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Barstow Community College students graduate, look ahead
BARSTOW • Barstow Community College’s 51st graduating class walked across the stage and received their diplomas Friday evening.
The class consisted of 244 women and 156 men and ranged in age from 15 to 74. One mother and daughter received their degrees together.
Barstow College President Thom Armstrong said that despite the troubling economy, obtaining postsecondary education was still a worthwhile endeavor. As the baby boomer generation retires over the next 15 years, they will need to be replaced by younger workers, Armstrong said.
“As a group, those with certificates and degrees are unemployed the least and the first to be hired,” Armstrong said.
Despite those challenges, students were optimistic.
Salutatorian Aniceta Gutierrez said attending college was a challenging first step, but worth it in the end. Attending Barstow College brought her the advantages of a small campus and the chance to meet her fiance at a school bake sale, she said.
“Everyone here made a decision to not let those obstacles interfere with our dreams and aspirations,” valedictorian Jasmine Alderson said.
The commencement speaker, Marine Corps Logistics Base commander Col. Dan Ermer, urged students to stay motivated and continue their education. For students that were not motivated, he joked that a stint in the United States Marine Corps would straighten them out.
“We all need to push ourselves or at times be pushed by others to achieve new heights,” Ermer said, describing himself as a poor college student who later found his place as a leader in the armed forces.
For 41-year-old Andrew Maes, who received degrees both in business and management, graduating was the culmination of four years of study. Maes also used his community college units to obtain his high school diploma from Barstow High School last year.
“It’s a great honor to graduate,” Maes said, who credited his church for helping him learn public speaking skills and raising money for his studies. He said he plans to attend Park University to earn a bachelor’s degree.
For others like Terence Robles, who earned his associate’s degree in computer science and plans to begin studying at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas this fall, it was another rite of passage checked off.
“You get through it, and you get to the next stage in life,” Robles said.
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