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Santa Monica College graduation ceremony begins with tribute to victims of shooting rampage (photos)

Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Sara Farzinmehr, who is graduating in accounting and business administration, holds her duaghter before graduation at Santa Monica College.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Gabriel Torres prays for his mother Margarita Gomez, who was killed by John Zawahri, outside of the Santa Monica College library on June 11th, 2013.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Students look for their friends and family at the Santa Monica College graduation.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Students take photos before the Santa Monica College graduation on June 11th, 2013.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Samantha Friend graduated from Santa Monica College with a degree in Liberal Arts and Humanites.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Notes line the trees outside the library at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Students at Santa Monica college walk towards their graduation on June 11th, 2013.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
A student looks for her friends before the Santa Monica College graduation on June 11th, 2013.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Students take photos at the Santa Monica College graduation on June 11th, 2013.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Parents and friends watch the graduation ceremonies at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
Mae Ryan/KPCC
Students gather before graduation at Santa Monica College on June 11th, 2013.
A student waves to her friend at the Santa Monica College graduation on June 11th, 2013.
Mae Ryan/KPCC


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Santa Monica College held its graduation ceremony Tuesday night,  just four days after a bloody shooting spree ended at the school’s library

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.”

And that, he said, no tragedy can change.