Crafton Hills College held its 47th annual commencement ceremony for students graduating with associate degrees and certificates on the evening of May 24. A large crowd of the graduates’ families and friends filled the outdoor quad at Crafton’s scenic campus, with a view of the entire city of Yucaipa from the lofty heights of Sand Canyon Road. Yet this was no stuffy ivory tower, as professors and graduates wore cool shades and were decked out with colorful leis and creatively decorated mortarboards.
President of Crafton Hills College Kevin Horan congratulated the graduates on their achievement.
“Graduates, your success is our success,” Horan said.
According to Horan, the class of 2019 is the largest ever at Crafton Hills College, with 678 graduating students who earned a total of 761 degrees and 376 certificates. Of the awarded associate degrees, 43 percent are transferable to the Cal State University system. 180 students earned a 3.5 or higher grade point average, and 32 earned a 4.0 GPA.
First generation college students comprised 45 percent of the graduating class.
The youngest grad was 18 years old, the oldest 68, and there were 24 graduating veterans.
Jeff Cervantez, a professor of philosophy and religious studies at Crafton Hills College who was recently appointed to city council in Calimesa, was one of the keynote speakers along with Anthony Abate, a sociology and communications major who graduated with honors.
Abate addressed his fellow graduates with a stirring speech about passion and burnout. A high school dropout and formerly homeless, Abate is familiar with the gritty realities of life. Yet he now directs that grit and determination toward pursuing his dreams.
“I encourage you to surround yourselves with people who ignite your fire,” said Abate. In contrast, he warned, failing to live passionately leads to embers of apathy and burnout. And today’s world, with so many causes in need of passionate people to take them up, would benefit from those who refuse to compromise their dreams.
Cervantez encouraged the graduating students to cultivate a “growth mindset” and never stop learning. Rather than the modern utilitarian perspective of education as a means to earn money or status, Cervantez reflected upon a concept similar to the ancient Greek paideia, the idea that a person is to be crafted like a work of art by a standard of excellence.
“Your background isn’t destiny, but you are responsible for who you become,” said Cervantez.
Though many people today may think of a degree just as a job ticket, Cervantez told the graduates that the most important aspect of education is the formation of character. An unstable economy and rapidly changing job market can’t take that away.