News - 05/6/2014

MiraCosta College to Celebrate Latino Graduates

To Alfredo Ahumada, excelling at MiraCosta College is a no-brainer.

“My mom came to this country so I could have a better opportunity to get a good education,” Ahumada said. “I’m not going to let that go to waste. I’m not going to be responsible for her making that kind of sacrifice in vain.”

Ahumada graduates in May with an associate in arts degree in sociology and is on track to transfer to Cal State San Marcos in the fall. He and his mom will be among those celebrating May 16 when MiraCosta College holds its 18th Annual Latino/a Graduation Celebration to honor those who have overcome long odds to succeed at securing a higher education.

The event gets underway at 6 p.m. in the Concert Hall at the Oceanside Campus. Festivities include light refreshments and testimonials.

“This inspirational evening reinforces our resolve as a college to continue our commitment to students and to acknowledge their accomplishments,” said MiraCosta College counselor Hilda Gomez-Zinn, who is helping to organize the festivities. “Unlike the May 20 commencement ceremony, this event allows our students to say a few words of appreciation to those in the audience who have supported them through this process.”

The bilingual celebration honors not only those who are earning an associate degree, but the achievements of the college’s Community Learning Center’s Adult High School Diploma Program graduates, as well as those securing various certificates.

Nearly one-third of the students enrolled in MiraCosta Community College District programs are Hispanic, as are about one-fourth of students enrolled in credit courses. The college recently has been designated a Hispanic Serving Institution, a label that can mean millions of dollars in federal grants to improve educational programs. Colleges designated as Hispanic Serving Institutions must have an enrollment that is at least 25 percent Hispanic, must offer at least a two-year program that leads to a degree, must be accredited, and must have a high enrollment of needy students, according to the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Ahumada, 20, says he plans to earn a master’s degree in sociology before he’s through. “I’m not exactly sure what I want to do as far as a career, but I do want to work with youth in some way so that I can help to make a difference in their lives.”

He’s already making a difference. The first person in his family to attend college, Ahumada works part-time with MiraCosta’s First Year Experience program.

Richard Huizar will be among those joining Ahumada. The 19-year-old graduates this spring as a Medal of Honor scholar with a 3.9 GPA. The applied mathematics major, who holds down three campus jobs, is on the President’s List, scored a perfect 800 on the SAT subject tests in math and physics, and he will hear soon whether he is accepted into MIT en route to earning a Ph.D.

“MiraCosta College was my educational destiny,” Huizar said. “It is an amazing place with a positive environment and excellent faculty and staff. It gave me an opportunity to transfer to a great four-year program and showed that I can do anything I wanted.”

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