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44th commencement packs Memorial Coliseum
Photos and Story by James Hill
On Friday, June 9, Portland Community College celebrated its 44th graduation ceremony, awarding 2,415 diplomas and certificates to graduates. Family, friends, faculty and staff were on hand to congratulate the graduates and celebrate their accomplishments as they took center stage with PCC District President Preston Pulliams, the board of directors and executive staff.
This year’s ceremony included emcee Nan Poppe (Extended Learning and Southeast Center president), Board Chair Harold Williams and student Michelle Martin singing the national anthem.
This year’s student speaker was Leah Gibson of northeast Portland. Gibson, an adopted baby of a mixed racial background (half Lakota Sioux and half Persian), faced many challenges during her childhood that saw her become a drug and alcohol addicted youth who had dropped out of three different high schools by the age of 16. During the four years at PCC, Gibson completed her high school diploma via Gateway to College, worked as student body president at the Cascade Campus, and earned her Oregon Arts Transfer Degree with flying colors.
“Graduation marks a milestone and major accomplishment for our students,” said Pulliams. “These graduates have worked hard. They did not, however, do it alone. I want to thank the able staff and faculty of PCC, the supportive family and friends of the students and the many donors to the PCC Foundation whose financial support enabled many of our students to continue their studies to graduation. Congratulations graduates, please stay active in the PCC community.”
PCC, the largest institution of higher education in Oregon, offered its first commencement ceremony in 1962 to a dozen students in the lunchroom of Portland’s former Failing Elementary School. Forty-four years later, PCC serves more than 91,000 full- and part-time students.
Students earned degrees in associate of arts Oregon transfer, associate of science, associate of general studies and associate of applied science; one- and two-year certificates; high school diplomas; and GED certificates.