More than 330 students graduated during the 21st Commencement Ceremony held May 18 at the Madera Community College Center.
It was the largest graduating class in the history of the Madera and Oakhurst Community College centers.
Jennifer Buchanan of Ahwahnee was recognized as a Student of Note from the Oakhurst Center, and Francisco Garza was the Student of Note for the Madera Center. The two were selected for overcoming significant obstacles to achieve their academic goals.
Dr. Ana Avalos, a former Madera Community College Center student from 1999 to 2000, was the keynote speaker at the ceremonies.
Avalos obtained a bachelor’s degree from Fresno State and a doctorate in dental surgery from University of California, San Francisco. A Veteran Naval Officer, Avalos spent part of her military assignment serving as a general dentist in Yokosuka, Japan from 2006 to 2009.
Following completion of her Navy commitment in Japan, she was a general dentist at the San Ysidro Health Center near San Diego.
Avalos returned to Madera in 2014 where she works with Camarena Health as a general dentist serving local patients. She told the graduates how she came from humble beginnings, working in the fields picking grapes with her mother. She encouraged the students to dream big and believe in themselves.
Other Mountain Area graduates included:
☆ Jennifer Bulawsky and Stacy Demers of Oakhurst.
☆ Conly Biglione, Danielle Holt and Helen Toole of Coarsegold.
☆ Timothy Tarr of Ahwahnee
☆ Christina McDonald of North Fork.
NOTE: Reedley College, established in 1926, is a campus of State Center Community College District. Reedley College is comprised of the main campus located in Reedley and college centers located in Oakhurst and Madera. The College and Centers serve approximately 14,000 students annually.