Oxnard College held its 43rd Annual Commencement Wednesday evening, May 16, 2018. In total, 1,680 students received an associate of arts degree or a certificate of achievement. For a full album of commencement photos, please view our gallery posted on our Oxnard College Facebook page.
The following was published by the Ventura County Star in the May 17 article Oxnard College Graduates Celebrate Finding their Passion:
For many of the students graduating from Oxnard College, the degree isn’t only a symbol of their hard work and accomplishments for two years, but rather a promise of an even brighter future. At the graduation ceremony for Oxnard College on Wednesday evening, 1,680 graduates — ranging in age from 17 to 63 — walked across the stage to accept their degrees and certificates. Of those graduating, more than 200 are transferring to a university in the fall, said Oxnard College President Cynthia Azari. Those who are planning on transferring held up signs at one point in the ceremony with the name of the university they would attend. Many will go on to attend CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo in the fall.
“For many of you, you are the first in your family to attend college,” Azari told the graduates during the ceremony. “But you will not be the last. You are trailblazers, and you have set the example for others in your family.”
Graduation marked the beginning of a different life for Tina Secrease and her children. The mother of three graduated with an associate degree in communication studies.
“Growing up, I had told myself that everyone else had something they were good at; why didn’t I?” Secrease said. “I had told myself that I was lacking. I always thought that talent had to come in a certain package, whether that was a musical talent, an artistic ability or being able to breeze through classes with straight A’s. I never fit into those boxes.”
Secrease said she barely had the grades to graduate from high school, so she joined the Navy, serving for eight years in several countries as a hospital corpsman. She wanted to help people — she always knew that — and even after spending eight years helping people while in the Navy, she still felt incomplete. Four years ago, Secrease found herself homeless, jobless and a single mother of three. She said she was upset that the hours it took her to get out of that situation took time away from her family and her passion for volunteering. That’s when she decided to pursue higher education.
“I loved helping others. My talent is my passion. My talent is my commitment to making a difference in the lives of other people,” Secrease said. “I realize that sometimes your talent is more what you can do or give to others.”
She said it took her years of traveling the world, caring for service members and living through homelessness to realize “it isn’t talent, but rather passion” that can lead a person to success. She’ll go on to CSU Channel Islands in the fall and hopes to pursue a career in public relations and community development.
During the ceremony, which lasted several hours on the field at Oxnard College, Ventura County Community College District Chancellor Greg Gillespie led the graduates in creating a call of the condor — the college’s mascot.
“Education creates opportunity,” Gillespie told the graduates and the crowd packed onto the field and in the stands. “You were helped by many others to reach this achievement — friends, family, faculty and staff. As you continue on to careers and further education, reach out and help others.”
The Oxnard College graduation was the first of the three local Ventura County Community College District commencement ceremonies.
“You are here because you believed in yourself. Your family and friends believed in you, as did your faculty and staff,” said Art Hernandez, chair of the Ventura County Community College District Board of Trustees, during the ceremony. “Oxnard College will always be your beginning, the place you chose to begin your path to educational and career success. Your path began with a small step, and you have achieved your goals. Education is your passport to a whole new world. Go out and explore all the possibilities that will unfold in front of you.”
For a full album of commencement photos, please view our gallery posted on our Oxnard College Facebook page.