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Thousands to attend 48th, and very green, PCC graduation

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Portland Community College is celebrating its 48th graduation ceremony, awarding nearly 3,000 diplomas and certificates to PCC graduates. Commencement exercises, which will feature more than 600 grads walking, will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 11, at the Memorial Coliseum, One Center Court, 1401 N. Wheeler Ave.

A graduate from the 2009 ceremony waves to her family in the Memorial Coliseum crowd.

Family, friends, faculty and staff will be on hand to congratulate the graduates and celebrate their accomplishments as they take center stage with PCC District President Preston Pulliams, the board of directors and executive staff. This year’s ceremony will include emcee Algie Gatewood, Board Chair Harold Williams, student speaker and Afghanistan native and Sherwood resident Miral Rezayee Bessed and faculty speaker Larry Altree of the Aviation Science Program.

This year, the ceremony is going green as graduates will wear new, sustainable caps and gowns. The students will wear “The Elements Collection” from Jostens and are made of natural fiber from renewable, managed forests. The only part of the cap and gown that is not biodegradable is the zipper, which is made from recycled pop bottles, and the button on the cap, which is made of metal – both of which can be recycled.

Family, friends and graduates are encouraged to take the free PCC shuttle to the coliseum for the event. Folks can park for free at the Cascade Campus and catch the shuttle at Parking Lot 1, which will take people to and from Memorial Coliseum every 15 minutes starting at 2 p.m. The last shuttle leaves the coliseum 45 minutes after the end of the ceremony.

For additional information on the PCC Graduation, visit

Student Speaker Miral Rezayee Bessed

During May, Miral Rezayee Bessed was named a Ford Foundation Scholar and met billionaire investor Warren Buffett. But maybe her biggest honor is that she was named graduation speaker for Portland Community College’s commencement where she will get to speak to thousands of people about her amazing story.

Student speaker and Afghanistan native Miral Rezayee Bessed.

“I got the message at work and told the lady that I spoke with, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Bessed said. “She said, ‘No, I’m serious.’ And from then on I couldn’t stop smiling. I announced it to everyone at work right there. It’s not every day you get that kind of audience that can not only feel where you came from and understand you, but I get to tell them of my experiences and what I learned. Hopefully, I can get them to learn something from it. I am incredibly excited.”

Bessed, 29, is completing her Oregon Transfer Degree and plans to enroll at the University of Oregon to major in broadcast journalism. She’s excited that once she completes her four-year degree, she’ll move on to get a master’s. She’ll have plenty of help as, last week, she was named one of 11 national Ford Foundation Scholars from PCC and she’ll receive $25,000 in grant money.

Her story covers surviving a war in Afghanistan, discrimination and harassment in Pakistan, acclimating to a new country in the United States and finding her identity at one of the country’s largest community colleges.

To read about her story, visit her Web site feature.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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