As elected trustees, we spend much of our time focused on sound policy-making and ensuring that fiscally responsible practices continue at our three colleges. During this time of statewide fiscal uncertainty, this has been a daunting challenge. But despite these challenges, our colleges have continued to provide educational opportunities to the members of our community, and at this time of year, we are fortunate to be a part of the fruits of those labors — graduation.

For our students, graduation marks the end of their studies at Coastline, Golden West and Orange Coast College. It also marks the beginning of their university studies or the start of their career. For us, it is a time to reflect upon our contributions to their accomplishments. This year, I was proud to be a part of three traditional graduation ceremonies and ceremonies that recognized the completion of career programs such as nursing and programs at the Criminal Justice Training Center. All of these ceremonies happened here, in our community at our community colleges.

In fact, since 2006, our three colleges have awarded over 23,000 degrees and over 5,900 certificates to students. We have done this despite crippling budget cuts and the state's disinvestment in higher education. We have done this because of the dedication of our board, faculty, staff and administrators to our students. I am proud to know that over 30,000 community members have gotten a new start from the education that we provide. Whether they are continuing their studies or have entered the workforce, at Coast Colleges we are proud of their accomplishments.

Our successful graduates are our report card, and while we will continue to always strive toward higher goals, I am proud to present our report card — our graduates that are your children and family members and our neighbors.

JIM MORENO is the president of the Coast Community College District's Board of Trustees.