Ruby De La Cruz Caravantes believes it’s never too late to go into higher education so that you can improve your community, or set an example for your children.
That is why she joined about 80 other Fresno City College graduates Saturday morning inside the college gym for the Latino Graduation Celebration.
The 49-year-old De La Cruz Caravantes will transfer to Fresno Pacific in hopes of becoming a social worker or a counselor.
“I originally was a welfare-to-work recipient at one point, and I’ve seen the need to continue my education,” said the 1990 Roosevelt High School graduate. “I’ve seen the need to continue my education, and I want to better myself.”
She wants to expand her networking in higher education and be able to give back to the community.
She managed to squeeze in studies along with her full-time job and raising a family, which was complicated by the pandemic.
“It was a challenge because I didn’t get financial aid, and I had to pay out of pocket,” she said. “So it was definitely challenging working full-time and being a mother and grandmother.”
Online classes had their pros and cons, she said.
De La Cruz Caravantes, who works as a job specialist for Fresno County, has six children ages 28 to 13 and a granddaughter.
“That was the goal for today,” she said about setting an example for her family.
Her oldest children, she said, “are working” on getting a college education.
“I want to give back to our community, give back to organization, give back to people that have had a lot of barriers in their lives,” said De La Cruz Caravantes.
That is precisely what incoming president, Dr. Robert Pimentel, told the graduates.
“Remember where you came from. Give back to disadvantaged communities,” Pimentel told the graduates. “Go back to that community, don’t leave it. You can change that community.”
Pimentel, who starts his new job on July 1, has worked the previous 18 years with the West Hills Community College District.
“Don’t keep knowledge to yourself,” said Pimentel, who grew up in Huron and is familiar with working in the fields.
He advised parents to be patient with the time it takes their children to get a degree.
“If it takes 10 years to become a doctor, let them,” Pimentel said in Spanish.
Interim president Marlon Hall also spoke.
Instructor Juan Luis Guzmán wrote a poem for the ceremony, which was cancelled the last two years by the pandemic.
Mariachi Nuevo Rubi performed prior to the graduates entrance, and played ‘Marcha de Zacatecas’ as they walked to their seats.
Volunteers read the names of the graduates as they walked on stage and received a multicolored sash. One lucky student found a small cross on his sash that was good for a $100 scholarship.
State Center Community College District Trustee Magdalena Gómez joined Pimentel, Hall and other college leaders in fist-pumping the graduates as they walked off the stage.
Counselor Sonia Santana sang the national anthem.
The ceremony included a tribute to Mónica Cuevas, the popular dean of counseling who died in December. A mannequin near the stage was outfitted with her Mexican folkloric dress and the sash in the colors of the Mexican flag. Instead of a moment of silence, the students and audience broke into a healthy applause.
The event was sponsored by the Fresno City College Latino Faculty and Staff Association.