There were 100 graduates from Teachers College of San Joaquin (TCSJ) who completed programs offering master’s degrees or teaching credentials and were honored at a June 5 graduation ceremony at the Bob Hope Theatre in Stockton.
They were joined by keynote speaker Coach Jim White, the inspirational coach who was the subject of the movie McFarland USA. The movie starred Kevin Costner, who portrayed Coach White. The movie told the story of the against-all-odds triumphs achieved by the cross-country team White coached at a high school in Kern County.
His story inspired moviegoers, and White inspired many of those who heard him speak at the graduation ceremony.
He told stories from his 40 years in education and gave advice to the graduates. He told them they could make the choice to make a difference in the lives of their students. “That’s the important thing in life. Make a difference,” he said. “So make a difference. Make up your mind what you want to do. You can. You will, if it’s important to you.”
TCSJ President Dr. Diane Carnahan addressed the graduates after White. She noted that White covered the “Four Rs” that are so important to education: rigor, relevance, reflection, and relationships. “The relationships that you have with your students, your parents, the staff at your school, your communities – they matter,” she said. “And by building those relationships your jobs will be easier. Remember everybody wants to know they matter, as well. So build those relationships.”
White wasn’t born in Stockton, but it is where he grew up. He was a classmate of TCSJ Board of Trustees Vice Chairperson, Anthony Gutierrez, who said he knew White would be a great speaker for the ceremony because of the coach’s experience with disadvantaged students. “He gives them spirit, faith, hope, and belief in themselves,” Gutierrez said. “I wanted to bring him back to Stockton.”
More than 900 tickets were requested for the ceremony. The graduation began with an introduction from San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools James Mousalimas. Gutierrez and TCSJ Chairperson Gary Dei Rossi also spoke, as did four students who received their master’s degrees.
Graduates received different diplomas or credentials, depending on the programs they completed. Not all of the 241 students who completed programs this past year took part in the ceremony on Sunday. The college offers credential programs for teachers and administrators as well as programs to obtain master’s and doctoral degrees in education.
TCSJ is part of the San Joaquin County Office of Education’s Educational Services Division.
To see photographs from the graduation ceremony, visit the TCSJ Facebook page.