For 53-year-old Kevin Oyarzo, this past week’s graduation ceremony at Montgomery College proved to him he could do something he had once struggled with.
Oyarzo of Dickerson was one of 2,925 students who received degrees or certificates of completion at the college’s 65 commencement ceremony on May 18. Staged on the school’s Rockville campus, it honored students from all three campuses: Germantown, Rockville and Takoma Park/Silver Spring. It also honored graduates of the Workforce Development and Continuing Education Programs, which offers noncredit professional development, work skills and enrichment programs.
“The ceremony really presses everything home. It really reinforces the achievement,” said Oyarzo, who received his Associate in Arts Degree.
Oyarzo started at Montgomery College in 1977 after graduating from Seneca Valley High School but failed most of his classes. He dropped out and went to work doing automobile repair.
“I was doing really well,” he said. “I had my own business, I told myself I didn’t need college.”
Still, he said it bothered him that he had failed. He thought he could do it.
So, in 2010, he returned to Montgomery College and started taking classes again.
“It was a challenge to me,” he said, “I took every class I failed and in each one of them i got an ‘A.’ Once I got that first ‘A,’ I just kept going.”
Oyarzo plans to continue college with online classes through Pennsylvania State University.
“Penn State has a great college of technology and they have a transportation management course that prepares me for fleet management,” he said. “I see jobs open and they want that college degree.”
Oyarzo encourages young and old alike to go to college, and said Montgomery College is a great place to start.
“Everybody at the school wanted me to succeed. The staff there is wonderful, thay are so patient and they listen,” he said.
Oyarzo is older than the average Montgomery College graduate — 28 years. The oldest graduate this year was 70, and there were 17 graduates older than 60. At the other end, a 17-year-old earned a certificate in American Sign Language.