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COC graduates more than 1,000 at 40th commencement

Posted: June 5, 2009 9:21 p.m.
Updated: June 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Son, Cameron, left, and father Rus Shaaban listen to speeches as they wait to receive their diplomas together at Collece of the Canyons graduation ceremonies on Friday.

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More than 1,000 College of the Canyons students marked the end of their community college experience Friday during a commencement ceremony that encouraged members of the class of 2009 to make their dreams a reality.

“We have the ability to mold our future and shape the generations to come,” said Michael Brennan Weiss, the class of 2009’s student speaker.

The 40th commencement ceremony included 1,096 students, representing 43 majors, who walked across the stage to receive their associate degrees to the sound of cheering families and faculty.

The cloudy skies put a brief damper on the processional, held at the outdoor Honor Grove on the Valencia campus, when a round of light rain dampened the graduates and families.

The ceremony highlighted the achievements of the community college’s faculty in serving students.

A special thanks was also given to Chancellor Dr. Dianne Van Hook, who has served the college for the 21 years.

“She has the benefit to see how this will benefit our community,” said Michael Wilding, vice president of student services.

In her speech, Van Hook honored the families of the class of 2009 for their encouragement.

“The power of the words and the support they gave you week after week really helped you graduates succeed,” Van Hook said.

She also recognized the community college’s faculty for standing by their students and inspiring them.

“Teachers never know where their impact ends,” she said.

Throughout Van Hook’s charge, she offered lessons she’s learned since graduating from college.

“Fear can be your best teacher,” she said.

Another piece of advice involved working with others.

“It’s how we treat people that really matters,” she said.

With those words, Van Hook encouraged the graduates to take on the world and create change.

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining who we are,” she said.

The ceremony also gave special recognition to Tom Lawrence, professor of mathematics and physics, who is retiring after serving the college for 40 years.

Lawrence, who has taught more than 10,000 students, is the community college’s last original faculty member.



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