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Commencement ceremony for grads on June 8

Photo of commencement speaker Farisa Morales.

Farisa Morales, a Mission College graduate and astrophysics researcher with the Spitzer Space Telescope project, will be the featured speaker on June 8 when Los Angeles Mission College awards diplomas to nearly 350 degree candidates.

Morales graduated magna cum laude from Mission College in 1999 with an Associate’s Degree in liberal arts, emphasis in math. She continued her studies at UCLA, where last year she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in astrophysics. She is currently enrolled in the Master’s program in physics at California State University, Northridge.

Morales balances her studies with a busy schedule as a researcher with the Spitzer Space Telescope project at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. The high-tech infrared eyes of this extraordinary telescope in space observe galaxies, infant stars and newly forming planetary systems that have escaped the view of other observatories. Morales has been a researcher on various space projects at JPL since 2000.

A mother of two young children and wife of a Sylmar businessman, Morales is proud of the fact that she has achieved all of her educational and professional goals as a working mom. A typical day finds Morales preparing her young son and daughter for school, driving to CSUN for classes, trekking to JPL for work and meetings, and returning home to attend to family. She also helps her husband run a small business.

"Mission College was the beginning of an exciting time in my life, academically and professionally," said Morales. "I look forward to encouraging the graduates to always keep moving ahead."

Morales will speak to a class that will include 348 degree candidates, 71 percent of them women. The ages of the graduates range from 17 to 71, with the greatest number – 61 percent – falling into the 21-30-year-old age bracket. Cindy Schauer, a child development major, is the class valedictorian. This year’s salutatorian is Iva Kremsa, who has earned her degree in interior design.

Commencement will begin at 5 p.m. on the campus Quad.

– BY EDUARDO PARDO / Photo: Adrian Gonzalez