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Imperial Valley College commencement

May 25, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

The 39th annual graduation ceremony at Imperial Valley College Saturday morning was special for college President Gilbert M. Domínguez — it was his last.

For Cynthia Tapia, 24, and her brother, Jorge Tapia, 25, the graduation was special because they graduated together with honors.

Domínguez, who has been president at IVC for six years, gave his last commencement speech at IVC on Saturday.

"It's always a rewarding experience to see the fruits of all our work as educators and see these students complete their education, but it's only a milestone. They still have many more years to come of education," said Domínguez

"I have to fight back some tears when I think about memories and not seeing some of these people," said Domínguez

He added some of the greatest memories he has from IVC are of, "The graduates' faces. When I shake their hands and give them their diplomas, I look in their eyes and I see a smile. Some of them are nervous while most of them just feel so much joy. It's nice."

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Domínguez said he mainly will, "Miss the ceremony itself. I will always remember the faces I've witnessed over these six years, their wonderful experiences."

Two of those faces belong to the Tapias, both now residents of El Centro.

Graduating from IVC has been tough for both. Both came from Mexicali — Cynthia Tapia in 1997 and Jorge Tapia in 1998. Both knew little to no English.

Cynthia Tapia said, "I'm very happy and satisfied with what my brother and I have accomplished."

"We owe a great part to our mother, who has supported us all this time," she said.

"It was a challenge for me to learn a new language. I knew I had to have a lot of determination. I also owe a lot of thanks to a friend who speaks a lot of English who helped me," she added.

Cynthia Tapia hopes to be awarded a scholarship to play soccer at a large university. She starred in the sport at IVC. If not, she will transfer to San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus to continue studying criminal justice. She said she wants to be either a U.S. Border Patrol agent or Immigration and Naturalization Service inspector.

Jorge Tapia said of graduating with his sister, "It feels very special."

"She had already been here (IVC) for a year so it was a challenge of mine to catch up to her, and I did," said Jorge Tapia.

"English was another challenge for me. I started in the lowest English classes when I started at IVC," he said.

"It was hard but we did it, I guess the intelligence just runs in the family," he joked.

Jorge Tapia is studying criminal justice and will transfer to SDSU-IV campus. He said he wants to become an agent for the FBI or the CIA.

Along with the Tapias, 220 other graduates participated in the ceremony Saturday. About 72 percent were women, according to a press release from the college. About 140 students graduated with honors, and 31 students graduated with distinction.

Graduates Kamille Hernandez and Michael Lopez, were given the American Legion Award from Richard Washington, commander of the 30th District American Legion.

The Arab Award was given to campus director of maintenance and Operations Rick Webster. The award is the highest one given by the Associated Students at IVC. Various students, faculty, classified staff, administrators and people from the community have received the award over the past 33 years.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

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