Commencement graduates listening to Dr. Stern remarks

Graduates of the Class of 2023 were recognized at Saddleback College’s 54th commencement ceremony held May 25.

Hundreds of associate degree and certificate of achievement recipients participated in the event at Saddleback College Stadium, with family and friends in attendance. The Class of 2023 had more than 6,000 graduates, including 1,627 who graduated with honors.

More than 3,500 Saddleback students will be transferring to four-year colleges and universities in the fall semester.  This year, Saddleback students were accepted to four-year universities across the U.S. and internationally, including the Berklee College of Music, Cornell University, England’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, and multiple UC and CSU campuses including UCLA, UC Berkeley, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and CSU Maritime Academy.

In his opening remarks, Saddleback College President Dr. Elliot Stern commended the graduates for their persistence during the challenges of COVD-19.

“Many of you spent most of your time at Saddleback in the depths of the global pandemic … you missed much of the university experience that we pride ourselves on providing you,” President Stern said. “You never complained. You persevered, adapted, focused and got through your classes, day by day.

“You swam through a pandemic to get here. So, this is no ordinary graduation ceremony today.”

Saddleback Associated Student Government President Gloria Soo Hyun Lee introduced student speakers Fátima Muñiz, Maddison Montes, and Sawyer Trumbly, who alternated remarks while sharing the stage together, with accompanying music from the Saddleback Commercial Music Ensemble directed by Dr. Ariel Alexander.

The ceremony included Academic Senate President Heidi Ochoa’s presentation of Professor of the Year awards to Dr. Ryan McKeachie, Merry Mariano, and Jane Kim. Dr. Margot Lovett, Academic Senate President-Elect, spoke to recommend that retiring professors Christopher Claflin, Maria Kiernan, Kent McFann, and Alannah Rosenberg receive Professor Emeritus status, and Vice President of Instruction Tram Vo-Kumamoto formally accepted the recommendation.

South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees President Timothy Jemal officially conferred the degrees and certificates, and Chancellor Dr. Julianna M. Barnes concluded the ceremony with her congratulatory remarks and leading the Class of 2023 in the traditional mortar board “turning of the tassel” from right to left symbolize graduation.

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