College of Alameda Virtual Commencement 2021

Friday, May 28, 2021 at 3:00 p.m.

Class of 2021 President’s Medallion Recipient, Valedictorian & Salutatorian

President's Medallion Winner

Hongying Angel Huang, President’s Medallion Recipient

I am Hongying (Angel) Huang and I have been studying at College of Alameda since August 2018. I am a mother of two. In June 2017, my family and I immigrated to the United States from China. Before migrating, I was a writer in Chinese and an editor for a Chinese magazine. Before coming to the U.S. I rarely used English in my daily work and life.  My English was very poor as a new immigrant to the United States.

Since entering College of Alameda and after three years of hard study, my English level has greatly improved. In November 2020, I applied for transfer with a 4.0 GPA. In April 2021, I received transfer offers from four universities in California. I have accepted the offer from UC Santa Cruz as the four-year undergraduate university where I will continue my academic career in the fall of 2021.


Donna Hooper, Valedictorian

My name is Donna Jean Hooper. I am honored to be Valedictorian for the COA class of 2021. I graduated from Castlemont High School in 1979. I have over 40 years of experience in the fast-food sector, from cashier to manager.

My life took a turn in 1996, when I became addicted to drugs and alcohol.  This time in my life was the darkest place I had ever been. I did not see any way out until January 19, 2012, when I entered the Epiphany House for Women and Children in S.F. This was the beginning of the new me.

I am now celebrating nine years of sobriety. I attend ReGenesis Christian Center in Oakland Ca. I surrendered my life over to God and I give him all the glory and praise for my success. I am now successfully fulfilling my lifelong dream to further my education.

I am a recent graduate of COA with a double AA degree in Sociology and Social and Behavioral Science. I am also completing my pursuit of my third AA degree in African American Studies, to be awarded in May 2021. My greatest accomplishment was successfully completing the program at Epiphany House for Women and Children. My goal is to give back to the community, inspire and give hope to those who are suffering from the social pandemic of addiction.


Benjamin Wilson-Ripsom, Salutatorian

Hello fellow 2021 College of Alameda graduates, my name is Benjamin Wilson-Ripsom. I’m 16 years old and I’ve been a concurrently enrolled student at both Encinal High School and COA for the past two years.

A few interesting things about me are that before the beginning of the pandemic, I was very engaged in both track and cross country running, as well as our school’s business related club, DECA.

In the Fall, I will be returning to in-person high school for my final year as a senior. I had the option to graduate high school early, but I really enjoy spending time with my friends and community. I will be working to transfer the year after this one. I was motivated to join our concurrent enrollment program by a counselor who said I couldn’t do it. I really wanted to prove them wrong, and I think I was able to do so.

As I am still 16, I am unsure of where I want to go career wise, however, I’m leaning towards something in the field of psychology or political science. I’m very excited and honored to be this year’s salutatorian, and I’m incredibly proud of how far we have come as a community! Congratulations graduating class of 2021!