Story by Lisa Gomez, Teacher/VEP College Coordinator,
California Men’s Colony

Photos by Lt. Monica Ayon, California Men’s Colony

More than 220 inmates were recognized in an Aug. 6 ceremony at California Men’s Colony.

California Men’s Colony (CMC) Central Coast Adult School’s East Facility graduation ceremony honored 224 students who achieved educational milestones.

In attendance were 126 GED (General Educational Development) graduates, 32 vocational graduates, and six college graduates.

The remaining 60 students, many of which have paroled or transferred, were unable to attend.

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Keynote speaker California Men’s Colony Warden Elvin Valenzuela addresses the graduates.

Keynote speaker Warden Elvin Valenzuela addressed the graduates, congratulating them for their dedication and determination to allow them to reach their educational goal.

Warden Valenzuela praised them for taking advantage of the opportunities CMC has to offer and constructively using their time. The Warden also suggested they should continue to seek out and focus their time on programs to benefit them when they return to their communities.

Two GED graduates and a former college graduate spoke to their peers about the impact of finally obtaining an accomplishment in their life which at one time seemed so far beyond their reach.

They all thanked the educational staff at CMC for their encouragement and support which in turn allowed them to motivate themselves to reach their goal.

Staff from the CMC Education Department and Warden Elvin Valenzuela present diplomas.

Staff from the CMC Education Department and Warden Elvin Valenzuela present diplomas.

The graduates expressed their appreciation for the programs CMC’s Education Department offers enabling them to transition to more positive and productive individuals.

They also encouraged their peers to look within themselves to understand their potential and assist others in doing the same.

Dr. Julian Crocker, Superintendent for San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, congratulated the graduates and said she was honored to attend the ceremony.

He described the ceremony as “incredibly touching” and one of the best graduation ceremonies he has had the honor of attending.

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Graduates turn their tassels during the graduation.