More than 3,700 students were invited to Austin Community College District’s fall 2023 commencement ceremony. Friends and family will join these grads as they prepare to walk the stage Thursday, December 7, at the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park.

Learn more about their ACC journeys and the support they received to complete their degrees.

Julian Cotto

Julian Cotto is this year’s Chancellor Student Achievement Award winner. Julian began at ACC in spring 2022 as a transfer-in student. He is earning his associate degree in Computer Programming. This spring, Julian plans to jump straight into earning his bachelor’s from ACC in Software Development.

About my time at ACC
Most of my time at ACC has been spent in a virtual setting. The professors far exceeded any expectations I had. Each professor offers quality instruction in very unique and creative ways that make learning in an online setting more engaging. When it comes to availability, some professors are instant responders, others respond promptly, and none leave you for an unreasonable amount of time without a response. 

Every semester, I committed to one in-campus class per semester. I have been to Hays, Round Rock, Northridge, Cypress Creek, and Highland campuses. All of the campuses are immaculate. They are all easy to navigate, clean, and comfortable learning environments.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience at ACC. I have been learning a trade that is truly engaging to me and have been learning it from professionals who are also truly engaged by it. 

Faculty I want to recognize
Professor Arturo Gonzalez’s instruction style ultimately led to me getting a programming job at Spectrum. He taught from Chapter 5 on day one and taught us industry standard coding practices. I was so impressed by the instruction that I took him for Programming Fundamentals II and the instruction was amazing again. 

I couldn’t take Professor Gonzalez’s class for Programming Fundamentals III because he doesn’t teach it. So, I ended up taking the class with Professor Alexander Katrompas. It was clear from day one that he was an expert in the software development field. What’s more impressive is his ability to destructure huge abstract ideas and present them in a palatable fashion for the class. Programming Fundamentals III is one of the most mentally straining classes I have ever taken, and yet it was okay because Professor Katrompas could teach a dog to program with his level of expertise. 

Learn more about Julian HERE.

Tsega Ande

Tsega Ande started at ACC in 2017 and is completing her associate degree in professional nursing at 45 years of age. She came to ACC through support from the college’s partnership with Capital IDEA, which provides personalized assistance and support to eligible students. 

About my time at ACC
I am a mother of three children. I came to the U.S. in September 2015. When I started at ACC, I only took one class per semester. I had to work full time to provide for my two kids, who I left with my mother due to the visa process.

In 2020, I got accepted to ACC for the nursing program, and Capital IDEA also accepted me to cover all my school payments. During my first semester in the program, my kids’ visas were approved. After many ups and downs, I brought them here and continued my classes. During the trip, I was constantly in contact with the head of the nursing program, Sheila, and my navigator, Tonia. They both were very positive and encouraged me to take my time and be safe, and I would have my spot in the program when I returned. 

I wouldn’t be here, graduating, without Capital IDEA and ACC’s flexibility. Thank you, and God bless you all.

Faculty I want to recognize 
Mr. Frank, Professor Frank, helped me a lot when I started school and took English Composition I (Tutorial). He is so patient and always in a good mood.

Learn more about Tsega HERE.

Mark Jespersen

Meet Mark Jespersen, a Marketing major who began as a dual credit student at Lake Travis High School. 

How attending ACC set me up to reach my goals
I’ve always wanted a bachelor’s degree, and the field I’m interested in generally requires one, even for an entry-level job. It was difficult to justify that big price tag. So, I put it off for a long time. ACC allowed me to make real progress towards that, on my schedule and without breaking the bank.

My favorite part of attending ACC
The faculty and staff are so supportive, helpful, and insightful. I’ve enjoyed getting to know all sorts of staff members as they’ve helped me along my journey, and I think they’re part of what makes ACC so special.

Staff I want to recognize 
The entire Office of College Relations & Marketing staff, whom I’ve worked alongside for the past year, showed me what it’s like to work in a professional marketing environment. Also, shout out to Roy Casagranda — I don’t think he’d remember me, but his Texas History course was the best class I’ve ever taken.

Learn more about Mark HERE.

