This is a great time to be the leader of an institution of higher learning, because it’s the season to recognize student achievement. PCC celebrated Graduation 2014 in spectacular fashion last month, and we have held ceremonies honoring graduates of JobPath, nursing and fire science, to name a few programs. Last week I had the privilege of attending another great event that highlights the important work PCC does in the community, the 2014 High School Equivalency graduation ceremony at the Tucson Convention Center.
The more than 1,370 graduates who earned their equivalency certificates in 2013-14 balanced their academic aspirations with family and jobs, and found a way to make it all work. That’s in no small part to their friends and loved ones – those who stand with them, behind them and beside them as they strive to do more.
The two student speakers, Javier Rodríguez and Ana Robles de Monge, personified the hard work and determination of the graduates. Javier (pictured above) is a 44-year-old husband and father of four daughters. A truck driver, he came to PCCAE in January doubting he would succeed. But succeed he did, and he credits his loved ones along with the staff at our El Pueblo Liberty Learning Center. “Each of us had our support system, whether it was our families, teachers or staff. With their help, we accomplished something amazing.”
Ana’s journey began 2008 when she joined our Family Literacy program, where she learned English, began to study for a GED – which she admits was a challenge — and learned how to become a better parent. “Family Literacy is about more than math and grammar,” Ana says. She left the program but, after some extremely trying family circumstances, came back to Adult Education, and was selected to be a member of AmeriCorps, a federal program which allows Americans to participate in providing services that fulfill crucial needs in the areas of education, health, public safety and the environment. In October, Ana earned a GED.
I urged the graduates to continue their education journey and am confident that many will use their accomplishments as a steppingstone to even greater academic achievement, no matter where they are in life. Ana put it best: “My final advice to you is it is never too late to continue with your education. Pima has always had an open door for us; you just need to be ready to take the challenge.”