As the last few students took their seats on the football field, Santa Monica College President Chui Tsang approached the podium.
“We’re drawing from this exercise to find strength in our sadness and to turn our anger into action for positive changes in this world," Tsang said as he began the ceremony with a moment of silence.
Ron Williams was among the graduates. He said the shooting was definitely on his mind even as he took pride in his academic achievement.
“My father used to always tell me, ‘bad things always happen but bad things don’t dictate how life is,'" Williams said. "We’re going to turn this into a positive thing and remember those who lost their lives while also celebrating something we’ve worked very hard for.”
For four years, Williams has made the 20-mile commute from Southeast L.A. to the college. Now, he’s graduating and moving to San Diego state to get his bachelor’s degree.
“Santa Monica College has given so much to this community," Williams said. "It gives people the opportunity to go places they never thought they could go.”