close to 1,500 students at its 50th annual commencement ceremonies Wednesday night on campus—a cause for elation and pride.
For Timothy Snowball of La Mesa, the event will have special meaning.
Snowball, one of the featured student speakers, is graduating with honors, boasting associate degrees in political science and university studies.
And he did this despite not graduating from high school— in Santee. He dropped out because of depression and other mental ills.
“At that time in my life, it was a challenge just to get out of bed in the morning let alone focus on homework,” said in his letter to UC Berkeley, where he will continue his studies.
“I was raised by a single mother with a full-time job, and there was only so much Mom could do to help me. With a deficiency of units, and regret in my heart, I ultimately gave up on high school. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. ‘Not everyone is meant to be a student,’ I reasoned to myself.”
A native of La Mirada, Snowball family had relocated to Santee where he attended and West Hills. But frequent episodes with depression left him with a deficiency of units, so he left high school during his senior year and started working in restaurants.
He held onto his childhood love of history and passion for the political process, however. He says he memorized sections of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, and enjoyed reading history books.
At 25, with encouragement from family and friends, he applied to Grossmont College and enrolled in an American politics class.
“Before Grossmont, I did not even know that political science was a college major,” he said. “I decided that if I was going to be a student, I was going to be the best one possible. I quickly discovered that not only was I capable of being a student, I was actually good at it. My entire perception of school was changed forever.”
In his three years at Grossmont, Timothy has maintained a high grade-point average, which has earned him a place on both the President’s and Vice President’s Lists.
In spring 2009, he was inducted into Grossmont’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honors society that recognizes and encourages academic achievement of two-year college students. To be eligible for PTK membership a student must complete a minimum of 12 hours of associate degree course work and generally earn a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
“A new truth was born in me—a truth that I carry with me to this day and beyond: I can achieve anything I set my mind on,” Snowball says of his 2009 honor. “I look forward to the many challenges and achievements that lay in my future. In life, I am bound only by the limits that I set for myself.
Snowball has been accepted to UCSD, UCLA and UC Berkeley, and Tuesday said he would attend Berkeley, where he plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science. Eventually, he says, he plans to acquire a law degree and start a practice in San Diego County.
Grossmont College’s commencement starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Main Quad—with 1,057 students getting an associate degree, and 428 students receiving a Certificate of Achievement.