May 17, 2013 11:41 AM by Nathan O'Neal

Despite past problems, PCC graduates look forward

TUCSON - Pima Community College's largest graduating class in history received their diplomas Thursday night at the Tucson Convention Center.

The group has witnessed a great deal of turmoil in their time at PCC. A recent investigation by the Higher Learning Commission was critical of the college during the tenure of Former Chancellor Roy Flores. The report found PCC to foster a "cultur of fear" among faculty and administrators.

The college has since been put on probation, putting its accreditation at risk.

More than 3,700 students received their diplomas in the wake of a college scorned by controversy. However, many of the graduates took that reality in stride.

"It can affect you if you choose to let it but really Pima is a great place to go to school. It hasn't affected the learning of the students," PCC student commencement speaker Joshua Place said. "Maybe [the problems] affected the overall feel of it but it's really going in the right direction."

For the students, this graduation was bigger than all the past problems that have plagued Pima Community College.
"I hope it improves," said graduate Cynthia Samanigeo. "I mean everybody hopes that we'll come out of the probation that we'll be better at what we were doing and that there will be no more problems."

Interim Chancellor Zelema Harris said the graduation is a symbol of PCC's place in the community.
"Collectively our graduates have become the backbone of a thriving prosperous Tucson and Pima County," Harris said.

It's those types of graduates like Enriqueta Fassler, who is helping to shape what a PCC alum looks like. Fassler is the oldest graduate at 70 years old, proving that it's never too late to start again.
"The young people around in Tucson they should continue studying because I also kept on studying," Fassler said.


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