MSJC's Class of 2014 will Turn Tassels on May 30

May 23, 2014

The commencement will be held at the Ramona Bowl Amphitheater

Corrine Rutledge worked a variety of jobs for a few years after attending high school in Banning before she decided to return to Mt. San Jacinto College to earn her degree. Irvin Calderon, of Perris, was still in high school when he was encouraged to attend MSJC. Menifee resident Leslie Fairbairn signed up for MSJC’s nursing program when she decided it was time for a career change. All three students will move on to earn four-year degrees after they graduate from MSJC next week. 

MSJC will hold commencement for 1,093 students at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 30, 2014 at the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre in Hemet.

During graduation, the college will award 1,593 associate degrees and 143 certificates for an impressive total of 1,736 combined degrees/certificates awarded. Many students earn more than one degree or certificate  or a combination. MSJC is encouraging its graduates to share their photos by using hashtag #MSJCGrad when posting updates and photos to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. 

MSJC graduating students Sarah Stebbings of Wildomar and Megan Kellenberger of Hemet will give their reflections during the ceremony. Hannah Dixon of Temecula will offer the Pledge of Allegiance and Ivelisse Porroa Garcia of Banning will serve her fellow students as the official Tassel Turner.
For the second year in a row MSJC boasts three Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Transfer Scholarship winners: Irvin Calderon, Aaron Hansen, and Christopher Blake Leeper.  

"Irvin, Aaron and Christopher are incredibly active members of our Honors Enrichment Program and have made a tremendous impact on the college as a whole,” said Eric Ozolins, an anthropology instructor who serves as Honors Enrichment Program Co-Director on the Menifee Valley Campus.  “They have worked very hard for this award and completely deserve it. I couldn't be more proud of them.”   

MSJC is only the second college in the Jack Kent Cooke foundation’s 14-year history to have three students receive the award in two separate years, Ozolins said. 

Those graduating from MSJC represent a wide variety of ages, interests and educational journeys. Some seek degrees or certification for a career change, others come straight from high school, and still others find their way back to school after working for several years. Such preparation will serve them well. According to the Wall Street Journal, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Chuck Pierret has been interviewing more than 10,000 people since 1979 to track their job stability. As of 2010 the group held an average of 10.8 jobs between the ages of 18 and 42.

LFairbairn.jpgFairbairn is an excellent example of this trend.  Fairbairn, who will turn 42 in July, has lived in the Menifee area since high school and graduated from Temecula Valley High School.  After earning two previous associate degrees, she chose MSJC for her career change because of the strength of the nursing program. The mother of three young boys had worked and traveled for years before the birth of her sons as a Logistics Analyst for the American Suzuki Motor Corporation headquartered in Orange County. 

She dates her desire to train as a nurse to a particularly difficult medical situation about five years ago. She became completely dependent on nurses, family and friends during the ordeal. 

While the nurses who cared for her serve as inspiration, her family is her motivation for continuing her education.

“I want to be an example for my kids and help my husband who has been the sole provider for the past several years,” Fairbairn said.

She plans to start an online nursing program in July.

ICalderon.JPGCalderon, 21, earned the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship and is the first in his family to go to college. He arrived at MSJC directly from his Perris high school. His parents always emphasized to him, his brother and sister that their work was to go to school. He will continue his education in the fall at UCLA studying chemistry and plans to go on to medical school. Medical school attracts him because of the challenge but also the opportunity to help others.

He credits Ozolins whom he met while still in high school: “He helped me and listened.” 

Calderon emphasizes the hard work and commitment needed to achieve what he has achieved but he also credited the approachability of MSJC instructors.

When his parents heard about the scholarship that brings up to $30,000 a year for the next three years, Calderon’s father kept his composure, but he said his mother “hugged me and nearly lifted me off the floor.”

CRutledge.jpgRutledge, 28, who attended high school in the Banning area, took a much less direct route to MSJC. Challenged by a chaotic home life, her mother’s health issues and her own lack of direction, Rutledge spent time figuring out where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do. The quest took her to Missouri and to various jobs in California before she found her way back home after her mother married. That marriage made a huge difference in her focus, she relates. Her mother’s husband told her she was welcome to live there but had to work or go to school.

In short order she finished high school credits and her determination brought her to MSJC. She credits Janice Levasseur, supplemental instruction coordinator, with mentoring her and helping her to take advantage of the resources available to her at MSJC from career/personality testing to the Math Club and student government where she served as vice president. Her MSJC liberal arts degree will launch her to California State University, Fullerton for a degree in business and marketing.

Her advice to other students: “Take advantage of the resources available. It boosts your confidence for the next opportunity.”

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