Resilience honored through ceremony


Cindy Pantoja / The Advocate

EOPS student Justin Harvey hugs counselor Dionne Perez during the 16th Annual Student Recognition Reception in the Amphitheater on May 8.

By De'Jon Sylvain, Advocate Staff

Family and friends gathered in the Amphitheater behind the Student and Administration Building May 8 to honor students receiving an associate degree or certificate of completion/achievement.

In the ceremony, EOPS/CARE and CalWORKs students received accommodations and were honored by Contra Costa College staff at the 16th Annual Student Recognition Reception.

EOPS/CARE and CalWORKs Manager George Mills said the ceremony is held to congratulate its students who received scholarships, associate degrees, certificates of completion/achievement and to those who plan to pursue educational or occupational goals beyond CCC.

“You are more than just students,” Mills said. “You are all parents, hard-working employees and family members.”

There were more than 140 EOPS students who received associate degrees and certificates of completion/achievement this academic year.

Before the event began, CCC staff provided paper umbrellas for those in attendance to counteract the blistering spring sun.

Mills welcomed honorees, staff, family and friends in an opening ceremony addressing how CCC recognizes the “grit” and “resilience” of its students, and also congratulated them all on a spectacular academic year.

Keynote speaker Alex Walker-Griffin, undergraduate at Saint Mary’s College of California and former Associated Student Union president, returned to CCC to offer words of inspiration.

“I felt like I didn’t have a place in the educational world,” Griffin said, “At Contra Costa College I was able to find my path in the world.”

Griffin acknowledged his academic struggles in a heartwarming speech.

“You are not just the future of this community,” Griffin said. “You have a role. You’re changing the stigma — you’re honoring those (community members) of the past.”

Griffin closed his address saying, “It’s not about how you started. It’s about how you finish and continue.”

Guest speaker Lacretia Robinson, former CCC liberal arts and African American studies student, now a student at Cal State-East Bay, also offered encouraging words.

She said, “I was a high school dropout.”

Robinson reflected on her personal struggles in her academic journey.

“It doesn’t matter your situation,” she said. “Without EOPS and the culture, the people and the diversity (at CCC), I would not be where I am today.”

Following the speakers, the EOPS/CARE and CalWORKs counselors awarded students with certificates and EOPS embroidered stoles.

Students who received scholarships were given an additional certificate from EOPS/CARE.

“Students garnered over $122,000 in scholarship money,” Mills said.

Walker-Griffin said CCC has pride and people who know the world.

“We all have a voice and need to be heard. We all have a story,” he said.