Santa Ana College (SAC) will hold its 96th annual commencement exercise on Thursday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m. at Eddie West Field – Santa Ana Stadium, 602 N Flower St, Santa Ana, CA. There are 1,980 students who are eligible to graduate.
The Class of 2012 valedictorian is Ivan de Jesus Garcia, a 28-year-old resident of Moreno Valley. He graduates with an associate of arts degree in speech language pathology assisting with a grade point average of 4.0. Garcia attended Valley View High School in Moreno Valley where he participated in the school’s Allied Health Academy. At age 17, he obtained a certified nurse assistant license and began working at a skilled nursing facility. After working in this field for six months, he transitioned to the rehabilitation department. This exposure encouraged him to enter the medical field.
After high school graduation, he attended Riverside Community College and transferred to the University of California, Riverside, where he majored in biological sciences with a minor in Italian. While studying abroad, he realized that he no longer wanted to become a physician, but still liked the healthcare field and the study of language. After taking two years off from his studies, he discovered the field of speech pathology, which melded his love for language and for healthcare.
In 2010, he entered the SAC Speech Language Pathology Assistant Program commuting 100 miles every day to and from the college to his home in Moreno Valley. At the same time, he continued his full-time job and successfully completed internships at the Jurupa Unified School District and the St. Jude Centers for Rehabilitation and Wellness. His hopes to obtain a master’s degree in communicative disorders and provide services to the underrepresented language communities for whom resources and services are limited.
“Santa Ana College has provided me with the opportunity to pursue something I have a passion for,” said Garcia.
More than 5,000 people, including 600 graduates, friends and families, are expected to attend the commencement ceremony this Thursday. Among the graduates will be 31 Middle College High School graduates who will receive both their high school diplomas and associate degrees this spring paving their way to transfer to universities.
“Commencement is a very special occasion for our students, their families, our faculty and staff,” said Erlinda J. Martinez, Ed.D., Santa Ana College president. “Our students have had to overcome numerous obstacles—balancing family responsibilities and economic challenges while completing degree and certificate requirements. Our commencement exercise honors their dedication and hard work.”