By Rebeca Vega
Anthropology major Noemi Solano waited eight years after graduating high school before she decided to enroll in classes at East Los Angeles College.
The Woodrow Wilson High School alumn said she made the commitment to earn an associate degree within two years of enrolling when she met up with her former classmates. “I have two friends who finished law school and that really put it in perspective for me,” Solano said.
Solano will join the ranks of her friends as a fellow college graduate when she and more than 800 other Elans cross the stage at Weingart Stadium during ELAC’s Spring 2012 Graduation and Commencement Ceremony on June 1. Participants will include students who petitioned and were approved to graduate this semester, as well as in the summer 2011 and fall 2011.
According to event details posted on the ELAC website, the gates to the stadium will open at 5 p.m. and the two-hour long ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free and graduates can invite as many people as they wish. Guests can park in the ASU Parking Structure and in the Weingart Stadium Lot.
Graduating students need to wear a cap, gown, hood and tassel, which they can purchase at the bookstore up until June 1. Graduation announcements are also available at the bookstore for $1.75 each. Dean of Student Activities and Student Services Sonia Lopez said that during the ceremony graduates will receive a “dummy” diploma with instructions on when and how to pick up their real diplomas.
Members from the ELAC community who will help bid Elans farewell during the ceremony include Interim President Tyree Wieder, Philosophy professor Ramon Posada and student Ana Hernandez.
According to Vice President of Student Services Oscar Valeriano, faculty and ASU members personally invited Wieder to act as the keynote speaker for the ceremony after the original keynote speaker turned down the role. Valeriano supports the decision and explained why students would nominate her. “She has an open door policy reflective of her nature and of who she is. ‘East’ has always been frowned upon and she speaks up for us with a background in student services” he said.
Posada was voted by students to act as the master of ceremony for the event while Hernandez auditioned as student speaker and was chosen by a committee. ELAC’s Graduation Committee met on Thursday to finalize the details of three other events taking place on graduation day.
Graduating and non-graduating students can attend the student reception that will take place on June 1 from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. in the auditorium foyer. The event is informal and guests will have the opportunity to personally meet with and talk to the college president. A mandatory rehearsal for all graduating students will begin after the student reception at noon, behind the Technology Center, E-7.
Retiring faculty will be honored at the faculty reception starting at 4:30 p.m. in the patio to the right of the women’s gym, E-9. Lopez said students who wish to honor a retiring faculty member need to ask for permission to attend. The Transfer Center will host its own celebration for Elans who will attend a four-year institution in the fall. Transfer students who are invited to the Transfer Student Reception will receive a white ELAC Transfer Honor Cord to wear during graduation.
To participate in the event, students can take at least one CSU, UC or private university acceptance letter to the Transfer Center by Friday. The reception will take place on May 23 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the auditorium foyer.
According to Paulina Palomino, Transfer Center director, 73 students had already picked up their invitations as of last Wendnesday. She also said that students who miss the deadline can still pick up a white cord after May 18, but they will miss out on an important event. “At the reception, students are called forward and the names of all the universities that they have been offered admission to are read aloud. They receive a Transfer Certificate and then the Transfer Honor Cord is placed over their shoulders. It is a very positive and uplifting event,” she said.
Palomino suggests that Elans meet with a counselor if they suspect they might be ready to graduate. She said, “If the requirements will all be met by the end of spring semester, they (students) are given a signed graduation petition that allows them to participate in graduation.”
The last day to petition for graduation is May 31, the day before the commencement ceremony will take place. According to instructions listed on the petition form, students can wait up to six weeks to find out if they are approved for graduation. Students who filed for graduation after March 26 will not have their names included in the commencement program. A graduation list of students whose names will appear in the commencement program was made available to download as a PDF file from the school’s website last week.
Valeriano says that despite petitioning close to the deadline and not yet receiving official approval to graduate, students should still attend the ceremony. “It’s the proper way to end your journey at a community college,” he said.
After struggling for nearly a decade with the idea of returning to pop quizzes and all-night study sessions, Solano agrees with Valeriano that students should never skip their own graduation. “I know it’s just a community college, but you’re getting a diploma. There’s a lot of people who would want it, but can’t have it, so taking it for granted is messed up,” she said.
Valeriano also extends an invitation to Elans who will earn an associate degree at the end of this year’s summer session and might no longer be attending ELAC to participate in the next graduation ceremony. “You can still walk; I don’t turn people away,” he said.
For more information on graduation and graduation requirements, go to http://elac.edu/collegeservices/commencement/index.htm.