11 Turning Point Students Graduate
October 30, 2023
Mara Plascencia wore a graduation cap, gown and sash, and stood proudly at the podium for her commencement speech. But she told the audience that had she continued down the path of her former life, she may not have made it there.
“I led a reckless lifestyle in the past,” she said. “I didn’t see myself living past the age of 19, but here I am.”
Plascencia and 10 other women at the California Institution for Women celebrated the completion of degree and certificate programs during an Oct. 28 Chaffey College commencement ceremony.
Chaffey College has served both the California Institution for Men and Women through the Turning Point program, which was established in 2004. Since then, more than 400 students have earned degrees and certificates. Of all the students who have taken courses through Turning Point, 94 percent passed their classes.
Turning Point students have continued with Chaffey College post release, at other community colleges, or have gone onto four-year universities, such as UC Berkeley and San Diego State University.
Plascencia is pursuing a bachelor’s degree with California State University Los Angeles.
Associate Warden Delinia Lewis congratulated the graduates for investing in themselves and putting themselves first.
“You have shown today that you can finish what you start,” she said. “That is step one in an amazing journey of your life.”
Chaffey College Superintendent/President Henry Shannon challenged graduates – who completed their programs in 2020-2023 – to “plant seeds” for future growth. He brought a packet of seeds to illustrate his point.
“We can’t change the past, but you can change what you do now,” he said.
Angel Navarro, who also served as a graduation speaker, said she previously battled drug addiction and mental health issues, but is now working on transferring to Cal State San Bernardino.
“It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself,” she said.
Brittany Ingrassi earned an associate’s degree in sociology and is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies at Cal State Los Angeles.
She challenged her fellow graduates to continue down their path of success.
“Continue rising above your circumstances and step out of your comfort zone,” she said.