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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Congressman gives keynote address at Hanford’s graduation

December 9, 2014

SJVC Hanford GraduationDavid Valadao, who just three days earlier was re-elected as California’s 21st Congressional District representative, was the keynote speaker for Hanford’s graduation ceremony held on Friday, Nov. 7th.

Ninety graduates and nearly 300 friends and family members gathered with SJVC staff and faculty at the Koinonia Christian Fellowship Church in Hanford to witness this important educational rite of passage.

“Congressman Valadao talked about how he was able to relate to many of our students, as his parents were immigrants,” says April Lafaire, Academic Dean and Dean of Student Services. “His family started a small farm here in Hanford, and was able to build it into a very successful business. He shared that for our students, SJVC is their start to a successful career,” says April.

Clarissa Hensley, who graduated from the Medical Office program, was the “Inspirational Student” speaker. Instead of a valedictorian, the Hanford campus invites a student who has faced and overcome obstacles that stood between them and educational achievement, to address fellow graduates and graduation attendees.

“The Inspirational Student is someone who has been an inspiration to their peers, their teachers and their families,” says Jessie Manzer, SJVC Online Media Specialist.

Clarissa, who struggles with personal issues that threatened her ability to complete her program, persevered, and completed her program with a 3.95 GPA and excellent attendance. Clarissa spoke to the crowd about life struggles and the importance of education.

“I always love graduation, and seeing the students accomplish their goals,” says April. “They are all so proud, and I’m so proud of them.”