South Coast College Graduation Speech 2021

President, Jean Gonzalez delivered the following graduation speech at the Hart Park, Historic Bandshell in the City of Orange on July 24, 2021.  South Coast College is celebrating its 60th year as a college and its 20th year in the City of Orange. 

South Coast College was nominated this year for the Better Business Bureau Torch Award and as a result, the faculty and staff had to explain what it is our school is all about. 

 What it is all about?  It is about providing service to others. 

First and foremost, we have an outstanding faculty and staff that has dedicated itself to the service of our students, alumni, and community in which we are located. 

Second, we offer three programs–Medical Assistant, Paralegal, and Court Reporting–that focus on providing essential services to others. 

I would like to start with our Medical Assistants.   

(May I have Dr. Basri and  the Medical Assistants stand?) 

During COVID, we saw just how essential our medical assistants who assisted in providing health services were – some working exceptionally long hours six days a week — disregarding concern for their own health and safety.  To our medical assistant new graduates, we are so proud of you.  When many others stayed home and hid away during this unprecedented time in history, you took on the challenge of studying in the medical assistant program and of persevering to complete your entire program online.   

Second, I would like to mention our Paralegal graduates. 

(May I have Stewart Lambert, Director of the Evening Paralegal Program, and the Paralegals stand?) 

 What Paralegals do is to provide an array of essential legal services to others.  Sometimes, people have the misconception that a Paralegal is a legal assistant or a legal secretary.  The ABA clarified that that the term “legal assistant” cannot be applied to a Paralegal.  A Paralegal is someone qualified to provide various essential legal services to others.   

What distinguished most of these Paralegal graduates is that they held down day jobs and worked during COVID and attended evening classes.  They are all exceptionally motivated individuals who despite the challenges of COVID persevered and completed their program.   

Finally, I would like to mention our Court Reporting graduates.   

(May I have Yolanda Krieger, Director of the Court Reporting Program, and the court reporting teachers and students stand?) 

Our Court Reporting graduates provide the verbatim records that ensures your rights whenever you are in a legal dispute or whenever your freedom is at stake in a criminal matter.  They are the guardians of the record. 

 I knew that when our Medical Assistant and Paralegal programs went online that they would be successful.  I worried about the court reporting program because it involves a skillbuilding element in addition to the  academic program.  However, I never dreamed how incredibly successful the online program would be thanks to the Director Yolanda Krieger and the court reporting teachers.   

I would have to say that this graduating class is the most incredible class that South Coast College has ever seen.  One hundred percent of the graduates are graduating with high academic honors—three with a 4.0 GPA, almost an impossible feat in court reporting.  Seven of the 12 finished in under 3 years and four of the seven in under 2 years.   

Today I am going to introduce a speaker who is one of the South Coast College alumni who serves as a role model not only to court reporting graduates but to all graduates as she has devoted her life in service of others by always trying to improve herself and her profession.   

She has worked as a deposition reporter and as an official court reporter in Los Angeles and Orange counties.  As a court reporter in Los Angeles, she saw the need for court reporters to develop realtime writing skills  and enrolled  through the years over a hundred LA court reporters in realtime writing courses at South Coast College to improve their realtime writing skills.  

As a court reporter, she referred students on a regular basis to South Coast College and mentored students on her own time.  She wrote article after article to make the public become aware of what court reporting is and what a vital service court reporting provide.   

Court reporting is actually a hidden profession, not a lot of people know about it.  She has created numerous Facebook pages, including one with the greatest following called “Why I Love Court Reporting.”  She has the entrepreneurial spirit that drives her to always want to fix problems which has led her to her latest accomplishment, developing a software program to help in finding and scheduling reporters during this shortage of court reporters that is happening nationwide. 

For some reason, South Coast College breeds entrepreneurs who have sprouted up from all three programs – from a medical assistant who decided to do prenatal ultrasound photographs to paralegals who have started their own businesses to the many entrepreneurs who have started depositions agencies. 

So it is only fitting that we have one of these outstanding entrepreneurs speak to you today.  Please listen carefully to the tips that she gives because someday soon you may be thinking in the same direction.  And as Cassandra is soon to tell you, if you believe you can do it,  you can do it.  I am so proud to present Cassandra Caldarella, CSR, Court Reporter, South Coast College Alumna, and CEO of CoverCrow and nominee for the OCBJ 2021 Innovator of the Year Award. 

The Spirit Award 

The Spirit Award is given to a student who gives of themselves to promote the program in which they are involved and represent the school in a positive way to the community.   

The Spirit Award for 2021 is given to Jennifer Burton for her efforts on behalf of the Paralegal Program.  Jennifer appeared on all the South Coast College Legal Networking Forums representing the Paralegal Program.  She was the liaison between the Orange County Paralegal Association and South Coast College.  She worked hard as a liaison and even conducted a webinar with her instructor, Attorney Kevin O’Connell, on criminal law for the association. Jennifer is already employed as a paralegal and has an outstanding recommendation from her employer.     

Shortest Period of Time 

When I tell you who is to receive this Special Recognition Award, I know that no one will dispute why she has been chosen to receive it.  She is totally deserving.   

This award is in the shape of a pyramid.  The pyramid is an ancient symbol that has been used universally to illustrate the importance of building a foundation and how the effort needed to rise to the top decreases exponentially according to the effort that is made in laying the foundation. 

The student in question came to me and asked, “How do I get to take more tests so that I can move more quickly through the program?”  I said that you can take the tests after you do the homework which is to pyramid the columns of words in the two packets required for that week.  She came back a few days later and said, “Well, I pyramided all the homework in both packets?”  I said, “Good.  You can take the tests for the week.”  She said, “I pyramided all the columns in both packets for the rest of the quarter, and here they are.”   She handed me what amounted to a bushel of paper notes.  

That was my introduction to this student’s  incredible work ethic.  She would purchase the Homework packets and while everyone was on break between quarters, she would pyramid all the homework for the upcoming quarter.  I asked her how long it took her to do that.  She said nonchalantly, “About 14 hours a day.” 

During COVID, she would sneak into school at 6:30 a.m. so that Yolanda would not see her, and leave after Yolanda left school.  She then went home to practice. 

When this student says she is going to do something, she believes that she can do it, and you better believe she can do it.  When she said she was going to finish in 1 year, she believed it.  This student with the incredible work ethic is Julia Licona who is receiving this Special Recognition Award for completing the program in 1 year and 1 month. 

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President Jean Gonzalez - Nominated in OC Business Journal's Women In Business Awards
President Jean Gonzalez
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