Region IX

Student leaders recognized by Assemblyman Obernolte’s office

Region IX

A certificate of recognition from Assemblyman Jay Obernolte’s office was presented to the Region IX of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC) during a meeting at Victor Valley College on September 20th.

VVC’s Associated Student Body (ASB) Council falls within the ninth region of the Student Senate, along with 12 other community colleges in Southern California. SSCCC exists to “promote and safeguard access for current and future students to California public higher education,” according to its mission statement.

Christopher Scott, a field representative for Obernolte, presented the certificate during Region IX’s regular monthly meeting, which rotates its location between the colleges.

“We just wanted to stop by, express our gratitude, and thank you all for advocating for and giving our students a greater voice throughout our region,” Scott said.

Student delegates represent each of the colleges in the region, including Maria Soto, VVC ASB’s Student Advocate. Two of VVC’s Council members also serve on the Region IX Executive Board: ASB President Gabriel Kelvin as the Treasurer for Region IX and Student Language & Development Senator Joseph Salama as the Region IX Communications Officer.

“SSCCC is the recognized student voice by the state,” Kelvin said. “Not being active at a regional level makes your school fall silent in important discussions being held that affect all schools.”

Scott called SSCCC “an impressive organization” and gave it credit for pushing several resolutions and bills through legislature. 

“But specifically we wanted to give a shout out to Region IX for being so active in their advocacy efforts for our students,” Scott said. 

The certificate from the 33rd District Assemblyman’s Office reads: “In recognition of your many contributions to our community. Thank you for advocating for and giving our community college a broader voice throughout the region. Congratulations and best wishes!”

Kelvin said the meeting had perfect attendance, some in person and others over conference call, a respectable feat since the 13 member colleges of the region sprawl over 250 miles, from Blythe to Barstow.

“It’s fantastic that the state assemblyman’s office recognizes the hard work we do and the advocacy we do for students,” Kelvin said. “For a representative and legislator to commend a group centered around representation and legislation, it was a great honor to receive such a certificate.”

The Region IX Board is currently discussing with the Chancellor’s Office the idea of organizing a student-led survey to gather information on Guided Pathways and student retention. They are also working with constituent campuses to ensure they are active in participatory governance.


Victor Valley College graduates record number of Rams

Hundreds of burgundy caps are on display at the largest ever Victor Valley College commencement ceremony on June 7th, 2019. (Fabian Guillen)

Victor Valley College’s 2019 commencement ceremony was the largest in its 58-year history, celebrating more than 1,330 graduates who’ve earned associate degrees.

As such, the event was held at America’s largest outdoor music venue, Glen Helen Amphitheater, for the first time ever to accommodate the near-600 graduates who walked and more than 7,000 guests on Friday.

A sea of nearly 600 burgundy caps and gowns lies before about 7,000 guests attending the 2019 Victor Valley College graduation. (Fabian Guillen)

“You are all examples of the college mission at VVC,” Superintendent/President Dr. Daniel Walden said. “Today, you not only accomplished your goals of completing your associate of arts or science degrees — you join a distinguished list in becoming alumni of Victor Valley College.”

The significant number of degrees earned by students this past year marks a 30 percent increase from last year, with nearly 900 candidates from this Spring semester alone. In addition, close to 400 certificates of achievement were earned among the class of 2019.

Following the National Anthem, performed by the College Singers and led by Dr. Karen Miskell, Music Department chair and vocal music director, Walden introduced the Board of Trustees, cabinet, administration, and elected officials (among them City of Adelanto Council Member Joy Jeanette, one of VVC’s first students in 1961).

College Board President Dennis Henderson spoke next, offering praises and best wishes on behalf of the trustees.

“I hope that your experience at VVC challenged you. That it broadened your horizons. Taught you both academic and life lessons,” Henderson said. “Continue to learn, continue to grow, and continue to make us proud. I know you will.”

President of the VVC Foundation, Mike Nutter, encouraged graduates to “consider paying it forward” to the students who will follow in their footsteps.

Mike Nutter
Victor Valley College Foundation President Mike Nutter delivers a message to graduates during the 2019 commencement ceremony. (Fabian Guillen)

“You will not only enrich your own lives, but the lives of the people around you and the community you call home,” Nutter said.

Faculty Senate President Harry “Lee” Bennett Jr. asked the crowd to join him in thanking VVC’s dedicated faculty and academic leadership, with special recognition to retiring communication studies professor Dr. Gregory Jones.

To the graduates, Bennett said: “Your journey was not accomplished solely because of your tenacity and dedication — it was accomplished because of the support from your friends and family and the dedication of the faculty, staff and administrators of VVC.”

Dawning stoles from both the Associated Student Body Council and the Black Student Union, ASB President Tristan Wilkerson introduced himself to guests in his native language of Wampanoag, that of a Native American tribe.

Tristan Wilkerson
Tristan Wilkerson, Victor Valley College Associated Student Body Council President of 2018-2019, delivers a commencement speech at Glen Helen Amphitheater on June 7th. (Rochelle Aldridge)

“I offer you peace, love and friendship,” he said in Wampanoag before continuing with words of encouragement for his fellow graduates.

“Strategically place yourself in environments that empower you,” Wilkerson said. “Be a warrior forged in fire but tempered by knowledge and love.”

Walden introduced commencement speaker Assemblyman Jay Obernolte next, who shared his story about the many “twists and turns” his career took. From not having a plan after college to landing in jobs he didn’t seek out, Obernolte’s best learned advice is to “not have so much stress about where life is going to take you.”

“There will be many doors open to you. Your job at this stage of life is to close as few doors as possible,” Obernolte said. “And I want you to know that your community college will always be here for you. Whenever you feel like you need to brush up your skills or learn something that you didn’t get an opportunity to, you could always come back and do that.”

Executive Vice President of Instruction Dr. Peter Maphumulo gave special recognition to all of the honor graduates, Phi Theta Kappa international honors students, those who served the ASB Council and veteran students.

Veteran students were given special recognition during the 2019 Victor Valley College commencement.

He also introduced salutatorian Danika Hennessy and the nine valedictorians, Isaac Carranza, Sarah Francis, Barbara Gutierrez, Ashley Langston, Joshua Sanchez, Sandra Schumacher, Yeni Serrano, Samantha Tossell and Juliyana Hasroun.

Hasroun, who was selected as the valedictorian speaker, shared her experience of coming to VVC as an English learner hoping to improve her language skills to becoming dedicated to earning the “highest grade possible in each class.”

Juliyana Hasroun, one of nine valedictorians of the Class of 2019, offers words of encouragement to her peers during graduation. (Fabian Guillen)

“This moment is living proof that magical things can happen when we have the right motivation and are impacted by a strong willpower,” Hasroun said. “We’ve made it really far, my friends, and we ought to be very proud of our achievements.”