Graduating Salzburg Student Fellow Conferred with Trustee Award

West Valley College Commencement 2018

(Photo by Nick Gonzales)

Mikela Lazari is a stellar graduating student who has earned an Associate in Arts for Transfer degree (AA-T) with a major in Political Science and an Area of Emphasis in Cultural and Global Studies. Mikela was honored on 24 May 2018 during West Valley College’s 53rd Commencement and Transfer Ceremony at the City National Civic Theater in San José. She proudly wore her Gold Cord for Robe and Gold Tassel on Cap signifying that she is an Honor Graduate with a 3.9 GPA. She also wore medals awarded to her for serving as Student Trustee and as President of the Associated Student Government (ASG) of West Valley College, a Transfer stole and a Global Citizenship stole.

Mikela was accepted at all of the University of California campuses to which she applied, including UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, as well as University of Southern California, Loyola Marymount University, New York University, and American University in Washington, DC. She has chosen to complete her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley where she will major in Global Studies and minor in Political Economy. Ultimately, Mikela wants to work in international law and foreign affairs.

Mikela Lazari

Mikela Lazari with Dr. Sean Pepin (left), the Director of Student Development, and Dr. Victoria Hindes (right), the Vice President of Student Services (Photo by NickGonzales)

In 2017 Mikela Lazari was awarded the WVC Global Citizenship Study Abroad Program Scholarship to attend Global Citizenship Alliance’s Global Citizenship Seminar for Students in Salzburg, Austria during summer 2017. She says of this experience:

The atmosphere at the GC Alliance’s GC Seminar for Students was enhanced by the diversity of the attendees, experience of the lecturers, and the breathtaking surroundings… The trip taught me so much more than I was anticipating. The seminar itself gave me a much needed realization and connection to geographically distant crises, and working with people of different backgrounds allowed me to improve my communication and collaboration skills. But most importantly, I gained a group of friends with whom I shared an incredible experience.

Mikela aims to one day return to the GCA as an Intern where she hopes to share her knowledge of Global Citizenship issues and to enrich her training as a Global Citizen. After participating in the seminar, Mikela was invigorated and determined to apply at WVC what she learned in Salzburg. She focused on making sure that her service made an impact–and indeed she did!

During the 2017-2018 academic year, Mikela assumed various leadership roles:

  • She served as President and Student Trustee of the Associated Student Government (ASG) of West Valley College
  • She served as a member of the WVC Global Citizenship Committee
  • She served as the President’s Intern in the WVC Office of the President
  • She served as a Student Trustee with the Board of Trustees for the West Valley-Mission Community College District (WV-MCCD)
  • She organized the WVC Disability and Educational Support Program (DESP) Community Service Program
  • She served as Co-Founder of the Democrats of West Valley College Chapter
  • She founded and served as President of the WVC Persian Student Association
  • She served as a Legal Intern in the Know Your Rights Intern Program for the PARS Equality Center, a community-based social and legal services organization in San José

Mikela Lazari delivering remarks after being conferred the Trustee Award.

At graduation, Mikela Lazari received the 2018 Trustee Award granted by the West Valley-Mission Community College District (WV-MCCD). Mikela delivered this speech:

We, The Class of 2018, are a collection of individuals who have mastered the nearly impossible balance between rigorous coursework, home life, work life and extracurriculars. I am truly humbled to be the recipient of the Trustee Award. Throughout the last year, I have had the pleasure to serve as the President and Student Trustee of the Associated Students of West Valley College, and I am proud to have represented such a diverse community.  

The college journey can often be filled with hardships and doubt; however, West Valley College has never left us without guidance and support. For some of us, like myself, we entered college with a level of uncertainty about who we will become and who we will be after college. 

I want to thank West Valley College for not just giving me a second chance but for giving me a better chance. The moment I stepped onto West Valley’s beautiful campus I knew that I was at home. I saw so many smiles around me, that it became infectious and I too started to smile. In my time as a Viking, I have been given an array of opportunities unlike those offered at many four year–let alone other two year–institutions.

I learned from our amazing faculty what it truly means to be prepared for my intended field of international law and how to become a well-rounded student. The staff that worked around the clock helped me from my first steps onto campus to these last few here, ensuring my road to success was one of ease and clear direction. One of the best opportunities I had,  was to Study Abroad. I went to new places I never imagined going. I had conversations about topics like world crises, international devastations, and disparities. 

These were the very conversations that I needed to have to help me move towards becoming a Global Citizen. 

Through it all, we have been able to seek guidance and support from another amazing group of people on campus. Our hardworking counselors showed us the road to our own success. I am thankful to have had this incredible village to get me through. And I think that is the most powerful thing.

 As students, we have been gifted a community, a village of its own where an infinite amount of resources and support are offered to best insure our success. That is exactly what we got Vikings: we are a village. We have a community which will continue its help and influence for years to come, so wear your graduation caps and gowns with pride–because being a Viking is to be driven, resilient, and ready. 

So take on our shared world and help create your own community. Further your reach and make your mark on this world. Your voice is powerful, use it. Your heart is loving, share it. Your mind is brilliant, expand it.

Look around and see the village that raised you and will continue to support you. Our friends, family, and loved ones are all here today to celebrate our achievement and next step towards success. 

Above all, I want to thank my own mom and dad for the countless sacrifices and limitless love. Congratulations and Good Luck Class of 2018! 

We did it!


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