San Diego Mesa College awarded its first bachelor's degrees at a commencement ceremony Saturday afternoon.
Sixteen students received the Bachelor of Science degrees in Health Information Management, which is a continuation of the college's Health Information Technology Associates Degree program.
“This is a truly historic year for Mesa College,” San Diego Mesa College President Pamela T. Luster said.
Mesa College was one of 14 other community colleges that received the state's approval to offer bachelor's degrees under California's Baccalaureate Pilot Program.
Until 2015, the state's 112 community colleges have offered only two-year degrees. A bill authored by Democratic State Sen. Marty Block and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, however, established a seven-year pilot program that allows a maximum of 15 college districts to offer a single four-year degree each in subjects not currently offered by the University of California or California State University systems.
A maximum of 32 students are admitted into Mesa's baccalaureate program each year and the entire program costs $10,500.
The college also graduated its first set of San Diego Promise students whose education was funded through a state program for first-time college students.
"We are also proud of our first set of San Diego Promise students, many of whom are graduating with honors,” Luster said.
Close to 2,000 students earned degrees and certificates in 2018, an increase of 8 percent over 2017, according to the college. More than 700 students graduated with more than one degree, and the class of 2018 had 34 valedictorians and close to 600 students who are graduating with honors, the college said.