SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Pomp and circumstance was the theme of the day at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria.
On Friday, in front of hundreds of family members, friends, faculty and staff, a record-breaking number of students received associate degrees during the school's 96th commencement.
Under a cool, cloudy sky, the two-hour ceremony was held in The Commons area in the middle of campus.
During the event, 993 students earned 1,411 associate degrees, which are both record numbers for the community college.
“Graduates, today you set out on a new path,” said Hancock Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers, Ph.D, during the ceremony.. “Whether you are starting a new job next week or preparing to continue working toward a bachelor’s degree, I hope you will dream big. If you follow your heart and be good at what you love, you will go far.”
In addition, more than 270 students earned more than one degree, including Emmett Lambert of Orcutt.
Lambert, who is transferring to Cal Poly to study engineering, earned an amazing 10 different degrees, including eight in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
"It's a great learning environment," said Lambert. "Great teachers. I enjoyed the camaraderie and the academic rigors."
Many students, such as Righetti alum Elizabeth Pompa became the first college graduates in their family.
"I worked really hard," said Pompa. "I used to work in the fields, so I've done a lot to be here today and I'm really happy."
Among the speakers was Michael Huggins, who served the last year as president of the Associated Student Body Government.
“This is not the moment to rev down your engines, rather, this is the time to gather every bit of strength you have and press forward into the world,” said Huggins, who will transfer to Sacramento State. “We need you because we all have a stake in our future. This college community has taught me the importance of supporting each other throughout our educational journey. I realize now that it’s not just in education where we must support each other, but it’s also in our journey through life.”
Two-hundred-one graduates received honors for having 3.5-3.99 grade point averages, while nine received high honors for 4.0 GPAs.
A geographical breakdown of the graduates saw the most, not surprisingly, coming from Santa Maria, with a total of 476. Lompoc was next with 189 graduates, followed by 71 from Nipomo, 35 from Arroyo Grande, 26 from Guadalaupe, 26 from Orcutt and 14 in the Santa Ynez Valley.