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Thousands of students graduate from PCC, including 18 international students

Posted at 6:15 AM, May 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-18 01:20:09-04

More than 35,000 students at Pima Community College can now call themselves graduates.

If you ask Lauraly Alter, she will tell you she never imagined getting a degree in social services, especially at 48 years old. "I was raising my daughter and now decided now that she's of age that I can go back to school and take care of herself," she said.

She says she owes her daughter and rest of her family for the motivation to go back to college. She studied for nearly nine years, longer than expected, but she says the wait was worthwhile. For now, her academic journey might be over, but her professional one is just beginning, she said. "It doesn't matter who you are and what age you are or your background, just do what you want to do," she added. 

Among the graduates, there will be 18 international students from countries all around the world. 

One of them was chosen to be this year's commencement speaker. Jean Mfuranzima is a refugee from Burundi. 

Mfruranzima fled Burundi five years ago and secured political asylum in the United States. When he was applying for the role of commencement speaker he told the panel about his history and his desire to carry on. 

"One lesson that Tucson has taught me is that in the middle of chaos, trials, and death, life has a way of working itself out through education." 

Mfruranzima says he is passionate about education, leadership and serving his community. He says his mission is to inspire his generation to compete for their legacy.