A Look Inside the Numbers: Allan Hancock College's Record-Breaking Class of 2017

Commencement will be held Friday, May 26, at 1 p.m., in the Commons

may 24, 2017--Allan Hancock College’s 96th annual Commencement on Friday, May 26 will break records. A total of 993 students have earned a combined 1,411 associate degrees during the 2016-17 academic year at Hancock, both are college records.

The record number of degrees were earned in 93 different majors. The most popular degree was liberal arts-transfer: social & behavioral sciences, with 144 earned in the last year. The median age of graduating students is 24, while 59 percent of graduates are female. More than 270 students earned two or more degrees, including Emmett Lambert, who earned 10 associate degrees.

Nine students will graduate with high honors and 4.0 grade point averages. A total of 201 will graduate with honors and 3.5-3.99 grade point averages.

At 18 years and three months, Holland Davenport is the youngest member of the Class of 2017. She will earn an associate degree for transfer in English. James Makau is the oldest graduate at 66.

The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. in The Commons on the Santa Maria campus. Parking is free the day of the event. The ceremony will provide a live webcast of the ceremony beginning at 12:45 p.m. at http://www.hancockcollege.edu/graduation/index.php

Every graduate has a unique story to share and overcome obstacles along the way. Here is a look at some of the most outstanding members of the class of 2017.

VALENTINA ALVARADO

A Santa Maria native, Alvarado has demonstrated tremendous dedication and perseverance. While enrolled in 21 units at Allan Hancock College, she worked two jobs, volunteered as a tutor, and served as the director of Academic Affairs for the college’s Associated Student Body Government (ASBG).

Alvarado credited the dedicated faculty and staff at Hancock who helped and encouraged her since day one. With their assistance, she will transfer to University of California, Berkeley in the fall. Alvarado said enrolling at Hancock directly out of high school was the best decision she made because it allowed her to build confidence, mature, and learn how to succeed in and out of the classroom.

She plans to major in sociology at UC Berkeley and work for a non-governmental organization committed to helping others and protecting human rights.

JENNY CHIAO

JennyChiaoChiao will receive six associate degrees: mathematics for transfer, liberal arts for transfer: math and science, chemistry, engineering, physics, mathematics: physics emphasis. She will transfer in the fall to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to major in environmental engineering.

Chiao was accepted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Holland program, which includes a two-year scholarship and paid summer internship.

Chiao credits Hancock, the STEM Center, MESA, and countless professors for empowering and encouraging her.  After graduating from Cal Poly, she plans to become a community college professor to pass on the knowledge and passion she discovered at Hancock. Leading by example, Chiao wants to inspire more women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

BRYANT CISNEROS

At the age of 19, Cisneros made the difficult decision to leave his lifeBryantCisneros and family behind in Mexico to pursue his education and learn English in the United States. The rest, as they say, is history.

While taking classes as a full-time student at Allan Hancock College, Cisneros worked full-time as a welder. He joined the MESA program at Hancock and volunteered at a local church. All the while, he remained focused on his dream and never gave up. Cisneros will graduate with a cumulative 3.73 grade point average and receive associate degrees in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and engineering.  He will transfer in the fall to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and major in mechanical engineering. Cisneros wants to build machinery to help make a difference for people living in third world countries.

CODY COWIN

Cowin is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He was deployed twice during his four-years of service, including a seven-month tour in Iraq. Cowin returned to community college through the GI Bill, and discovered a passion for learning and teaching others.

He became active in numerous groups and programs at Hancock including STEM, MESA, and the Veteran Success Center. He thanks his instructors and college staff for supporting and believing in him and reminding him that people see him for his accomplishments, not his failures.

Cowin hopes to inspire other veterans to challenge themselves and never be afraid to fail. He also encourages veterans to attend readjustment counseling, a service he resisted at first like many veterans, but credits for helping him succeed.

A proud husband and father, Cowin will graduate this spring with an associate degree in mathematics. He will transfer in the fall to UC Berkeley. After graduating from Berkeley, Cowin plans to either enter graduate school to become a community college professor, or start working in the actuarial science field.

HOLLAND DAVENPORT

Born in February 1998, Davenport is the youngest graduate in Hancock’s Class of 2017. She will receive an associate degree for transfer in English and be the first member of her family to earn a college degree. Recently, she was accepted into the college’s PCPA program for fall 2017. Davenport plans to transfer to a four-year university on the East coast to pursue a career in drama, acting or music.

