SFCC Announces Cindy Nava to Keynote Class of 2017 Graduation

Santa Fe Community College Announces Nationally recognized rising political star Cindy Nava to Keynote Class of 2017 Graduation

SFCC Celebrates Student Success on Saturday, May 13 at 2 p.m.

Event will be at Pueblo Pavilion at Santa Fe Indian School, 1501 Cerrillos Road

SANTA FE, NM – Santa Fe Community College announces that nationally recognized rising political star Cindy Nava will address the 2017 graduating class at the college’s commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 13.

The Huffington Post blogger Josue Lopez Calderon cited Nava as one of the “40 Under 40: Latinos in American Politics” to watch. In October 2015 Nava became the first undocumented student to ever be awarded the Rising Star Award by the NM Democratic Party. She went on to be the first undocumented immigrant to serve as an intern for the Democratic National Committee Headquarters in Washington, D.C.  As a blogger for Huffington Post, Nava wrote about her persistence to obtain her DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) card in the April 2016 post, “After 15 Internships, I Can Finally Be Hired for Wages.” 

One of Nava’s primary passions is to motivate, encourage and inspire first-generation, low-income minority students through interactive presentations that empower them to obtain a college education by focusing on the many concepts of institutionalized barriers that marginalized communities carry through generations.  Last December her ABQ-TEDx talk,One Shero at a time: Creating the path for minority women to succeed,” addressed the concepts of cross-generational mentorship.

Nava said her enthusiasm and passion for leadership, politics and social causes began in 2009 when she became president of SFCC’s Student Government Association. “SFCC gave me the knowledge to find my passion, the empowerment to believe in myself, the resources to surpass challenges and the wings to fly higher.” She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of New Mexico and is a graduate student at UNM working toward a master’s degree in Educational Leadership & Policy, concentrating on Higher Education.

In addition to numerous state and national legislative internships, she served for almost three years as a graduate research fellow for ENLACE New Mexico, worked as a graduate research assistant for UNM’s Center for Education Policy research and serves on the board of directors of New Mexico Voices of Children. This past legislative session Nava became the first DACA recipient to ever be hired at the N.M. state legislature house of representatives as a majority pool analyst. In February, she spoke about DACA during an immigration town hall in Florida hosted by FOX News anchor Martha MacCallum.

Student Speakers

Suri Sadai (Garcia Valenzuela) Rincon, 23, who will receive an Associate in Arts in Human Services, will give the student speech.  She will continue her studies in social work at New Mexico Highlands University. “It’s a field I feel passionate about. I believe in people and that’s what motivates me to help them. 

Ricon came to the U.S. from Mexico as a child. She does volunteer work as a youth leader and social media correspondent for the church she attends for Spanish speakers. She also has assisted immigrants at Catholic Charities.

The Capital High graduate said she wants to “keep helping people and making a difference in this community. As a person who is bilingual, I can see that Spanish speakers feel comfortable talking with me.”

Also, speaking at commencement is Butheina Ghweir. The 18-year-old will graduate with a Certificate of Academic Transfer from SFCC one week before her graduation from the MASTERS Program on the SFCC campus and plans to attend the University of New Mexico in the fall.

“I want to start with studies in biology and psychology. My long-term dream is to study medicine and work as a pediatrician, perhaps in a refugee camp,” Ghweir said. “I’ve always loved science and enjoyed my classes at SFCC. I really enjoyed studying astronomy, creative writing and piano.” Through the MASTERS program she has volunteered at Piñon Elementary School and also helped in the SFCC greenhouse and culinary garden. 

The public is invited. No tickets are required; people are encouraged to arrive early because seating is available on a first come, first served basis. Santa Fe Community Television (SFCTV-16 on Comcast) will air

the graduation ceremonies Tuesday, May 16 at 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 17 at 10 a.m., Friday, May 19 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 22 at 1 p.m. DVDs will be available for free 30 days after graduation at the SFCC Bookstore.  People can watch a livestream at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8hKbkutxRA

Fast Facts on 2017 SFCC Graduates


  • This year there are 725 graduates. The total number of awards (degrees and certificates) is 874. Of those graduates, 119 will receive more than one degree. About 300 will participate in commencement. 
  • The youngest graduate in the Class of 2017 is 16 and the oldest is 76.
  • The number of military veterans who graduate from SFCC continues to grow. There are 35 veterans in the Class of 2017. In 2016 there were 25 military graduates more than double the number (12) from 2015.
  • This year marks the first year that students will receive an Associate in Arts in American Sign Language and an Associate of Applied Science in Architectural and Interior Design Technologies.
  • The following certificates will be awarded for the first time: Architectural and Interior Design Software, Architectural and Interior Design Technologies, Digital Cinematography, Engineering Technologies-Electronics Technology, Film: Post-production, General Engineering Technologies and Residential Energy Auditor/Inspector.
  • The college sees a rising trend in the number of graduates receiving an AAS in nursing. This year’s number of 89 is a 56 percent increase from the three-year average. 
  • The highest number of awards given are in these programs of study:
    • 89 for AAS in Nursing
    • 78 for Certificate of Nursing Assistant
    • 61 for AA in Business Administration
  • While 73 percent of the 2017 graduating class lives in Santa Fe, graduates come from many of the pueblos (including Santo Domingo, Jemez, Ohkay Owingeh and Cochiti), as well as cities as far-flung as Farmington, Las Cruces, Datil and Fort Sumner. Albuquerque residents make up just under 8 percent of the graduating class. This year there are graduates from Colorado, Michigan and Washington, D.C. 
  • Reflecting the diversity of the student body, it is of note that 52 percent of the graduates identify their ethnicity as Hispanic/Latino. Graduates who identify themselves as American Indian or Alaska Natives represent 7 percent of the graduates (an increase from last year’s 5 percent).
  • SFCC’s Dual Credit programs continue to grow with 19 partners in the region. Here are some highlights of high school students who will receive their academic awards through Dual Credit: 17 students from Santa Fe Indian School will receive a Certificate in Architecture and Interior Design Software, 15 SFIS students will receive a Certificate in Nursing Assistant, 8 Capital High students received a CNA (this past fall) and four students from Raton High School will receive Phlebotomy certificates. About one quarter of The MASTERS program school’s graduates will receive either a certificate or associate degree.

Santa Fe Community College celebrates its 40th Anniversary as the pathway to success for individuals and the community. SFCC provides affordable, high-quality programs that serve the academic, cultural, and economic needs of the community. The college welcomes over 10,000 students per year in credit, noncredit, workforce training, personal enrichment, and adult programs.
A “Best for Vets” and a “Military Friendly” school.

Visit sfcc.edu or call 505-428-1000.

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