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After two long years of writing research papers and studying for exams, 1,153 students at East Los Angeles College celebrated their Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 30 at the football Stadium from 6-8 pm.
Although East Los Angeles has a reputation for enrolling as well as graduating the most Hispanic students in any college in Los Angeles, the 14th college to enroll Asian students, with 4 to 5 percent African American students, this college has demonstrated that there aren’t any limitations or excuses for their students to receive their degrees.
“Life is too short, receive your education while its still here,” Delanie Leonard said. “There is no guarantee that the education will be here forever. It’s never too late to learn, but when you stay focused, your dreams will come true.”
Leonard is 28 years old and is one of the few African American males to graduate from East Los Angeles College. He said he’s excited about earning his Associates Degree in liberal arts and teaching, and plans to continue his education at California State University of Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) with an interest in education. His long-term goal is to become a teacher, he said.
“I would like to attend CSUDH since my dad went there.” Although, my father didn’t get a chance to finish his B.A. degree, I have to do it for him. My main focus is to better myself and to better other people’s lives,” said Leonard.
Leonard is not the only student pursuing a career in education. Monique Padilla has also received her degree in liberal arts and teaching, and has been awarded a JA & M Johnson teaching scholarship and a cheerleading medallion to support her future endeavors.
According to the East Los Angeles scholarship foundation Website, The JA and M Johnson Future Teachers Endowment was established in 1999. It is awarded to students who are pursuing a career in teaching, and may need financial assistance to help them achieve their goals. Many students who are granted this award come from singled-parent homes.
In the fall 2008, Padilla plans to attend California State University Los Angeles in Education (CSULA), and receive her Bachelor of Arts degree. However, earning a B. A degree at CSULA does not stop there; she plans on striving towards her Master Degree and becoming an Elementary School teacher. Although, her accomplishments did not come on a silver platter, she faced many obstacles and challenges while striving towards her degree.
“My sister struggled with drugs and my mother and I had to take [care of her children],” Padilla said. “This was hard for me to focus on school work because I had to change my schedule since the kids come first, but it worked out at the end and now my sister is doing better.”
Nevertheless, 22-year-old Song Yang from China has also demonstrated that experiencing challenges only strengthen his ability to succeed under any circumstance. Under those circumstances, Yang was faced with a language barrier and adapting to the new culture in United States. After receiving majority of his education in Singapore, Yang discovered that the education in United States showed him a different perspective on learning.
“United States teachers inspires you to do more critical thinking and search beyond the textbook,” Yang said.” In China, you go strictly by the textbooks.”
Yang graduated with a Business and Administration degree, but will switch his focus to economics when he attends University of California Berkeley in the fall 2008 semester.