News Release

Live Commencement Features 65-Year-Old Receiving his Associate’s Degree

​​ (Orange, CA) - During a pandemic, 50 years after his first stint at college, 65-year-old Steven Besneatte proves it's never too late to learn. Besneatte earned an associate’s degree in Arts, Humanities, and Communications from Santiago Canyon College (SCC) last night when the institution celebrated Commencement in person for the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 at the Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

SCC Student Steven Besneatte.jpg 

After graduating from Orange High School, he enrolled at Santa Ana College, before SCC existed. He started as a Communications major and joined the el Don student newspaper, pursuing his middle school and high school aspirations of becoming a journalist. Simultaneously, he was working at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour to make a few bucks. Living in Cerritos, commuting to SAC, and working became too much so he dropped out when his grades started to suffer.

A couple of years later in 1978, he says he lucked out on finding a job with AT&T. “I was very fortunate in finding that job without a degree or education,” said Besneatte. “The temporary job turned into a career as an engineer working on cable lines around Southern California.” During his career, he was a cable maintenance splicer, and later became a manager.

Once retired, he made a list of things he wanted to do during his downtime; like read one of his 4,000 books, digitize his large vinyl collection, and go back to school. “The motivation was basically to finish something I started a long time ago and just never finished,” Besneatte said. But school life wasn’t everything he hoped for due to the pandemic. He was looking forward to socializing with students and “dazzling” the teachers with his “experience and brilliance.” No matter though, Besneatte found out that online learning worked out for him. Although the last time he went to school libraries were necessary to study, and the only way to get in touch with a professor was during office hours, Besneatte adapted. He noticed Zoom classes lessened in-class distractions, and he successfully averaged a “B” in his classes. The SCC faculty and staff, he credits, as being quick and helpful in responding to his needs and questions.

Besneatte isn’t done yet either. He plans to return to SCC for the fall 2021 semester and continue seeking communications classes. The itch for human interaction and the desire to learn isn’t leaving him any time soon. And, for him, community college is the perfect place.

“Community college is [perfect for] people who aren’t bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. candidates. We don’t all have to be doctors and lawyers,” Besneatte said.

His new education wasn’t for financial purposes, it was to finish something he started. It was to prove that someone is never too old and it’s never too late to learn. So, as he drives with his fiancé, Pam Phelps, to Mammoth getting ready to fish and play hours of online poker, he reinforces his gratitude to education.

“Nobody knows everything, and even if you knew it once, you probably forgot a lot of it. So for older people, community college is perfect,” Besneatte said.

For more information about Santiago Canyon College, please visit

About Santiago Canyon College
Santiago Canyon College (SCC) is one of two colleges in the Rancho Santiago Community College District and serves approximately 16,000 students annually. Accredited in 2000, this dynamic and award-winning institution is located in Southern California, in the city of Orange, and provides an array of educational opportunities to the over 195,000 residents comprising the eclectic community. SCC offers 221 degree and certificate programs (including 28 associate degrees for transfer). SCC has been ranked among the “50 Best Community Colleges” in the U.S. by College Choice, recognized multiple times by The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of “The Great Colleges to Work For,” received Gold-level status as a Military Friendly School®, and boasts award-winning, dedicated faculty, high-quality and student-centered education, and has an excellent university transfer rate supported by transfer-guarantee programs.

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Contact: Ruth Cossio-Muniz

Phone: (714) 480-7503