San Diego

6 Decades Separates Community College Grads

Barbara Sue Adkins and Hinsseenee Regassa are the oldest and youngest 2016 graduates of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, respectively

While more than 63 years separate Barbara Sue Adkins and Hinsseenee Regassa, the two have one important thing in common.

Adkins, 80, is the oldest graduate at Cuyamaca College, and Regassa, 17, is the youngest graduate from Grossmont College.

“All my life, I had dreamed of going to college, but I was raised in a time and place where women weren’t encouraged to get an education,” said Adkins, a former Navy wife from Kentucky who moved to the West Coast when her first husband was transferred to San Diego. “I did what was the norm, which was to get married and have children.”

Having graduated high school in 1953, Adkins received a certificate of achievement in Child Development in 2016.

With six children, 12 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren Adkins has some experience in caring for children.

She started school in 2010 with a focus on preschool education.

Adkins said she intends to go back to finish her Associate’s degree then get her Bachelor’s.

“I loved every minute of going to Cuyamaca,” Adkins said. “There was never a morning I woke up and dreaded going to school. Kids are my passion, especially the ones with special needs.”

Regassa will be heading to UC Davis in the fall on a soccer scholarship.

She began taking classes at Grossmont College at 16 after passing the California High School Proficiency Exam to earn the legal equivalent of a high school diploma.

“Grossmont has so many resources for students like me, looking to learn more and do great things with their lives,” she said.

She majored in communications and plans to do so again at UC Davis. She has her sights set on professional soccer, music production, photography, and filmmaking. She already has one film to her credit, a short documentary, “Skin,” in which young black girls share stories as victims of racism. The work was shown in the 2014 San Diego Asian Film Festival.

“I like to be challenged,” she said about her busy life.

No matter where they go in life both women will always be able to say they set a record as a 2016 graduate of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. There’s no telling what they’ll achieve next.

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