Approximately 600 graduates take part in ceremony hosted by Superintendent/President Dr. Joi Lin Blake and attended by families, faculty and friends.

Pictured above: Cynthia Saavedra reacts after receiving her degree at Palomar’s commencement exercises on Friday, May 24.

SAN MARCOS, CA — In a ceremony filled with heartfelt words, tributes to student success, and wild applause from family and friends, Palomar College honored its 2019 graduates with commencement exercises on Friday, May 24.

The ceremony was conducted by Joi Lin Blake, Ed.D., Superintendent/President of the Palomar Community College District, as hundreds of spectators gathered on the football practice field with graduates, faculty and college staff on a picture-perfect evening on the San Marcos campus.

“Each one of you, family and friends included, have demonstrated the power of community,” Dr. Blake said. “We are indeed better together!”

Approximately 600 students participated in Friday’s ceremony. In all, the college awarded 1,851 Associate of Arts and Science degrees, 708 Associate Degrees for Transfer, and 1,825 Certificates of Achievement and Proficiency.

The keynote speaker on Friday was Lawrence Hamilton Lawson, winner of the 2018 Distinguished Faculty Award for full-time faculty. Lawson, an Associate Professor of English as a Second Language (ESL) at Palomar, spoke about his past, including challenges overcome on the path to his current position, and urged graduates to seize opportunities ahead of them.

Palomar’s 2019 Alumnus of the Year, John Masson, also spoke during the ceremony. Masson is a lifelong leader in the North County community who has served a variety of institutions and organizations, from the Escondido City Council to the Palomar College Foundation.

This year’s Valedictorian was Petty Officer 2nd Class Jose Miguel Chevalier, an active-duty Hospital Corpsman who took his first college classes at Palomar’s education center at Camp Pendleton in 2016.

“Standing here before you, I am thankful, but I’m also humbled to celebrate this great milestone side by side with my peers, the amazing faculty and staff at Palomar College, as well as our family and loved ones,” said Chevalier. “To the class of 2019, congratulations. Let’s change the world.”

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Media contacts:

Laura Gropen, Public Affairs,, 760-744-1150 x2152

Tom Pfingsten, Public Affairs,, 760-744-1150 x2960