week's graduating class was the largest in MiraCosta College history.
We awarded more than 1,400 associate degrees and 1,100 certificates.
Never before had I seen our campus as vibrant and alive as when nearly
500 of our graduates marched down our long faculty recessional line,
diplomas and certificates in their hands, smiles on their faces, and
pride and promise in their eyes. Each of these students came to
MiraCosta College with a different goal and purpose, and each is leaving
with the skills and knowledge that will serve them well throughout the
rest of their lives. These students are now off to public and private
colleges and universities throughout the state and nation, or off to
start new careers in the fields of their choice.
year, I share the profiles of a few of the students who just earned
their degree or certificate from MiraCosta College. Each of these
stories is unique, but each also shares a common thread: these alumni
remained vigilant in their commitment to receiving a high quality
education, and each was guided by the expert and caring faculty and
staff at MiraCosta College.
Alina O’Tool: Talk
about an odyssey. Born under communist rule in Poland, Alina O’Tool
witnessed the rise of the Solidarity movement, the country’s first free
elections and its transition to democracy. She moved to Germany and
married an American, and she and her husband spent stints in
Switzerland, India and England before settling in North County.
Her life really changed when the 40-year-old mother of two enrolled at MiraCosta College two years ago. “When
I went to my first class, I was so scared. I said to myself, `I want to
go back home.’ But the professors helped me so much, the people were so
supportive. They gave me confidence. I learned that if you do the work,
they will not let you fail.”
will transfer to a University of California campus in the fall with a
4.0 grade point average. Her plans include studying human development
and earning a Ph.D.
She says she turned to MiraCosta College
with one goal in mind: improve her English. “The only English I knew
was from talking to my husband,” O’Tool said. “I couldn’t help my
children with their homework. I was working at a Target, and I said this
was not what I wanted to do with my life.”
She soon opted to seek an associate in arts degree.
you work hard and you believe in yourself, and if you have people
around you who are supporting you and believe in you, you can do
anything,” O’Tool said.
Richard Huizar: After concluding that he couldn’t afford to attend San Diego State University, Richard Huizar turned to MiraCosta College.
one of the best moves he has made in his young life. The 19-year-old
graduated last week with an associate degree in applied mathematics as
an Honors Scholar with a 3.9 GPA. He is also a Medal of Honor recipient,
on the President’s List, scored a perfect 800 on the SAT subject tests
in math and physics, and plans to earn a Ph.D.
College was my educational destiny,” Huizar said. “It is an amazing
place with a positive environment and excellent faculty and staff. It
gave me an opportunity to transfer to a great four-year program and
showed that I can do anything I wanted.”
Huizar has financed much of his education by working three jobs. One is tutoring in the EOPS/CalWORKs Program helping underprivileged and underrepresented students in lower-level mathematics courses.
of these people have failed these classes before and are about to give
up, so it’s great to see them succeed,” Huizar said.
is the first in his family to graduate from college. “I want to show my
younger family that higher education and their dreams are possible--a
matter of course, not something out of reach for us.”
is eyeing a career in engineering, but says he hasn’t focused on a
particular area yet. “I’m going to miss MiraCosta,” Huizar said. “It’s
my home away from home. I’m there all the time.”
just learned he was accepted to attend one of the most prestigious
universities in the country, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT), to study applied mathematics this fall.
Marine Corps veteran Alex Klimek, who grew up in Champaign, Illinois,
first came to Oceanside in 2001 when he enlisted in the service and was
stationed at Camp Pendleton. When he left the Marines a few years later,
Klimek held a series of jobs that ranged from customer service
representative at a Carlsbad auto dealership to auditor at two North
few years ago, Klimek decided to give MiraCosta College a try. “I
didn’t really have any direction in my career and I really couldn’t stay
in just one industry.” It was while he was at MiraCosta College that
Klimek learned of an opening at Genentech, which manufactures medicines
to treat a variety of illnesses. Klimek soon secured a job supporting
quality control analysts by preparing glassware and equipment for
testing. Eager to learn more about the industry, Klimek’s focus at
MiraCosta quickly turned to biotech.
“It was a whole new industry for me,” Klimek said. “I wanted to learn everything I could.”
Klimek has earned his degree, he plans to remain at MiraCosta College
for additional courses before transferring to UC San Diego.
is a great school,” he said. “It has invaluable resources. The
admissions office is very helpful, the book loan program has been great
and they have an excellent tutoring program both in person and online.”
Her resume says it all: CEO for a nonprofit she founded; sales and
marketing professional for the Italian fashion company Versace, and
social media coordinator for a San Diego piano studio. She speaks fluent
Russian, is a skilled musician, and engages in extensive volunteer
Oh, and Ariella Sosis is just 19 years old. The Honors Scholar
graduated this spring with a 4.0 GPA, is a Medal of Honor recipient,
and will attend the extremely competitive Haas School of Business at UC
Berkeley this fall.
She hopes one day to run an international nonprofit.
of Sosis’ first projects at MiraCosta College was launching a Hillel
chapter for Jewish students. “It was kind of lonely for me Jewish-wise,”
Sosis said. “There were no Shabbat services, no Purimspiels (a comic
dramatization retelling the story of Purim) or anything like that.”
Three years later, Hillel of MiraCosta College has more than 100
Sosis came to MiraCosta College upon graduating from Del Norte High School in San Diego when she was 16.
has some of the best faculty members anywhere, faculty members who
support you no matter what you do,” Sosis said. “It has a dedicated
staff that cares about the school and believes in it.”
Philosophy professor and longtime family friend Isabel Luengo is one of Sosis’ biggest boosters.
is a girl who has always had a lot of initiative,” Luengo said. “Even
when she was in middle school and high school, she took charge, worked
well with others and had set very clear goals while finding a way to