Davenport graduated from Orcutt Academy two years ago at the age of 16.

DONTE DAY

Day’s seven-year tour with the United States Air Force ended in April. He was deployed to South America, Afghanistan and Qatar over the years. Stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Day took classes through Hancock while enlisted.

Day will receive two associate degrees from Hancock and transfer to Arizona State University in the fall to major in criminology. He plans to work for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) because he can try to help prevent drugs from negatively impacting families.

He described the faculty and staff at Hancock as “awesome” and helping make the transition to civilian life as seamless as possible. He encourages any and all veterans or active members of the military to pursue their education at Hancock.

Day and his wife, Maria, are expecting their third child any day now. 

VICTOR DEALBA

A junior high school administrator once told DeAlba he would never make it in school and would end up like his brothers, who had been in trouble with the law. DeAlba sure proved that person wrong.  

DeAlba was one of 28 community college students in the state named to the 2017 All-California Academic First Team by the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Grades, leadership, and community services factored into his selection.  The Lompoc native was also one of five community college students in the state to receive a Coca-Cola Gold Scholarship.

DeAlba served as the director of external affairs for Hancock’s Associated Student Body Government (ASBG), and was a founding member of the Students Organizing for Advocacy and Retention (SOAR) Club on campus that is dedicated to improving student life at the Lompoc Valley Center. He helped expand the college’s Food Share Because We Care program to the Lompoc Valley Center to provide free food to more than 500 students and their families.

DeAlba will receive an associate degree in liberal arts for transfer in social & behavior sciences this year. He earned two associate degrees last year. He will attend the University of California, Los Angeles in the fall, where he plans to major in sociology to become a career and guidance counselor with at-risk students.

MARCELLUS GARRICK

Garrick is the first Allan Hancock College men’s basketball player to sign a national letter of intent with Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo since the Mustangs turned Division I in 1994.

A first-generation college student, Garrick was Hancock’s leading scorer at 16 points per game as a sophomore. He earned a spot on the All-Conference First Team. The South Carolina native was named to the Dean’s List for the fall 2016 semester.

Garrick will receive an associate degree in liberal arts: arts & humanities and become the first member of his family to earn a college degree. He plans to major in sports management at Cal Poly. After pursuing a career in professional basketball, Garrick would like to coach basketball, possibly at Hancock.

MICHAEL HUGGINS

After a football injury prevented Huggins from enlisting in the United States Army immediately after high school, Huggins registered at Allan Hancock College and soon discovered his new passion – community service and student advocacy.

Huggins served the last year as president of the college’s Associated Student Body Government (ASBG). He helped spearhead the push that resulted in the board of trustees passing a resolution to support diversity, unity, and undocumented students in February. A founding member of the Students Organizing for Advocacy and Retention (SOAR) Club, Huggins dedicated himself to improving student life at the Lompoc Valley Center.

Huggins will receive two associate degrees: social & behavioral sciences for transfer and political science for transfer. The Cabrillo High School graduate will transfer to Sacramento State in the fall to major in political science.

EMMETT LAMBERT

Lambert will graduate with 10 associate degrees, including eight in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. He started at Hancock as an art and liberal arts major only to change to engineering after he unexpectedly fell in love with math and science.

He will transfer in the fall to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Lambert was home schooled until arriving at Hancock. His brother and sister, as well as their spouses, are Hancock graduates.

RACHEL NAUGLE

Naugle played soccer and ran track two years at Allan Hancock College. Each year, the Santa Maria native qualified for Southern California Regionals and the State Track and Field Championships. The business administration major has a 4.0 cumulative grade point average. She will transfer to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall to pursue a career in merchandising or marketing in the fashion industry.

Naugle serves as a children’s ministry volunteer at her church and volunteers in the community with the college’s Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society.

Naugle credits Hancock for helping her grow as a person and learn to give it her all every day in everything that she does.

LIZ POMPA

Pompa will become the first member of her family to receive a college degree. She has earned an associate degree in photography.

Just three years ago, Pompa was working in the lettuce fields when her co-workers encouraged her to enroll in classes at Hancock. A few months later she registered for classes and became involved in student life. She discovered a passion at Hancock to help other people succeed and know their true potential. Pompa plans to transfer to Fresno State and earn a master’s degree to become an academic counselor. Pompa received the prestigious Latino Legacy Award this year for her support of the Latino community.

- AHC -
Caption 1: Jenny Chiao
Caption 2: Bryant Cisneros

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Last Modified May 24, 2017