News Release

Multiple Santa Ana College Siblings from Two Families Graduating Together Is A First in College’s Nearly 100 Year History

​​T​hree brothers and three sisters earning their high school diplomas to graduate May 30

(SANTA ANA, CA)—For the first time in Santa Ana College’s (SAC) nearly 100 year history, two families will have three children each—ranging from ages 19 into their 30s—graduate at the same time as they receive their high school diplomas on Friday, May 30 at 6:30 p.m. at SAC’s Cook Gymnasium.

The Cepeda brothers—Andree, 23; Ricardo, 21, and Carlo 19—of Lake Forest, along with their parents, emigrated from their native Ecuador a year ago. Enrolled at their university back home, Andree and Ricardo were studying to become a doctor, and a computer engineer respectively. Their younger brother, Carlo, was about to finish high school. Desiring the level of education that’s available in the United States, their parents moved the family from their South American city of Riobamba to Orange County.   All three siblings plan to attend SAC in the fall as college freshmen, and then transfer to a four-year college.

Earning their high school diplomas has not been the only thing that the three brothers have been pursuing. Andree, the oldest, attends ROP classes in the mornings, and works part-time in the afternoons as a waiter at a Laguna Woods elder care facility.

“It’s work,” says Andree. “But you just have to apply yourself, and you can do it.” Andree hopes to enroll in SAC’s nursing program.

Ricardo, who plans to enter SAC’s computer science program in the fall, enjoys fixing computers. Recently he built his own computer. Asked what that was like, he responded, “expensive.” He works with his brother Andree as a waiter at the same Laguna Woods facility. 

Youngest brother Carlo has been working at McDonald’s while earning his high school diploma. He plans to join his brothers soon as a waiter at the same Laguna Woods facility. He also hopes to enroll in SAC’s nursing program.

Their parents, who have always emphasized education, see this as a small step, but a very important one. “My son Carlo doesn’t see this as an honor. To him it’s a responsibility,” shares their mother Ximena.

 Originally from Mexico City, the Rincon sisters of Westminster—Olivia, Alma, and Vianney—joined their family here in the United States through the years. Back in Mexico, Olivia, today in her thirties, earned her law degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, and held a position in the Mexican Labor Secretary’s office. “Our mom and dad always pushed us to study,” said the oldest of the three sisters. Olivia, who completed the high school  diploma program with a 4.0 GPA, will return to SAC in the fall as a college freshman where she plans to enroll in the school’s paralegal program. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes, I want to practice law here, and help others.”

Middle sister Alma, had a promising career as a biologist while living in Mexico City, teaching at the UNAM where her research was published, and was even offered the opportunity to earn her Ph.D. at the University of Barcelona in molecular biology. Family circumstances, however, forced her to make a choice. “I was at the airport in Mexico City and had to decide: do I buy a ticket to go to California to be with family, or do I go to Barcelona,” recalls the SAC student. She chose family.  Today, she tutors junior high, high school, and college students in all subjects. Alma, who graduates with a GPA of 3.9, will be enrolling at SAC in the fall, and plans a research career in biology in the United States.

For the youngest of the sisters, Vianney, family circumstances made school—especially high school—difficult.  “I wasn’t going to my classes consistently,” she says. “It would have been too hard to catch up, so I never went back to high school.” But she always wanted to have ties to school, so she enrolled in the ROP dental assistant program, earning her dental x-ray license. She later moved on to work for a dental insurance company in the finance department assisting the CFO, and accountants with audits by a well-known national accounting firm.  “That’s when I knew I wanted to be a CPA,” she says. Graduating with a 4.0 GPA at the end of this month, Vianney plans to enroll in accounting courses at SAC this fall, transfer to a UC, and become an accountant for PricewaterhouseCoopers where her older brother works.

About SAC’s High School Diploma Program
The Santa Ana College School of Continuing Education (SACSCE) offers a state-approved adult high school diploma program. The SAC/SCE High School Diploma Program is free and serves nearly 4,500 students each year.  Students enroll in the program for different reasons, according to SAC Student Program Specialist Counselor Frank Suarez. “For some, it’s to learn the language. They may have been taught English at a slower pace back in their home country, now they want to get ahead,” says Suarez. “Another reason adults decide to enroll in this program is to assimilate to the United States’ educational system. And finally, people enroll in our program because it opens up a variety of options.”

About Santa Ana College 
Santa Ana College (SAC), which will turn 100 years old in 2015, serves about 18,000 students each semester at its main campus in Santa Ana. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions, provides invaluable workforce training, and customized training for business and industry. In addition, another 13,000 students are served through the college’s School of Continuing Education located at Centennial Education Center. Ranked as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students, the college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and other medical personnel. SAC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District. Visit to learn more.

 #  #  #

Contact: Judy Iannaccone

Phone: (714) 480-7503