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Mt Sierra College Honors Graduates


84 students marched to Pomp and Circumstance before proud family and friends at the twenty-third Mt Sierra College Commencement Ceremony held Thursday, June 25 at the First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena; launching the transition from college students to graduates of Mt Sierra College.

David Thach, Senior Director of International Software Development and Special Operations for Sony Worldwide Studios America, delivered the keynote address at the ceremony. Thach shared his career’s journey, revealing his triumphs and set-backs in life. He used the poem, “The Road not Taken” by Robert Frost as a focus of his speech and how it related in his life and his journey. Thach oversees some of the company’s largest and most profitable franchises, such as Gran Turismo, LittleBigPlanet, Killzone, and Bloodborne. He also oversees the production of Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Last Guardian. Both of which were announced a few weeks ago at the E3 convention and walked away with numerous ‘Best of Show’ nominations and awards.

David earned his Bachelor’s Degree from UCLA in Music. He is clearly a man who can wear many hats – one of which is a Red Hat Certified Engineer.

Following the keynote speaker, were addresses by President, Dr. William Kakish and Provost Dr. Jon Persavich.

Following Administrative speeches were student addresses by: Shawn Olandesca Flores, speaking on behalf of Business Programs; Laura Angulo, speaking on behalf of the Technology Programs; Betty Gallaher speaking on behalf of the Media Arts & Design, emphasis in Graphic Design and Andrew Thompson, representing the Media Arts & Design Program, emphasis in Game Arts & Design.

Andrew Thompson was a mentor to all of the Game Arts students. During his time as a student at Mt Sierra he was a tutor and in Animation, Rigging, Sculpting & Level Design. Thompson spoke about all the projects they worked on together at his house, they time they spent creating the most amazing pieces and how he grew a close bond with his classmates. Thompson is currently residing in Vancouver continuing his education at the Vancouver Film Institute as well as working for Industrial Light.

Laura Angulo, is an unbelievable young lady that worked three jobs while attending school. Being in the Information Technology industry, she is one of very few women and has learned to soar in her field of study. Angulo’s goal is to become a Chief Information Officer. She spoke about the impact women have made on the world we live in today and how we have the ability to become successful based on our merits and not judged based on gender. Laura currently is employed with Wilcon, the premier West Coast provider of best-in-class fiber optic and data center infrastructure solutions helping to enable the digital future.

“Today we gather as an eclectic bunch. Some, like myself, are the nerds that will troubleshoot and fix. Some are the artists that will envision, creating marketing collateral that will attract consumers.

Others are the speculators that will reason, helping to keep this world functioning” said Angulo Shawn Olandesca Flores, was most notably known on campus a student worker for the Student Services Department on campus. Flores shared his journey and transformation from closed minded new student to a graduate that welcomed all into his life. Flores opened us into his family, talking about the important role they played in him finishing his degree and his promise to his 96 year old grandmother who recently passed to complete school, support himself first before starting a family.

“In the words of one of my favorite hip hop artists, Ab-Soul, “We’ll rise, change lives, break ties from the everyday lies, it’s not time until it’s our time,” and this is our time, because the best is yet to come.” said Flores.

Lastly, Betty Gallaher, stood before her peers, delivering a speech that brought many to tears. She shared a glimpse of her life with all that attended, expressing the many obstacles she overcame: being the first in her family to graduate high school and now the first to graduate college. Leaving her life in West Virginia, to break the cycle and continue on with her dreams. She is a complete inspiration that anything is possible and that the box of crayons her parents bought her was worth it.

She is currently working for BC Design Haus, a strategic design & branding firm that specializes in meaningful brand and design solutions for start-ups and global companies. During her time at Mt Sierra she won the Academic Excellence Scholarship and was on the Dean’s list for several terms.

Betty will always be known as a great tutor for Adobe software. “Thank you to the Professors at Mt Sierra for always pushing not only me, but all of us to our limits and seeing what we couldn’t always see in ourselves.” said Gallaher.

As eyes were dried, and friends and family applauded the heart-touching speech, the moment all anticipated finally arrived.

Provost Jon Persavich, Ph.D. conferred the degrees, and Associate Dean of Academics, Tim Botengan read the names of the students aloud as they walked across the stage in their moment of glory. Graduates turned their tassels from right to left, symbolically officiating themselves as graduates of Mt Sierra College.

Graduates exited the sanctuary in pride, as family, friends and all that attended cheered for the former students, whom are about to embark in a new beginning.


Marina Gantioque

All stories by: Marina Gantioque