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AWC graduates celebrated during ‘La Cosecha’ event

Ceremony recognizes those who overcame obstacles to go on to attend a four-year university

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Graduation season kicked off in Yuma Wednesday night with a celebration of some of the Desert Southwest's best and brightest college students.

Arizona Western College (AWC) held a La Cosecha event to recognize the achievements of students who will go on to finish their educations at a four-year university. The ceremony did more than commemorate their academic achievements in front of their classmates and loved ones, it also commended them for overcoming a variety of obstacles.

Attorney Candy Camarena provided two La Consecha scholarships

To qualify for recognition, students had to meet one of four criteria. Some are first-generation college graduates. Some managed to earn their degrees while relying on student aide to attend classes. Others have overcome disabilities, while others have overcome extraordinary circumstances, like illness or family tragedy, to complete their associates degree.

In addition to a certificate and a sash of recognition, some of the graduates will receive scholarships. Two will receive $2,500 grants. 15 others will be awarded $1,000.

AWC funds the scholarships through donations from staff, faculty, alumni, and the community. Local attorney Candy Camarena is one such alumnus. This year's Camarena is providing the $2,500 scholarships. He has also sponsored the banquet portion of the event for the past 20-years.

This year's keynote speaker was David Estrada, Community Relations Manager and Coach/Scout for the New Mexico's Somos Unidos Foundation. Estrada played professional soccer for 11-years, and received the Humanitarian of the Year award four times. He provides the foundation's mission by providing high-level coaching at no cost.

“For you guys that attained a degree during the pandemic, I think that's something that you should be very, very proud of. I think it's probably one of the most challenging times that we can remember it. In our current and recent history. And I hope that you guys are really proud of that because I know that didn't come without any self doubt, without any tears and without any frustration,” Estrada said during his address.

Estrada is originally from Salinas, but his father worked in Yuma's agricultural community for years.

Featured student speakers included Nelly Rosiles and Gerardo Reyes Haro. Rosiles is graduating with a degree in justice studies, while Haro will get his degree in social work with a cross-border emphasis.

Article Topic Follows: Graduation News

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