Allan Hancock College’s traditional in-person graduation is set for Friday morning on the school's football field in Santa Maria.
As students prepare for the big day, with the ceremony slated to start at 10:30 a.m., Antoinette Terrones and Anselmo Perez are two of more than 1,300 members of the 2023 graduating class. Both are continuing their education at Fresno State University.
Terrones, who attended Cabrillo High School, is graduating from Hancock with an Associate degree in Business Administration and says she is excited about graduation, especially after missing out on her high school graduation during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am a little nervous, but excited,” said Terrones. “I was in the class of 2020 so I didn’t really get an actual graduation. It’s exciting to be able to actually walk on the stage and be in a crowd of people.”
She credits her success at Hancock to her parents and the support of her peers, teammates and all her family in Lompoc.
As a student-athlete, Terrones played on Hancock’s soccer and softball teams. She also was a student worker in the Athletics Department and a math tutor.
“I work in athletics, and the people in this building are just amazing and they’ve helped me through a lot,” said Terrones. “They really made my experience 10 times better being here at Hancock.”
Terrones will be pursuing her Bachelor's degree in Business Management and Sports Marketing at Fresno State and says she won’t be involved in sports at the university and will focus strictly on academics.
“I’m very excited to be out on my own, and finally figure out what I want to do,” she said.
When asked for advice for college students who want to balance education and sports, Terrones says for students to remember they're not alone and don't underestimate themselves.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help, don’t be afraid to get tutoring and don’t feel that you’re not smart enough to get through a class,” said Terrones. “Some athletes don’t feel they're smart enough to pass a class and I just don’t want anyone to feel like that. They should know that they have the help, there are good tutors and counselors on their side.”
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Perez is graduating from Hancock with an Associate degree in Communication Studies.
As a native of Oaxaca, Mexico, Perez came to the United States without English speaking skills. After taking noncredit ESL classes through Hancock’s Community Education Program, Perez transitioned to credit classes and began pursuing his degree.
Perez says he is "thankful, glad and proud to be made here at Hancock."
“Hancock College is my home, I consider it to be my family, but also a factory because it's a place where I was made,” said Perez. “I feel excited and a little worried because I’m moving out from my city, so it’s going to be a new challenge in my life to further improve my education.
"I’m going from Bulldog to Bulldog and I am happy to represent Hancock College at Fresno."
While the journey to graduation presented many challenges, Perez said he received help and support from Hancock’s DREAM Club, Writing and Math centers, Counseling Department, and the college’s Men’s Support Group.
“I am thankful for Allan Hancock, because they gave me that chance. I thought in the beginning that being undocumented was going to be an obstacle for me to achieve my academic journey, but they never made me feel like that,” Perez said.
“They made me feel comfortable, they made me feel welcome, and they always treated me with respect, a lot of support and a lot of encouragement.”
Perez will be pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Media Communication and Journalism and says the reason he is taking this major is because he wants to be a professional motivational speaker and would even like to one day work with high school students as a counselor or something similar to that.
“I feel teenagers are in a crucial age where they are thinking if they should continue with education or not,” said Perez. “I just want to inspire students to continue because they can explore all their potential through education and do very great things with all the opportunities they have.”
April Chavez is the Santa Maria City Reporter for the Santa Maria Times. If you have information, or a story idea that you would like to share, send her an email at AChavez@SantaMariaTimes.com.