Attending college as a single parent with two young sons was a challenge, but Jennifer Moreno said it was worth the effort.
Moreno, 35, of Banning is one of the 1,322 people who graduated from Mt. San Jacinto College on May 26. She brought her 9- and 14-year-old sons to the ceremony celebrate her earning an associate’s degree in office administration.
“I feel that I’ve become a role model because I’m the first in my family to … actually get a degree,” Moreno said.”My confidence level has risen. I can get up in front of people and talk. For the last year, I’ve been the … president (of a campus club) and in the past, that’s something I would have never taken on.”
The MSJC graduation was held at the Ramona Bowl in Hemet. California Senator Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, served as the commencement speaker. MSJC awarded about 1,649 associate’s degrees and 249 certificates for the 2010-2011 year. Last year, MSJC awarded 1,443 associate’s degrees and 188 certificates to 1,240 graduates.
In addition to facing parenting alone, Moreno said she had no car, little money and suffered from health problems, but she found plenty of support at MSJC in counseling, financial aid and other services to help her achieve her educational goal.
Moreno said she was also thrilled when the MSJC San Gorgonio Pass Campus opened in January. Instead of traveling to San Jacinto for classes, or attending night classes at Banning and Beaumont high schools, she was able to take her classes at the new campus.
“It was wonderful and convenient because it’s right down the street,” she said.
Beaumont resident Shawn Buzzini said he still attended classes at the San Jacinto Campus, but thought the new Pass campus was great for future students. Buzzini, 21, earned his second certificate and two associate’s degrees in advance audio technology from MSJC.
Buzzini praised his instructors and others at MSJC.
“They helped me to go for something that I was good at and really enjoy,” he said.
What does the future hold for these graduates? Both are eager to get to work and plan to highlight their degrees on resumes so they can pepper employers with job applications.
And Moreno will have to start planning for her sons’ college careers.
“My sons are both inspired to go to college and follow mom’s footsteps,” Moreno said. “They both want to go to Mt. San Jacinto College in the future.”