More than 1,000 students celebrated the culmination of their time at Merced College during the commencement ceremony Friday in the college’s stadium.
A total of 891 degrees and 247 certificates of achievement were earned this year by Merced College graduates, according to the college.
Curtis Brown, 55, of Atwater earned an associate’s in criminal justice, a field he’s been interested in for many years. He said about 15 members of his family were in the audience to celebrate the achievement.
As the father of five, grandfather of 13 and great-grandfather of two, he has plenty of family backing him up.
“I’ve always wanted to go into law, and I put it off,” he said. “You’re never too old to go to school.”
The army veteran said he’s worked as a surgical technician for 23 years, but would like to eventually get his law degree.
Graduates streamed across the stage to accept degrees and certificates in the college’s 52nd ceremony. The home and visitor team sides of the stadium filled up with cheering friends and family.
The ceremony marked another milestone in the road for Cindy Roberts, who earned three two-year degrees – business, economics and management. It’s likely she’s not done with school, said the 46-year-old from Merced, but completing her time at Merced College was exciting.
“I’ve been doing this part time for five years,” she said. “It means a lot to me.”
She was one of five students recognized with the Superintendent Honors during the ceremony, because they completed at least 36 units of study with a 4.0 grade-point average. Her husband and children were in the crowd.
Ninety other students earned honors.
Still another graduate, Heidi Tennesen, 21, of Chowchilla, said she’s excited about her time on a four-year campus. The member of Chowchilla High’s Class of 2012 wants to be a registered dietitian.
“Honestly, I’m looking forward to the (four-year campus),” she said. “It’s a lot more people and more opportunity.”
She said about half a dozen people were in the school’s stadium to cheer her on.
About 170 students from the Los Banos campus also participated in the ceremony. Several dozen were part of ceremony earlier this month on the Westside campus.
Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, of the 21st Assembly District, gave the keynote address, which he titled “Liberty and Justice.”
Students and staff also took time to honor military veterans who graduated this year.
AT A GLANCE
Merced College awards
Superintendent Honors: 5
*Source: Merced College’s Office of Public Affairs