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North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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MiraCosta College to Hold Commencement Ceremony May 22

Oceanside CA— Approximately 500 of MiraCosta estimated 2,034 graduates will celebrate at the college’s 80th commencement ceremony, to be held Friday, May 22, at 5 p.m. in front of the Administration Building on the Oceanside Campus, 1 Barnard Drive. Admission is free, and parking permits are not required.

Samantha Webb
Samantha Webb

The youngest graduate this year is only 17, while the oldest is almost six decades older at 74 years old. Graduate Samantha Webb will deliver this year’s commencement address. Webb is a foster youth student who has achieved tremendous success against all odds.
When she was a young teenager, Samantha Webb’s mother passed away unexpectedly. The 13 year old, along with her 10-year-old brother, Thomas, packed up their bags and moved from central to southern California to live with their father.
The stint with their dad was anything but pleasant. The trio moved from hotel to hotel while their father, a methamphetamine addict, often left Samantha and Thomas alone to fend for themselves. When he was there, he was mentally and physically abusive. Soon, the two children found themselves a new home, in foster care. Unfortunately, they couldn’t stay together—Samantha was sent to live in Oceanside and Thomas ended up in a group home in San Diego.
Despite her intense challenges and struggles, Samantha thrived at Oceanside High School, where she earned a 3.8 grade point average and became involved in basketball, volleyball, and track-and-field. She earned a high school diploma and was accepted to a four-year university with a partial scholarship. Not wanting to leave her brother behind, she declined the offer and chose to attend community college.
While at MiraCosta College, Samantha became involved with the EOPS Program, which she said kept her connected, committed and focused. She also worked at Casa de Amparo, became a preschool teacher, and now works as a compliance coordinator for Genentech.
Graduating from college means the world to the now 28-year-old, whose mother had nearly completed an associate degree in psychology before her untimely death. Samantha vowed to fulfill her mother’s dream by earning an associate degree herself.
Today, Samantha is graduating from MiraCosta College with a degree in liberal arts with an emphasis in social and behavioral sciences and will transfer to CSU San Marcos in the fall where she will major in business.
Among those securing their diplomas are also the following four graduates who took unique paths to reach their destinations. They are:

Antoine Stevens-Phillips:

Antoine Stevens-Phillips
Antoine Stevens-Phillips
Setting his sights on a career as a political consultant, Antoine Stevens-Phillips enrolled at MiraCosta College on the advice of an uncle. No surprise, then, that he quickly rose to become vice president of legislative affairs for the Associated Student Government and later student trustee for the college district.
“Being at MiraCosta College has been an amazing experience and will play an instrumental role in helping me reach my goals,” said the 28-year-old native of Detroit, who is the first in his family to go to college and eventually plans on enrolling in law school. “There are so many resources here and so many people willing to help.”
To say that Stevens-Phillips has been a success at MiraCosta College would be an understatement. Besides his work with ASG, he has a 3.9 grade-point average, is deeply involved in the Honors Scholar Program, belongs to the Phi Theta Kappa Society and serves as a consultant in the Writing Center at the Oceanside Campus.
Being involved in student government has helped show Stevens-Phillips how special MiraCosta College is.
“I interact with my peers at colleges all across the state and many of them tell me they feel like they’re just a number where they are. You don’t feel that way at MiraCosta. The professors, the faculty, the staff, the counselors they are all here to help guarantee your success.”
Stevens-Phillips has been accepted to all universities he applied to including UC San Diego, UCLA and UC Berkeley.
Jason Blevins
Jason Blevins

Jason Blevins:

Marine Corps veteran, Jason Blevins, found civilian life a challenge to get back into after being in service for five years.
Blevins chose to attend MiraCosta College knowing about the college’s supportive environment in which he can build a new foundation for himself and his family.
“After being out of school for years, I needed an environment that offered help and support to students whenever they needed it,” said Blevins. “MiraCosta College offered just that.”
In summer 2015, Blevins, a computer science major, will start his internship as a software developer at Hewlett-Packard (HP). His long-term goals include becoming an independent software developer and business owner.
Blevins plans to transfer to a university in California in the fall of 2015.

CoCo Brown:

Former Associated Student Government (ASG) President and Inter-Club Council chair CoCo Brown is no stranger to hard times. The once homeless student had to help fend for family while living out of a vehicle.
“I remember my mother keeping her head down as she cried because she didn’t want me to see her tears,” Brown said. “She was ashamed and apologetic that we were homeless.”

CoCo Brown
CoCo Brown

On her 17th birthday, Brown promised herself and her family they would never be homeless again.
Brown studied hard and in 2009 she graduated from the MiraCosta College Adult High School Diploma Program. She immediately enrolled in MiraCosta’s credit classes and soon found herself balancing school and work while keeping a roof over her head.
“I coped with juggling school and work by being determined, keeping strong people in my life and having a plan,” said Brown. “Most of all I kept praying and thanking Jesus every day throughout the day.”
Apart from ASG and Inter-Club Council, Brown is a leading member of the Black Student Union (BSU) and an alumnus of the Latina Leadership Network.
“These programs gave me something to look forward to,” Brown said. “They kept me busy so I had no reason to run the streets.”
Brown will receive an associate’s degree in kinesiology and health science. She plans to transfer to San Diego State University or Dominguez Hills in fall 2015.

Dee Jaykus:

On the journey of finding a better life for herself, Dee Jaykus found MiraCosta College.
Originally from Connecticut, Jaykus, 49, moved to California in 2003. During the height of the recession in 2009 even her two decades of experience as an executive personal assistant could not help her find a job.
“I felt very depressed, dejected and unworthy,” said Jaykus. “I felt forced into an early retirement and couldn’t at the time do anything about it.”
In 2012, Jaykus found MiraCosta College and soon realized her discovery was everything she had hoped for.
“When I arrived on campus, I just felt very welcomed, encouraged and supported,” said Jaykus.
Jaykus focused on school and thrived in her classes. She also became a campus aid for the MiraCosta College foundation office and three years later, a full-time permanent classified employee.
Today, Jaykus considers the MiraCosta College faculty and staff as her family and does not ever see herself going anywhere else.
“I never want to leave and now I can also say I am a proud MiraCosta alumna.”
Jaykus plans on transferring to Cal State San Marcos to finish her bachelor’s degree.

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MiraCosta College to Hold Commencement Ceremony May 22