2018 Graduation Awards SMC's First Bachelors of Science Degrees in Interaction Design

Santa Monica College’s 88th annual commencement ceremony welcomed the graduating class of 2018, which represented the largest graduating class in the college’s history. Four thousand nine hundred and eighteen students received their diplomas on Tuesday, June 12 at the college’s Corsair Field.

Just after 6 p.m., graduating students wearing their cap and gown filed into their designated bleacher seats as guests cheered and clapped. SMC’s president, Dr. Kathryn Jeffery, welcomed the excited families, friends, and loved ones of the graduates on that sunny afternoon. The large crowd filled the bleachers set up for the graduation.

For the first time in SMC history, 18 students will be receiving Bachelors of Science degrees in interaction design, also called user-experience design. SMC's website for prospective Interaction Design students defines the major; it reads, "Interaction Designers help define the way things look, how they work, and how they fit into people’s lives." 

The ID program is a result of SMC's participation in the California Community College Bachelor Degree Pilot Program. This program was created by the state legislature (Senate Bill 850) as a pilot program currently scheduled to expire in June of 2023. However, if the program is popular, it is possible it will be extended.

Dr. Jeffery pointed out the diverse national background of SMC students. She said, “Please take note of the flags behind me, the flags on the field. This wonderful display showcases the diversity of our SMC students, and we have flags representing one hundred and one nations, all the countries of origin of our students.” Dr. Jeffery then introduced Ryan Ang, this year's student speaker, to lead the crowd in the pledge of allegiance.

SMC’s board of trustees were introduced to the crowd, followed by a speech from the board chair, Berry Snell. “Graduates, the strength and originality of each one of you has always been inside you. And Santa Monica College is only one of the steps of your ladder of greatness,” Snell said.

Ryan Ang was then invited to the podium to deliver the student challenge speech to the crowd. Ang started his speech off by dedicating it to those who may be suffering from a mental illness. “I believe it’s important for us to remain ever more vigilant and be on the lookout for our peers,” he said. “Cliche as it may be, life is short. Because of this, I challenge all of you to live purposeful lives, which I believe consists of three elements,” said Ang.

“First, a purposeful life challenges us to stop worrying and start living - remember the irrationality of being anxious, and recognize that we possess the ability to shape our future,” said Ang to the audience. He then referenced a quote by Abraham Lincoln, “To predict the future, you have to create it.” He went on to state the second element of a purposeful life, which is to, “serve and empower others, especially the marginalized.” Ang stated that the third element of a purposeful life is to, “always remember to appreciate the miracles that we are.” He concluded his speech by asking the crowd to turn to their neighbor and tell them, “You are a miracle and you are beautiful.”

After the graduates received their various certificates and/or diplomas, the crowd was invited to a celebration reception in the schools quad.