Record Number of Students Will Walk in Southwestern College Commencement Ceremony

Diploma covers are ready for graduates.
Photo: Diploma covers are ready for graduates.

CHULA VISTA – A record 816 students are set to participate in Southwestern College’s largest commencement ceremony ever on Friday, May 27, at 4 p.m., in the newly renovated DeVore Stadium at the Chula Vista Campus.

UC Berkeley-bound Melissa Rodriguez, student trustee, Associated Student Organization president and one of Southwestern College’s 2016 Student of Distinction Award recipients, will be the student speaker.

Southwestern College is the only public institution of higher education in southern San Diego County, and more than 500,000 students have attended the College since it opened its doors—and has been opening doors for others—55 years ago.

“Our graduates will be attending the Ivy League universities of the East and West coasts, and we can be proud that Southwestern College has prepared them well,” said Southwestern College Governing Board President Nora E. Vargas, who also is a proud alumnus of the college. “We look forward to the impact they will have on our community and our nation.”

In all, Southwestern College is awarding 4,011 degrees and certificates this year.

Southwestern College graduates have gone on to study at some of the top universities in the nation, and its Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) program will be honored in Sacramento June 2 by Secretary of State Alex Padilla and the Campaign for College Opportunity for its huge increase in students transferring to a California State University campus. The Campaign for College Opportunity has named Southwestern College one of nine High Performing colleges in California after a comprehensive, independent examination showed a 138 percent increase in the number of ADT students transferring to a CSU, one of the greatest increases in the state, and the largest in San Diego County. In 2013-14, Southwestern conferred 171 Associate Degrees for Transfer, but in 2014-15 that number grew to 407, according to Campaign for College Opportunity data.

“Southwestern College has done a tremendous job incorporating an array of innovative programs that are yielding huge advances in student equity and student success, and we couldn’t be more proud of our graduates,” said Southwestern College Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish.

The College will also confer honorary degrees on Adela C. Garcia and philanthropist Hank Murphy.

Garcia has been breaking barriers her entire life, holding numerous management positions at IBM at a time when women in management were far from common. She also has served on the boards at the United Way, the Chicano Federation, the UC San Diego Diversity Council for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and the Southwestern College Foundation. Her longest running commitment has been to MANA de San Diego, a nonprofit where Garcia has raised needed funds and awareness for the organization’s commitment to empower young Latinas.

Murphy has lived a life of service—to his family, to the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, to the greater San Diego community and to his country. His philanthropy, in partnership with his wife, Shirley, includes establishing the Southern Indian Health Council clinic, founding the Kumeyaay Nation Education Alliance and raising funds for Grossmont Hospital and Southwestern College. Murphy joined the Southwestern College Foundation’s Board of Directors in 2010.

The College is located at 900 Otay Lakes Road, Chula Vista. For more information on commencement, click here.

Students graduating in the 2015 Southwestern College Commencement Ceremony.
Photo: Students graduating in the 2015 Southwestern College Commencement Ceremony.