Cabrillo College held its first-ever virtual graduation on May 22, during which 1,641 students received degrees and certificates.
The number of graduates was an 11% increase from the year before, says Cabrillo spokeswoman Kristin Fabos.
This year, Cabrillo awarded 1,034 A.A. degrees and 541 A.S. degrees. In addition, 306 students graduated with an Associate’s Degree for Transfer, a unique degree offered by the California Community Colleges for transfer into the CSU system.
“In total, we saw a 23% increase in award recipients compared to last year,” says Cabrillo Superintendent and President Dr. Matthew Wetstein. “To accomplish that feat in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis is nothing short of stunning.”
Cabrillo graduates also earned 287 Certificates of Achievement and 661 Skills Certificates. The college’s class of 2020 ranged in age from 18 to 76.
The Cabrillo College Class of 2020 boasts a record 165 students who graduated with a 4.0 grade point average, which was nearly a 38% increase over last year.
Transfer students have been admitted to universities such as UCLA, UCSC, Amherst, Boston University, Cal Poly Pomona, Northwestern, Oberlin College and Conservatory, Tufts and Vanderbilt.
One graduate was Dulce Lizarraga-Chagolla, who was born in La Paz, Mexico and moved to the United States when she was 17.
She took English classes in the mornings and at Santa Cruz High school at night. After five months, she got her first paying jobs as a prep cook at Staff of Life grocery store in the morning, and at the Dolphin Restaurant at night.
Lizarraga-Chagolla tried to take English at Cabrillo, but struggled due to a then-unknown learning disability.
When she became a single mother at 22, Lizarraga-Chagolla realized that if she wanted to provide a better future for her daughter, she needed to have her GED. She returned to adult school and earned it after passing her final exams two weeks before she gave birth.
After more than 15 years of working minimum-wage jobs to support her family, and after her daughter moved away to attend San Francisco University, Lizarraga-Chagolla returned to Cabrillo in the spring of 2015, where she discovered the help she needed at the Accessibility Support Center.
“The new Dulce was born,” Fabos said in a prepared statement. “She finally realized that she has a learning difference that impeded her to learn efficiently, and with the ASC support her grades started to improve as did her motivation to learn.”
Lizarraga-Chagolla now serves as a Student Ambassador at the school working in the Welcome Center. She also worked as an assistant in the ESL classes for parents of high school students.
In the spring, she worked as a supplemental instruction leader for the Human Services 50 and 52 classes. She earned a 4.0 GPA and graduated with a Human Services degree.
Lizarraga-Chagolla will be transferring to Cal State Monterey Bay in the fall to study a dual concentration degree in Social Work and Public Health, and she’ll be the first one in her family to reach that level of education.