Dennise Lazaro never expected to go to college. But the daughter of two Pasco farmworkers was one of almost 1,300 who graduated during CBC's 58th commencement Friday at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
Lazaro, the Pasco college's Associated Student Body president, held back tears as she explained how her family and friends, especially her older sister, Yesenia, CBC's ASB president two years ago, helped her realize her dreams of graduating Friday and enrolling in more classes to become a nurse.
"My older sister has broken a lot of barriers for my younger sister and me, while also giving us the best role model to look up to," she said.
Lazaro encouraged her fellow graduates to try hard.
"I hope you find true meaning, contentment and passion in your life," she said. "I hope you navigate the difficult times and come out with greater strength and resolve."
CBC's graduates, some young, some older, donned navy caps and gowns, and celebrated earning bachelor's and associate degrees and one-year certificates to the accompaniment of cheers, claps and camera flashes from family and friends. A few future nurses added an "RN" on the top of their navy caps.
On Friday, 68 Tri-Citians received bachelor's degrees, including the first ever bachelor of applied science degrees in project management.
CBC also gave an honorary bachelor of applied science degree to Lt. Gov. Brad Owen. He couldn't attend because he was traveling to Taiwan on a trade mission, so it was given to his chief of staff.
CBC President Rich Cummins remarked on how each new graduate took a unique path to fulfill their education dream.
Katie Carbary, chairwoman of the faculty senate, encouraged graduates not to undervalue the times they tried and failed.
"After failing, a person has learned and had the opportunity to improve," she said.
Eric Clements, chairman of the CBC College Foundation, encouraged graduates to remember where they come from, be humble and make a difference.
CBC board President Duke Mitchell told graduates to "take your next step on your journey to a more successful, happier life for you, your family and those who you love and care about the most. And while you are at it, don't forget to help others whenever and wherever you can."
-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org