By Nolan Patrick Smith
High Desert Daily
(High Desert) On Friday, March 22nd, graduates and their families, as well as staff and faculty from Four- D College came together to celebrate their hard work, their accomplishments, and their bright futures ahead of them. The Forty Third Commencement for the institution was held at the Ontario Convention Center Friday morning, with smiles and tears of joy from beginning to end.
Four-D College has been serving the Inland Empire since 1992, with campuses in Victorville and Colton. Their graduation ceremony, the first for 2013, boasted over 220 graduates, varying from the many programs in the medical field the school offers including programs for Vocational Nurses, Medical Assistants, Pharmacy Technicians, Massage Therapists, Dental Assistants and more. President and Founder of Four-D College Linda Smith spoke with High Desert Daily about Four-D and how it is that the school came in to existence. “I am a Registered Nurse, and I have been for 39 years or so. Four-D came about as a result of personal challenges in my life and I submitted a prayer to God asking that he first and foremost give me a foundation where I can pray and say “through God, all things are possible”, I asked that he allow me to make a difference in someone’s life, using my skills as a nurse. On July 31st, 1991, at 1:05 am, I was called by name, and I rose and had a conversation with the Lord and documented that conversation. The draft hangs in my office. As a result of that call, I resigned from the position I had at that time as a Director of Quality Assurance for twelve hospitals. I resigned and became absolutely pinpoint focused on the mission to open up a school. I immediately enrolled into Cal Poly University in Pomona to work on my degree to get my teaching credential. Within a year of me resigning my position, I met all the requirements of the state. I obtained my business license on April 24, 1992. In September of 1992, I started the first class for Four-D College with two students.”
“It’s been 19 years for me, 19 years of attending graduations here at Four-D,” said Margie Harris, Director of Career Development, moments before the commencement began. “Graduation and placement comes hand and hand. Right after graduation, they want to get a job, and that is how the success of Four-D College is measured, through placement. It has been very rewarding working for Four-D because I know we have touched the lives of many students and I look forward to many more.”
“I’m so excited! Excited and nervous at the same time,” said a very excited Victorville resident Tijhera Rogers, a graduate of the Dental Assistant program, as she waited for the ceremony to begin. Rogers has a special reason for going into the Dental Assisting field, “For me, my little sister, she was scared of the dentist, so I started asking questions, because I used to be scared of the dentist myself. So I thought, “wow, what if I could comfort somebody and make somebody feel comfortable, that would be awesome, so I did it, and I like it. Yes, there were a few barriers, you know how people are and try to knock you down, but I stepped right over and got to the top.”
“Today is starting a new chapter in my life with a new career and a great outlook,” said Dental Assistant graduate Melissa Orona of Victorville. Orona, who graduated with honors, has already taken the next step in her career path, as she is currently working in the dental field at an office in the High Desert.
For Tiffany Sanchez, a graduate of the Medical Assistant Program, today took on a very significant meaning, “today is really important to me. I didn’t walk with my high school graduating class, so this is the first time I get to walk and I get to show my kids that I get to do something positive.” Graduation marks the success Sanchez has reached, despite the various barriers life may throw, “it was hard, my husband was deployed while I was in school, so I kind of did it alone with my kids, but I got it figured out and I am proud of myself that I got here.”
Jessica Petrucelli of Apple Valley is a graduate of the Vocational Nursing program, and she recognizes the road it took to get to graduation. “It makes me feel proud that I accomplished this and that my family can be so proud of me and I’m starting my life and accomplishing such great things.” When asked about the journey to today, Petrucelli replied, “it was long, crazy, insane: you want to pull out your hair but it’s worth every minute of it.”
Marlene Gonzalez graduated from the Pharmacy Technician program at the Victorville campus, and is another student who has successfully transitioned from student to a member of today’s workforce. When asked about graduation, Gonzalez replied, “It’s really important, it’s the beginning to my career. It pushed me a lot to get here. This is just the beginning. It was worth it, now I have my job, I had a great instructor, my teacher taught me a lot, Mrs. Brandy, my classmates, couldn’t have done it without them, and family of course.”
Pharmacy Technician graduate Marbella Gonzalez of Hemet was visibly nervous before the ceremony, mainly because of what the day meant to her. “It’s a very special day, my family is here to see me, and the day is finally here. I’m very nervous. The journey has been great, Four-D has some great teachers, great helpers, and it’s a totally different experience than what I thought. I’m glad I picked this school.”
Dale Sloan, the Director of Massage Therapy at Four-D, took a moment to share his thoughts on what graduation day means. “Today is success. Today just means success. This is a wonderful day, a day they worked very hard to get to. As a Director, I am very proud, because many of our graduates here are already working in the field; they were hired off their externship. This is a really positive day for Massage Therapy and I couldn’t be more excited.”
“I am always excited at the graduation, because it lends me to appreciate the trials that we go through throughout the year as an institution, and the appreciation is that no matter what we have gone through, when we get to a graduation, I know it was worth it,” Mrs. Smith said in regards to the graduation. “Whatever the pain and suffering, the ups and downs we have had to go through, to see those students walk across the stage and shake my hand, makes it all worth it.”
For more information on Four-D College, feel free to call the Victorville campus at (760) 962-1325 or you can visit them online at http://www.4dcollege.edu/.