concludes as they walk out of the stadium and off campus.
For more coverage about the event, please visit The Roundup News.
To relive the moment, please visit the LA Pierce College YouTube Channel.