Skip to content

Meet Our 2024 Graduation Speakers

Last updated on May 8, 2024

Graduation is always the highlight of the year for any educational institution. It’s a defining moment for students as they embark on their next chapter.

The stars of the show are the student speakers. Dallas College consistently presents students with inspiring stories, and the 2024 ceremonies will be no different. This year’s speakers include:  

Cameron Robinson

Cameron is a dual-credit student who has overcome a number of his family’s generational barriers. Some in his family end up in jail, not the graduation stage, Cameron said. So, that is why he’s grateful to have met mentors such as Cedar Valley President Joe Seabrooks and professor Marcene Royster, who have guided him along the way. 

Asked what graduation means to him, Robinson said: “To me, it means a lot. In our family, we have barriers. We have curses, generational curses, family that just goes to jail rather than getting through high school. For me to be in high school, to be in dual enrollment, and to graduate college and high school … I broke the barrier.”

Robinson plans to attend ‘the’ Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and major in criminal justice. 

“My goal is to work for the FBI,” he said. “But, currently I’ve been seeing that I kind of like work in crime scenes, so I might go into CSI.” 

Arianna Villarreal

Arianna had a nomadic childhood, living in seven cities across five countries. But, after making the difficult decision to stay in the Dallas area as a 15-year-old instead of moving with her family again, Arianna has found a home at Dallas College. She is an example of the support system throughout the community and college. 

“It’s honestly a celebration of what we can do together as a community,” she said. “Just all the families that have helped along the way, whether it was hosting me whenever I was in high school or helping pay for my education. It’s been a collective effort. 

“It’s really a moment to celebrate what we can do when we come together.” 

Essentially, that is what Arianna hopes to convey during her speech — the power of unity. 

“We can do anything that we set our minds to, but we have to be willing to ask for help,” she said. “I want other people to know that it’s OK if you have to ask for help. It’s not something bad, it’s something that will take you to the next level.” 

Jon Strickley

Jon is part of the second graduating class of students who earned a bachelor’s degree in education through Dallas College. He is excited about starting his full-time teaching career and described what it’s like to be able to put “bachelor’s graduate” on his resume. 

“It feels awesome to be able to put B.A.S. on my resume and describe myself as a graduate of Dallas College,” he said. “For my family, it’s inspiring. I can tell my daughter, give her my testimony as far as what I did and the steps I took to get where I am today, and help her succeed in life.” 

As far as becoming a teacher, he said: “Teaching is a rewarding profession just because I have a heart to influence the next generation. In high school, I used to be an aide for middle school students. That was really what sparked the passion in me to inspire that next generation and helping them grow up. I’m really blessed to be in this field and I hope to make it a lifelong career.”

Carmesia Washington

Like Jon, Carmesia is also part of the second graduating class to earn a bachelor’s degree in education. She already has a job lined up to teach the second grade. 

“I have second grade and I love it. I wake up every day ready to go see my second graders,” she said. 

As far as the program itself, Carmesia couldn’t have been more pleased. 

“The program is very accommodating,” she said. “I was able to continue my full-time job being a resident teacher. They have a program where you could be adaptive, where you can keep your current job, but you still have that time in classrooms to be able to be successful in the program.” 

Nomvuyo Makhathini

Nomvuyo grew up in South Africa in a single-parent household, and knows the emotions during her speech will be felt in her hometown. She recalled taking a trip to Washington, D.C. with fellow Dallas College classmates, and how her grandmother framed a picture of the trip. 

“I know she’s going to do the same thing with graduation pictures,” Nomvuyo said. “They’re very proud and probably will cry a lot.” 

For Nomvuyo, it’s more of a beginning to what’s next than an end. She credits Dallas College for helping her dream big such as going to an Ivy League school such as Yale, and reaching her full potential.

“As an international student, especially as a lot of international students who come from countries that don’t have community colleges, community college sets you up for success,” she said. “I came in like, ‘I’m going to get my associate and be done.’ Now, I’m even pursuing going to Yale. I never dreamed of that. 

“Dallas College made me realize all of those dreams, like you can be whatever you want to be.”

Carlos Cortez

Carlos Cortez is a first generation college student and the son of immigrants. Community college has been the stepping stone to achieving his dreams and aspirations. He aspires to be the first in his family to obtain a doctorate in mechanical engineering.

Carlos is naturally drawn to leadership. He served as vice president of fellowship in Phi Theta Kappa and was recognized in the Texas Region Hall of Honor for Outstanding Officers. He is also active in the Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics National Honor Society and has presented at the Texas Association of Chicanos In Higher Education (TACHE) and Texas TRIO Region conferences.

He plans to transfer to a four-year school after graduation to continue his educational journey.

Published inCampus LifeCreditStudent Success StoryWhy Dallas College?