Mara James and Ashley Lindsay both chose to attend Orange Coast College because of family; both had family members who had previously attended the College, and it seemed like the right move to follow in their footsteps.
"All of my family started their higher education journey at OCC, so I thought why not continue this legacy," says Lindsay.
Neither James nor Lindsday had any idea that they would also find a new best friend in the process.
"OCC exceeded all my expectations of what I thought I would experience," says James. "I’ve met someone of my closest friends (like Ashley Lindsay), mentors, and found a passion for learning and teaching here."
After arriving at OCC, both James and Lindsay declared Communications Studies as their majors, and both girls joined the school's championship-winning speech and debate team. It was through a shared love of debate and public speaking that the girls connected and made the decision to continue their studies as communications majors at California State University, Long Beach ... together.
When OCC Communications Studies professor Sean Connor encouraged both James and Lindsay to try out to be this year's commencement speaker, it seemed only natural to do it side by side. Although this year will be a little different with the ceremony being held in a virtual format, the girls have taken it in stride, and are looking forward to sharing what they've learned with their fellow grads.
"I want to share with my fellow graduates to take time to celebrate their accomplishments and hard work they put into their degree, and use the success they had at Orange Coast College to motivate them through the rest of their life," says James, who hopes to one day come back to OCC to teach.
Lindsay echoes that sentiment: "I want my fellow graduates to know that although these times are weird, we should still be proud of ourselves! And we have so much to look forward to."