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Graduation at PCC

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June 5, 1999 is the big-payoff day for the hard work and dedication of nearly 1,800 Portland Community College students, when the college celebrates their accomplishments with its 37th commencement ceremony at 11 a.m. in Memorial Coliseum. Students from all walks of life will reach out their hands to accept a handshake and a degree, one- or two-year certificate, high school diploma or GED certificate from PCC President Dan Moriarty.

What: Portland Community College’s 37th commencement ceremony

When: Saturday, June 5, 11 a.m.

Where: Memorial Coliseum

Who: Commencement Speaker is Multnomah County Commissioner Serena Cruz, who represents District 2, which includes the areas of North and Northeast Portland. Cruz has been a long-time advocate for accessible higher education, having worked in the early 1990s at PCC’s Cascade Campus as an academic advisor. She left PCC to earn a law degree and then joined the firm of Ball Janik in 1996. Before running for commissioner last fall, Cruz worked for Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten from 1996 to 1998. Cruz earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Lewis and Clark College, a master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a law degree from the UC-Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law.

The commencement emcee is PCC Rock Creek Executive Dean Bill Christopher. The student speaker is Patty Williams, who will receive her Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree.

The 36-year-old Williams is the first member of her family to go to college. She overcame personal demons to come to PCC and leaves it as one of its more successful students. Active in student government during her time at PCC, Williams also served as a student representative of the PCC Council of Presidents and the Community Colleges of Oregon Student Association and Commisssions. She was the PCC chapter president of Phi Theta Kappa, the national community college honor society.

Williams was recently named by Gov. Kitzhaber to a seat on the State Scholarship Commission. All of these achievements were accomplished while holding two jobs and a host of volunteer commitments in her community and at the college.

Prior to heading to college, Williams held a series of jobs, including stints at a truck stop, a bar, an accounting firm and a telephone company.

Williams said getting involved at PCC helped her see college as more than an obstacle to overcome on the way to success.

"Instead of being here as a means to get somewhere else, I came here because I really wanted to be here," Williams remembered. Reflecting back on her college career, Williams said she realized "just how important education is and can be in someone’s life."

Williams will attend Reed College this fall using funding provided by Reed College and federal financial aid. She will study a mixture of philosophy, religion and political science.

Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon and annually enrolls close to 86,000 full- and part-time students.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »