Mt. San Jacinto College students celebrate commencement

Karla Foster gives a speech during the Mt. San Jacinto College commencement on Friday. Story and photos by Mt. San Jacinto College Publi...

Karla Foster gives a speech during the Mt. San Jacinto College commencement on Friday.

Story and photos by Mt. San Jacinto College Public Information Office:

Karla Foster doesn’t believe in waiting for magic to turn her dreams into reality. She believes in rolling up her sleeves and making it happen. That’s how the single mother of four realized two of her dreams: receiving two associate degrees on Friday from Mt. San Jacinto College and earning a full-ride scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley.

“All those sleepless nights my children would … wake up at the sight of me studying for an exam or writing an essay, I was delivering a message: dreams are not touched by a magic wand, but with hard work and perseverance,” Foster, 31, of Temecula said.

Foster, a first-generation graduate, served as a speaker at MSJC’s 2018 Commencement, held at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula for the first time in the college’s history. She was one of 1,607 graduates who made up the Class of 2018. Those graduates earned a total of 2,571 associate degrees and 148 career certificates, as some students earn more than one degree, certificate or a combination.

This year’s graduation theme was “MSJC Eagle Proud, Soaring to New Heights.” Foster embodied the theme. She said she was tired of working an entry-level job, living paycheck to paycheck. With English as her second language, she embarked on her educational journey at MSJC. She admitted she was scared. She knew there would be sacrifices. But she knew she had to do it.

“I knew money would be tighter than ever before,” Foster said. “I knew my children would not get to go to Disneyland or Universal Studios, let alone the movie theater, like most children do; but what I do know is that they will get a better chance in life. I am not only fighting for my future, I am fighting for theirs. I am opening doors for them that weren't open for me.”

Her nod to hard work and perseverance wasn’t just a good soundbite. In addition to her children and her studies, she was a Phi Theta Kappa International Society member and 2014 scholarship officer, was on the President's Honor Roll, was employed as an MSJC student worker, and received multiple scholarships, including the full ride to Berkeley.

Makeez Manely, the Mt. San Jacinto College student trustee, plans on becoming an attorney.

Other students also represented the commencement theme. During the 2017-2018 academic year, Makeez Manely served as a student trustee along with the five-member elected officials who make up the MSJC Board of Trustees. Manely said receiving her diploma was a bittersweet moment.

“On one hand, I have to say goodbye to this group of people who have become my family and on other hand, I have a bright future to look forward to.” Manely said. “These past two years will forever be unique because of all the amazing opportunities and kind hearts at MSJC.”

Manely, of Lake Elsinore, received her associate’s degree in social behavioral sciences. She was accepted into several universities and is deciding between attending the University of California, Los Angeles or UC Berkeley for a bachelor’s degree in political science. She will eventually attend law school to become a lawyer.

Delacy Brown (left) attended classes on the San Jacinto Campus and was recognized as the Most Valuable Player on the Lady Eagles basketball team. The team won the program’s first state championship this year. Brown, 20, received a full ride scholarship to California Baptist University, where she plans to earn a degree in psychology.

Aaron Gregory, of Banning, said the commencement theme resonates with his goals and plans. Gregory is transferring to the University of California, Riverside to obtain his bachelor’s in science in chemistry. He plans to conduct research and become a chemistry professor and said he will remember MSJC as the place it all started.

Shiji Yuan, of Murrieta, said one of the greatest features of being an MSJC student is “having wonderful supportive professors walk you through your education.” He plans to transfer so he can obtain a degree in psychology, become a clinical therapist and teach at a community college.

Forty-four graduates received their nursing degrees. As part of their studies, more than half will continue to serve as interns with local hospitals that partner with MSJC in the upcoming Summer 2018 Occupational Internship program.

This internship supports the mission of transition to practice. Last year, MSJC graduated 44 students, with all 44 passing the National Council for Licensure Exam (NCLEX) and MSJC anticipates the same for this current group of graduates. Last year, all graduates who participated in the Occupational Internship program secured employment through their internship opportunity.

Getting a job in the field of study is one of the reasons MSJC’s Allied Health & Nursing Program received a Silver Star award from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. The Career Education programs at MSJC that were also recognized by the state for their success in helping students land jobs and increasing earnings were:

Automotive Technology: 56 percent increase in earnings
Business Administration: 57 percent increase in earnings
Drafting Technology: 100 percent of students are employed in a job similar to their field of study
Water and Wastewater Technology: 80 percent of students attained the regional living wage
Computer Information Systems: 55 percent increase in earnings
Administration of Justice: 69 percent increase in earnings
Fire Technology: 107 percent increase in earnings

MSJC’s summer 2018 registration is open. A new modular village on the Menifee Valley Campus will house more classes in science, math and other high-demand classes. The eight-week summer session starts on June 4 and six-week session starts on June 18. For more information on getting started this summer, call 951-639-5313.

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