Timothy Waters was so exhausted he could barely make it to class at Mt. San Jacinto College, but he knew there was one more assignment he needed to complete before he could earn his associate’s degree.
The Hemet resident, who had been battling a brain tumor, finished his last paper on March 13. The next morning, his only son found Waters’ body on the couch.
Mt. San Jacinto College will award Waters, who was 51, his degree in computer information systems posthumously during graduation ceremonies on May 30. His son, Brad Waters, will accept the degree, said Roger Schultz, vice president of student services and incoming college president.
“It means a lot to us,” Matt Waters, Timothy’s brother, said. “We really feel that he should be recognized because he worked so hard. He was really looking forward to graduation. He was looking forward to getting his cap and gown and doing the walk.”
Schultz said it is the first time to his knowledge that MSJC has awarded a degree posthumously.
“We thought it would be appropriate for the son to accept this degree in honor of his father because it is a great accomplishment and the family should not be denied the recognition of Timothy Waters’ commitment to his education,” Schultz said.
Matt Waters, an instructor at MSJC, said his brother had a seizure shortly before he died, but still managed to attend classes at the San Jacinto campus. Matt, who drove his brother to class, said Timothy Waters was exhausted and had to rest frequently on his walk to and from class. Matt said it was not the cancer that took his brother’s life, but a blood clot resulting from complications related to the disease.
Waters will be among the 1,046 students to receive degrees or certificates this year. The record number of diplomas is up from 852 students in 2007. Some students will receive more than one degree or certificate, bringing the total number of associates degrees awarded in 2008 to 1,473 and certificates to 131.
Commencement is scheduled for 6:30 at the Ramona Bowl, 27400 Ramona Bowl Road in Hemet. More than one-third of the students are expected to attend the ceremony, which is held for students from the San Jacinto and Menifee Valley campuses.
The keynote speaker will be David Long, California’s secretary of education.
Long has more than 40 years experience in education, including serving as superintendent of the Banning Unified School District from 1989 to 1992; superintendent of the Lake Elsinore Unified School District from 1992 to 1999; and superintendent of schools for Riverside County from 1999 to 2007.
Students Julian Alcazar and Eugene Furnace will share reflections of their experiences at MSJC. Student Cynthia Green will present the turning of the tassels. Members of the MSJC Board of Trustees will award the diplomas.