Art Institute Confers First Degrees
Founding Art Institute of California – Inland Empire President Byron Chung and current President Emam El-Hout were as proud as the graduates on Friday, March 27 when the campus’s first students received Bachelor’s and Associate degrees. Photo by Robert Swapp.
The first graduating class of The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire received degrees on Friday, March 27. Photo by Robert Swapp.
Students are: Associate degree in Culinary Arts recipients Ronnell Lawson and Roberto Pulido-Vasquez: Associate degree in Graphic Design students Regina Cortez, Elizabeth Horn, Christopher Kujawa, Nicole Lee, Richard Macias, Marcia McClellan, Alyssa Mees, David Monge, Jhanelle Ocampo, Salvador Vasquez Jr.; Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design students Raysa Cerna, Michelle Cossota, Anthony Guevara and Rachel Makowski; Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design students Cesar Bahena, Bob Chen, Alysha Cintas, Marissa Loudon, Tracy O’Bannon and Paige Petersen and Bachelor’s degree in Web Design & Interactive Media students David Dresner, Mary Nina Gonzales and Raymond Heredia.
(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) Graduation is always a milestone for students.
A graduation ceremony held Friday, March 27 was also a milestone for the school sponsoring it, The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire. It was the school’s first graduation ceremony.
“This is a big night for our graduates and their families and friends,” said founding Art Institute of California – Inland Empire President Byron Chung. “But it is something I have dreamed about for four years.”
That’s longer than any of the new graduates were enrolled in the school, as it didn’t open until January 2006. Although some of the bachelor’s degree recipients got head starts by attending other schools in California within The Art Institutes system of schools, many of the students finished early by taking advantage of the school’s year-round programs.
Chung, who is now president of The Art Institute of California – San Francisco, was given the job in 2005 of starting the Inland Empire campus. His work that year included hiring the rest of the executive team and the first term’s instructors as well as finding a building in San Bernardino the college could call home.
When The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire opened its doors to students in January of 2006 there were only 40 students. The college has since grown to about 1,200 – minus the 26 who received degrees in the recent ceremony.
One of those graduates, Alyssa Mees, actually completed her Associate of Science degree in Graphic Design and left The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire in March 2008. Mees got hired at FiveTen, a Redlands manufacturer of rock-climbing apparel and sports shoes. As part of the company’s art department, she is designing packaging, t-shirt illustrations, logos and advertising layouts.
Over the ensuing year, more students completed their degree requirements. In December 2008, some of the first students completed their bachelor’s degree requirements and more did so in March.
As these students completed their degrees, The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire’s executive team determined the number of graduates would be more than two dozen in March 2009.
It has also determined that subsequent terms, starting in June, will have substantially larger numbers of graduates. Therefore, the team determined it should honor its small, but formidable, first graduating class at the end of the Winter 2009 term, which was March 27.
“They have worked hard at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire for three years,” said Emam El-Hout, the current president. “Today is very special for them, and for us.”
El-Hout determined that because Byron Chung had done so much to help these graduates during their enrollment and first two years of study, Chung was the perfect choice to address them as the graduation’s keynote speaker. Many people at the graduation agreed, as he received a standing ovation.
“Wow!” Chung said. “It’s good to be home.”
He recalled some earlier times at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire such as an animated haunted house the first-year students sponsored at Halloween 2006 that took up most of the small original campus; ordering pizza from Costco for the entire school (the school still has pizza parties, but they’re now created by the Culinary Arts Department); and celebrating with students as they won awards for their work.
“Statistics say that about one half of all college freshmen who start with the greatest intentions never finish,” Chung said to the graduates. “But you have what it takes. You have worked hard while others played, and you have stayed focused while others rested. Others gave up half-way up the mountain. But as a result of your hard work, you have reached the top. I now celebrate with you as the first graduates of The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire.”
Marissa Louden, a Bachelor of Science degree recipient in Interior Design, was named the class valedictorian. She also addressed her fellow graduates and encouraged them to take this moment and move forward with what it meant.
“We have had success, not just in our individual programs of study, but also in learning to be focused and organized in life,” she said. “What does that mean for us? No doubt, a better life.”
The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Game Art & Design, Graphic Design, Web Design & Interactive Media, Interior Design, Fashion & Retail Management, and Media Arts & Animation. It offers an Associate of Science degree in Graphic Design, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design.
The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers an Associate of Science degree in Culinary Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary Management.
Each program is offered on a year-round basis, allowing students to work uninterrupted toward their degrees.
It’s not too late to start a new term at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire. Courses begin May 14 and classes are offered in the day, evening and on weekends for new and reentry students.
For more information, or to arrange a tour, call Richard Green at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire at (909) 915-2100 or go on line to www.artinstitutes.edu/InlandEmpire.
The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire is one of the Art Institutes (www.artinstitutes.edu/InlandEmpire), a system of more than 40 locations throughout North America, providing an important source
of design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals.
The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire is one of The Art Institutes (www.artinstitutes.edu), with more than 40 educational institutions located throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals.
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