Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee campus celebrates 29 graduates

Submitted to the Sun
Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee graduating class of 2023.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Business graduate Gerardo Bravo-Perez’s favorite quote is “Ponte las pilas,” which means “put on the batteries” or give it more effort. It is a common theme for the Sierra College class of 2023. Of the 13 students who walked in the ceremony, eleven earned their Associates degrees in two years or less. This rate of completion places them in an elite group of the top 8% of CA Community College students; a remarkable achievement.

One parent described the graduation ceremony as “classy, but personal.” President Willy Duncan offered a warm welcome and local Board of Trustees representative, Paul Bancroft, spoke about the importance of belonging. With the Tahoe-Truckee Campus’ small class sizes, he pointed out that there is a place for everyone. Student Speaker Patrick Forbes invited the group to consider, as Mr. Rogers would, someone who helped you along the way. A former bartender at Palisades, Patrick is one of 25 transfer students admitted to the prestigious Amherst College in Massachusetts. He will attend in the fall and study Cultural Anthropology.

Dr. Kim Bateman, Dean delivered a heartfelt address. She used a Japanese folk tale called “The Crescent Moon Bear” to discuss the hero/heroine’s journey through higher education. The metaphor included entering difficult psychological territory, identifying obstacles, integrating the shadow, facing fears, and developing patience. The story emphasized that success is a practice rather than a single moment.

Many of the graduates, who were honored in individualized descriptions as they crossed the stage, are transferring to four-year institutions. Karla Cornejo (Sociology) will transfer to UNR to study Psychology. She wants to expand the mental health options for Hispanic people in the Tahoe-Truckee community. Ethan King (Business Administration) will attend UC San Diego as a Business Economics major. Joanna Garneau (Social and Behavioral Sciences and Allied Health) will continue in the field of Health Care Management. And, Gerardo Bravo-Perez will pursue Business at Chico State.

Some students are making their marks in the Career and Technical Education realm. Micah Ivens (Fire Technology) has already graduated from the Fire Academy and plans to go to paramedic school in the fall. Micah Rice’s (Administration of Justice) goal is to become and fire and arson investigator. Tehya Cannon (Early Childhood Education) would like to continue her education and become a child advocate in the legal or medical system. Morgan McClintock (Communications) has his sights set on employment in the gaming industry. And, Jessie Locarnini (Psychology) would like to continue in holistic health and healing.

Two particularly inspirational stories belong to Leeanalee Melton (Administration of Justice-Courts) and Cynthia Melton (Psychology), a mother-daughter team. They found themselves unexpectedly unhoused during the pandemic and endeavored their coursework using wifi in fast food restaurants and completing homework on their phones. They both made the Dean’s list.

Dr. Bateman remarked, “It is a meaningful rite of passage, and we are proud of the students we serve.”

The Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckee Campus is located in Truckee, CA. It is a bond supported community college offering general education, transfer, Career and Technical Education, OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and Community education. For more information call 530-550-2225 or visit

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