Lauren Cawley Perez

Lauren Cawley Perez is the president of ACC’s Phi Theta Kappa Chapter, Alpha Gamma Pi. She is a nontraditional college student and a mom of two young children who will be walking the stage for the first time at the age of 28. She will be earning her degree in Studio Art. 

About my time at ACC
I began at ACC in fall 2020. My time at ACC has exceeded any expectations I came here with. I explored my education in a positive environment and found that I am a smart person capable of exceptional work. I expanded my art through the art department, even being featured in ACC’s 47th Annual Student Art Exhibit. After my induction into the local Alpha Gamma Pi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (the Honor Society for two-year colleges at ACC), I earned academic recognition.  

My favorite part of ACC
My favorite parts at ACC were the in-person fellowship events that ACC Student Life and Alpha Gamma Pi put together. Getting to connect with other students on campus helped me make friends.

Faculty I want to recognize 
I want to thank my advisor, Professor Mary Kohls, whom I’ve known since I was inducted into the local chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. I would also like to thank my ceramic professor, Professor Karen Bolton. 

Learn more about Lauren HERE.

Michael Deitrich

Meet Michael Deitrich, a career changer who will graduate this semester. Michael was a welder who felt apprehensive about continuing his education. After committing to changing his future, he got started at ACC. This fall, he will earn two degrees: General Studies in Pre-Health Science and General Studies in Science. 

About my time at ACC
My time at ACC was everything I needed to rekindle my academic passions. I learned to be more consistent with my studies, finding a routine that prioritizes hard work as well as balance. 

I also grew as a person by continually pursuing harder challenges, allowing me to build on increasing confidence. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with my experience and am genuinely excited to go into the next stages of my academic and professional career. 

My favorite part of ACC
My favorite part of ACC was getting to meet so many amazing people. My professors supported me, as well as my classmates, some of whom I have developed great friendships. 

Learn more about Michael HERE.

Iyana Mitchell

Iyana Mitchell came to ACC through support from the college’s partner Capital IDEA. Iyana began at ACC in 2017, and after a series of road bumps and the loss of her brother, she persisted in completing her degree in Nursing.

About Iyana
I’ve been at ACC for seven years. Honestly, it shouldn’t have taken me so long to get my degree, but due to starting college right after high school, I wanted to play hard instead of work hard.

There were times I wanted to give up, especially when I failed my first semester of nursing school. But I prevailed and got encouragement from my advisor, Tonia, and my parents. They encouraged me to keep going. So, I did!

I worked harder to never put myself in a position to fail again. Earlier this year, my younger brother, at the age of 21, passed away in an unexpected motorcycle accident during my third semester of nursing school. That was the hardest thing I had to go through. I still had to pass but, at the same time, had to grieve. I felt I didn’t have the proper time to grieve because I still wanted so badly to pass. I kept my focus on school and pushed aside grief, which is super hard to do. With the support I received, I was able to keep going.

I would like to recognize my advisor, Tonia! She helped me every step of the way and gave me the support needed to keep going. I’m very appreciative of her and how she never gave up on me and saw my potential.

Learn more about Iyana HERE.

Aaron Hernandez

Aaron Hernandez began his journey at ACC in 2018, earning a certificate in HVAC before returning to school in 2022 to earn his associate degree in Marketing. 

How attending ACC set me up to reach my goals
As a first-generation student, my goal was to finish school and graduate with a degree. I wanted to get into a line of work that would help provide a better future for my family. At ACC, I got to explore and experience different majors, which made it easy for me to figure out my full potential. 

About my time at ACC
ACC made it easy to register for classes. The office and counselors made it easy for me when I had no guidance on getting into college coming straight out of high school. I started ACC to get into the HVAC line of work. Right after I became a service technician, I wanted to go back to get a degree in a whole different major, which was marketing. 

Staff I want to recognize 
I want to recognize everyone at ACC’s Office of College Relations & Marketing. One of the major things I know that will help me in my future career will be the internship program I’m currently part of. I enjoyed working with and learning from such amazing, creative people on the ACC Marketing team. I would also like to recognize Liliana Tabasco, the associate director of College Relations & Communications. She became a great leader to me and my internship with ACC. She knew exactly the struggles of being a first-generation Hispanic student. I am thankful for all I have learned from her and everyone else. 

Learn more about Aaron HERE.