Butte College Career Program ceremonies also taking place May - June
Butte College will mark its 45th Annual Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 30 at 7 p.m. at the John Cowan Sports Complex, 3536 Butte Campus Drive.
Butte College President Dr. Kimberly Perry, along with the Butte College Board of Trustees will preside. Thousands of faculty, staff, family and friends will celebrate this significant milestone in the lives of graduates.
A total of 1,555 degrees will be conferred, including 929 Associate in Arts degrees and 626 Associate in Science degrees. This year's graduates come from 140 cities within California, 15 other states, and 6 foreign countries.
"Our graduates range in ages from 17 to 79 years young and commencement marks an important milestone for anyone--at any age," said Dr. Kimberly Perry, Butte College President. "The road to college may not have been easy for some, so I applaud those who are the first in their family to attend college, those who had to overcome obstacles such as raising a family, those who needed to work part or full time to afford college, or those with life's other challenges. Today, perseverance pays off."
Among the top degrees and certificates awarded include Social and Behavioral Science, University Studies, Business Administration, Registered Nursing, Fire Technology, Language Arts/English, Administration of Justice, Accounting, Respiratory Care, and Nutrition and Food Sciences.
Some graduates will also be transferring to the following institutions including CSU Chico, CSU Fullerton, CSU Monterey, Fresno State, San Diego State, San Francisco State, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, and University of Alaska, among others.
Those students graduating with a 4.0 grade point average include Jamie Decker, Stefano Di Sano, Rina Matsuda, Heidi McMillin, Alejandra Mercado, Deborah Sandoval, Troy Stockton, Michael Trueblood, Dianne Wallace, Kolleen Wells, Jefferson Wright, and Kao Xiong.
Butte College's 2014 student commencement speaker is Tara Ames, 27, Truckee, who is receiving an Associate in Arts for Transfer Degree in Communication Studies. Ames will transfer to CSU Chico and plans to be a social worker to help people experiencing homelessness and addiction.
Ames says the biggest obstacle she faced at Butte College was "herself."
"I had to learn how to be a good student and how to utilize the resources the college had. I don't like asking for help, but I learned that you have to be willing to get help if you want to succeed. Sure, I could have succeeded without changing my ways, but I'm able to walk away knowing that I worked my hardest, and learned as much as possible. I also had problems that were external from school, so I learned to focus on where I was, and it helped me realize that although some things in life are crazy, there isn't a whole lot you can do about them; moving forward in your own life is more important," said Ames.
Ames credits the College's professors for helping her utilize available resources.
"They helped direct me when I was too overwhelmed to know where I was going. More importantly, they never gave up on me, and never let me think that giving up was an option," Ames recounts.
Ames offers her advice to other students to succeed at Butte College and life.
"Use your resources, join a study group, find a tutor, go to a workshop, and have your papers reviewed before you turn them in, and practice a lot. If you really want to succeed you have to surround yourself with your work; your education will only take you a few years, but it will be with you for your whole life--give it all you've got," Ames says. "Talk to your professors if you're finding things difficult; they really do want you to succeed. And last, don't ever say you have a stupid question; if you don't know the answer it's always ok to ask. Self-doubt is like a sack of bricks that you have to cut loose so you can soar."
Commencement Vocalist Alyssa Ann Reeson, 26, Biggs, will sing the National Anthem. Reeson will receive her Associate's Degree in Social and Behavioral Science and plans to attend CSU Chico to earn a degree in speech pathology.
Reeson said her biggest challenge was "figuring out exactly what I wanted to do" and credits the child care program for helping her succeed, as it offered her affordable child care while attending Butte College. "My advice to other students would be you just have to keep trying. Even if it seems like you'll never reach your goal, eventually you will. The time is going to pass by whether you're in school or not, so you might as well do something beneficial towards your future."
Butte College's oldest graduate is Lyneen Callaway, 79, Chico, who is earning an Associate of Arts degree. Callaway is a Fall 2013 graduate whose family moved to Chico in 1950.
"I raised my children and it was on my bucket list to earn that AA degree. My degree provides incentive for my children and I tell them, 'If granny can do it, then my kids and grandkids can too,'" said Callaway.
Callaway suffered a disabling brain injury while working with disabled students.
"Butte College has been very good for me and helped me get back on my feet. College has helped me become productive and I've had wonderful instructors and resources. For those that want to better their lives, college is very fulfilling. It was my personal goal to earn my degree and I'm very happy to complete it with help from the Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS)," she adds.
Callaway wasn't planning to participate in the commencement ceremony but she eventually changed her mind.
"My kids and grandkids talked me into it, and said I was cheating them from having a celebration. Now, I'm looking forward to it," Callaway laughs.
Seventeen year old Rong Zheng, Chico, is the College's youngest graduate and is receiving a degree in Social and Behavioral Science. Zheng started taking classes at Butte College in August 2012.
Butte College serves Butte and Glenn Counties, provides classes to roughly 12,500 students each semester, and is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).