Colleges returning to in-person commencements
After two years of virtual commencements, Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges are going live and in full regalia in June, with 500-plus more graduates than last year, celebrating the return of in-person ceremonies.
Some 2,325 students are set to receive 5,203 degrees and certificates in processionals to be held Wednesday, June 8, at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Communication and Arts Building at Cuyamaca College, and Thursday, June 9, at 9:30 a.m. in Parking Lot 1 in front of the Performing & Visual Arts Center at Grossmont College. The ceremonies will also be livestreamed, for Grossmont College at www.grossmont.edu/commencement, and for Cuyamaca College at https://youtu.be/Imh9qJEeu8s.
“With the lifting of pandemic restrictions, we are joyfully anticipating the time-honored ritual of commencement, of hugs and tears of happiness as our graduates walk one by one to mark a tremendous achievement,” said Chancellor Lynn Neault. “The perseverance of our graduates emerging from a difficult era of COVID-19 is reflected in every degree and certificate earned.”
Each ceremony will feature a student commencement speaker, selected by the colleges. Below are short profiles on the two standout students.
Cuyamaca College student speaker
Darlene Fahl-Brittian is graduating with an associate degree in English from Cuyamaca College and an associate degree in Creative Writing from Grossmont College. She plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in English at San Diego State University, and then a master's degree in creative writing. With a 3.89 grade point average, Fahl-Brittian is graduating with honors and will attend both college commencements.
She is the author of three children's books and a fourth book about tea and meditation, all sold on Amazon under the name of Dharlene Marie Fahl. She has also been a retail gift shop owner, a restaurant general manager and director of training for a restaurant group. As a tea expert certified by the Specialty Tea Institute of America, she has traveled the world, touring tea fields and giving seminars at tea forums in India, China, and Japan.
Locally, she brings tea parties to senior communities to share her knowledge and stories.
In 2016, she received the President's Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteer Service, with her certificate signed by former President Barack Obama.
Married to a retired Navy commander, Fahl-Brittian was able to attend college through her husband's GI Bill benefits. She is grateful for the support and encouragement she received from Cuyamaca College's Veterans Center.
A mother of two and one of seven brothers and sisters, Fahl-Brittian will be the first of her siblings to earn a college degree.
“As an older student who has experienced a lot in life, my advice to my fellow graduates would be, never settle for being just average – always press for more,” she said recently.
With many graduates earning multiple degrees and certificates, Cuyamaca Collee is awarding a total of 1,167 degrees to 632 students ranging in age from 19 to 75.
Grossmont College student speaker
Tatiana Robinson, student speaker at the Grossmont College commencement, is a first-generation college student. She started college in 2009 when she was 19 years old, but left to enter the job market.
"It wasn't until my son was born that I realized I wanted more for myself so I could give my son the best life possible,” Robinson said. “So I set a goal for myself to go back to college.”
At Grossmont College, she found herself more focused, more determined, and more driven. Supported by a bevy of campus programs, the full-time mother, full-time student and full-time worker will be graduating with a 4.0 grade point average and associate degrees in Communications and Global Studies. She will be transferring to San Diego State University to pursue a bachelor's degree in Communications.
"I share my story in the hopes that it will inspire others to believe in themselves and work hard and persevere even when it seems the cards are stacked against them," she said.
Grossmont College is awarding a total 4,036 degrees and certificates this year to 1,693 different students ranging in age from 16 to 72.