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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Madera campus celebrates first graduation ceremony

May 28, 2015

SJVC Madera first graduation ceremonyJust 8 months after they began their programs at the new Madera campus, the first class of graduating students took the stage.

This milestone took place on May 8th at the Yosemite Christian Center where 43 graduates from the Business Administration, Clinical Medical Assisting and Medical Office Administration certificate programs stood before family, friends, SJVC staff and faculty to receive great applause for their accomplishments.

“I think everybody felt that energy, because it was our inaugural event,” says Ben Almaguer, Campus Director. “It was a time of firsts,” he says, referring to the first graduating class, the first graduation exercise and the first time to present a newly minted commemorative medallion to the recipient of the ceremony’s Founders Award recipient.

Maritza Gill, Medical Office Administration program graduate, received that award, along with the dollar-sized medallion embossed with founders, Robert and Shirley Perry’s images. “We will incorporate this medallion in every Founders Award recognition in the future,” says Mr. Almaguer. “Every successful business has a story. The medallion represents our story, one of passion, perseverance and commitment.”

Over 450 people watched and felt the high emotions of those on center stage – many who had struggled greatly to make it to that point of education success.

“I met family members who were just overwhelmed with a sense of pride,” says Mr. Almaguer. “They arrived with a satisfaction in knowing that they helped that grad make it to the finish line.”

Business Administration program graduate, Yvonne Landeros, was the Inspirational Student Speaker. “When the school asked me to write a speech, I was at a loss for words,” she says. “I was reluctant, at first, embarrassed about my troubles. But then I thought, after all the troubles I’d been through, maybe I could be an inspiration for someone else.”

Yvonne had a lot of odds to overcome to stand where she was standing. She shared her story of loss, frustration, fear and strength with those gathered there that night:

“I was homeless. My family and I had no place to live; we were going from place-to-place, home-to-home. As long as I had a roof over my daughter’s head, I would sleep in my car. I felt like a complete and total failure, as a mother, a wife, and as a human being. But I believe that if you carry yourself with the right positive mind-set, you can overcome any obstacle that interferes with your life goals.”

Yvonne still managed to maintain status on the Dean’s List, as well as a 4.0 GPA.

The keynote speaker that evening was David Rogers, Madera County Board of Supervisors member and a strong supporter of the Madera campus from its inception. “He made a great speech to our graduates, and was well received by the audience,” says Mr. Almaguer. “Something that resounded in his speech was his message of persistence, not giving up.” It is a promise each graduate on stage surely made.

The Madera campus has gotten a lot of support from the community. “We are partnering with local organizations to better serve our students and the community,” says Mr. Almaguer.

The Madera campus has attracted a lot of interest from those wanting a career that will bring them the kind of life they wish for themselves and their families.

The college recently added afternoon sessions to morning and evening schedules to better meet the needs of students. Even after its recent graduation, the Madera campus still has over 100 students…and counting.