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PCC Celebrates 40 Years with June Commencement
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. – The spotlight will shine on 2,104 graduates of Portland Community College on Friday, June 14, when they will take center stage to receive diplomas and celebrate their accomplishments with family, friends, faculty and staff. PCC’s commencement will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Memorial Coliseum, One Center Court, 1401 N. Wheeler Ave. PCC sprung from humble roots, celebrating its first commencement in 1962 with a dozen graduates in the lunchroom of, ironically, the former Failing Elementary School. The college is now the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon, serving nearly 100,000 full- and part-time students this academic yearStudents will earn associate of arts Oregon transfer degrees; associate of science degrees, general studies and applied science degrees; one- and two-year certificates; high school diplomas; and GED certificates. PCC President Dr. Jesus "Jess"Carreon will deliver the 2002 commencement address. The student speaker is 20-year-old Andi Prewitt. Prewitt, a 1999 graduate of Newberg High School, is a winning parliamentary debater for PCC and is also a member of the two-year honor society Phi Theta Kappa with a 3.73 GPA. She plans to transfer to Portland State University with the goal of entering the University of California-Berkeley her senior year. She is a theater and journalism major. Prewitt says she found her "support group"in the PCC forensics program, an active crew of student parliamentary debaters, led by speech faculty members Larry Galizio and Chris Edwards. With Prewitt’s help, PCC took second among two-year colleges at the national competition. The team is made up of a diverse group of students, ages 18 to 30-something, and includes international students, as well as others from various parts of the U.S. "My partner is a ?hick from Wyoming’ – that’s how he describes himself, "laughed Prewitt. Like many community college students, Prewitt works part time. She puts in 20 hours a week at the Sherwood Albertson’s as a counter clerk. English instructor Scott Dionne, who nominated Prewitt, praised her scholarship. "Her writing is of the highest caliber. Although only a sophomore, Andi’s writing reads more like something you would expect to see in graduate school,"he said. "Although Andi has not suffered any remarkable hardships in her life, she is an ideal candidate. She is a different kind of success story than the one who has had to overcome physical, emotional, or social barriers,"Dionne said. "She came to PCC unsure of what she wanted to do with her life ? we have given her the opportunity to find herself. She is the kind of success story that too often gets overlooked here at PCC ? a very hardworking, sincere, mature student, who loves PCC and is giving some of that love back in her participation in her classes and on the debate team,"he said.PCC’s fourth president, Dr. Jesus "Jess"Carreon, began his tenure 10 months ago. Carreon says that being new to PCC, he has "the special privilege of congratulating this year’s graduates from a unique perspective. I have something in common with the students: I graduated from a two-year college, worked my way through and, as a first generation Mexican American, knew education was my ticket to success. I also know, like them, that I am associated with one of the finest community colleges in the nation. "I am honored to stand before them and celebrate their accomplishments,"he added. "For so many of our students, the path to completion has not been an easy one."Carreon’s speech is entitled "Challenging the Future, Changing Lives."This year’s graduating class is 17 percent larger than the class of 2001 and is a testament to the growing popularity of PCC. Enrollment this year has increased by 13.3 percent. "Although this is a time of celebration,"said Carreon, "the popularity comes at a time when budgets are tight, the economy is down, and we are being asked to do more and more with less and less. We want to continue to be able to serve the increasing numbers of students who come to PCC for their education."