Students studying at fountain.

@de anza Home

News Releases

De Anza College News Release

June 19, 2009

Marisa Spatafore

1,800 Students Earn Degrees, Certificates in 2009

CUPERTINO--De Anza College's 42nd annual commencement will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 27, at the college's Outdoor Events Arena. Author and lecturer Tamim Ansary will serve as keynote speaker.

"We are honored that this wise and prominent writer will address our graduates, their families and our colleagues," said college President Brian Murphy. "As a citizen of the world, Mr. Ansary will provide a unique perspective to our students, themselves entering our increasingly complex global society."

Tamim AnsaryTamim Ansary grew up in Kabul, where his father taught science and literature at Kabul University and his American mother taught English at the first girls' school in Afghanistan. In 1964, Ansary moved to the United States when he received a scholarship to attend high school at Colorado Rocky Mountain School. He graduated with honors in 1970 from Reed College in Portland and began his writing career working for The Portland Scribe.

Ansary is the author of "West of Kabul, East of New York," a memoir about a bicultural life straddling Afghanistan and America, and "Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes." He has also written 38 nonfiction works for children, contributed to major textbook programs, and edited and published "Snapshots: This Afghan American Life," an anthology of work by 15 young Afghan-Americans whom he mentored. His own short fiction has appeared in Gettysburg Review, Rosebud, Zyzzyva, Prism International and others. Ansary directs the San Francisco Writers Workshop and teaches sporadically through the Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning in San Francisco and Berkeley.

He has appeared on the Bill Moyers Show, the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, the Oprah Winfrey Show, Hardball and numerous National Public Radio programs.

More than 1,800 students this year will graduate from De Anza College with degrees and certificates. Major scholarship winners include Alejandro Jimenez, Jake Parent, Kenia Vega, Yessenia Ramirez and Alicia Kosman.

Alejandro JimenezAlejandro Jimenez of San José is the recipient of this year's DeHart Memorial Scholarship. He graduates this spring with a 3.67 GPA. Jimenez, a native of Mexico City, will transfer to UC Berkeley with a double major in English and anthropology. Jimenez wants to become a writer and print journalist.

While attending De Anza, Jimenez was on the staff of La Voz, the student newspaper, and was also an active volunteer with Generation Engage. The nonpartisan not-for-profit organization empowers young adults with the access and resources they need to become active citizens and engaged participants in their communities. Jimenez also volunteered four hours a week in the emergency department of the Stanford University Medical Center and has been working to establish a campus club for AB540 students.

The annual scholarship is presented in memory of A. Robert DeHart, founding president of De Anza College. It is awarded to a graduate who exemplifies service and participates in campus life relating to his or her personal values and goals.

Jake ParentJake Parent of San José maintained a 4.0 GPA in his political science major and plans to transfer to UC Santa Cruz in the fall where he will major in politics and community studies. In working hard to overcome personal obstacles in his life, Parent says his journey has given him a new set of values centered on the idea of how true happiness and pleasure in life come from how much he does for others.

Parent and four other people raised funds and resources to open an orphanage, clinic and school facility called the Amin Institute in Kabul. One of his goals is to grow the Amin Institute into a permanent and powerful participant in the protection of children affected by war.

Kenia VegaKenia Vega, also of San José and a liberal arts major, will graduate with a 3.29 GPA and transfer to San José State University or Santa Clara University with a major in communications. A single mother, Vega is the first in her family to graduate from college and transfer to a four-year institution. One of her goals is to establish a charitable foundation to enable and encourage single parents to get an education.

Vega served as vice president of the Latina/o Empowerment at De Anza (¡LEAD!) student leadership program and as a mentor in the Puente Program. She is one of the co-founding members of the first AB540 scholarship at De Anza. Vega also volunteers at Boys & Girls Club as a tutor and translator.

Parent and Vega will both be honored with a President's Award, which is presented annually to graduating students who have overcome significant adversity or obstacles and have shown great perseverance in seeking an education at De Anza.

Yessinia RamirezBiology major Yessenia Ramirez of Sunnyvale was awarded a $20,000 Karl S. Pister scholarship to UC Santa Cruz for fall 2009. Ramirez was one of the student co-founders of the ¡LEAD! Latina/o student leadership program and also served as a De Anza Student Body (DASB) senator and vice president. Ramirez worked in the Writing and Reading Center as a student assistant. She also volunteered with the college's Cross Cultural Partners program and the local Veterans Administration hospital.


Alicia KosmanNursing student and Santa Cruz resident Alicia Kosman received a $5,000 Kaider Scholarship President's Award from De Anza College President Brian Murphy. Kosman graduated from De Anza's Nursing Program in winter 2009. The scholarship was made possible by the Steve and Lola Kaider Foundation to help students reach their goal of an associate's degree.



De Anza College has served the students of Silicon Valley for 40 years. De Anza consistently ranks at or near the top in transferring students to four-year universities. The college provides an average of 25,000 students each quarter with outstanding general education and vocational courses as well as interdisciplinary studies, community service opportunities, on-the-job-training, internships and online and televised classes. Read more about the college at

# # #