GWC’s 45th Commencement – It’s a Family Affair

For the first time in Golden West College’s history, a husband and wife will deliver the Annual Commencement Address. GWC Alumni Rick Lara and Brandee Williams are both educators in our local area.  Rick currently teaches for the Rancho Santiago College District, and the Santa Ana Unified School District. Brandee teaches dance and physical education in the Tustin Unified School District.

Rick Lara began his 35-year career as an educator and coach as an inaugural staff member of Ocean View High School. He then went on to start the legendary speech and communications department at Irvine High School, which he helmed for 16 years. As a member of football and wrestling coaching staffs, he helped lead many teams to CIF championships. Rick was honored as a Teacher of the Year in 1979, 1984, 1994 and 2004. He was named an Orange County Assistant Coach of the Year in 1994, 1997 and 1999.

After graduating from GWC with an Associate of Arts degree, Williams enjoyed a successful career in entertainment, which included national tours, film and television. She returned to school and received a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, and later a Master of Fine Arts in Dance, both from California State University, Long Beach. Her thesis project, an invitational dance concert, was actually held on the GWC stage.
Williams was named Teacher of the Year while an inaugural staff member of Century High School in the Santa Ana Unified School District, and has been named in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers numerous times.

Rick Lara attended Golden West College from 1973 to 1975 as a student-athlete and still calls Golden West College his home campus. Brandee Williams graduated from GWC in 1979. Throughout the 1990’s, she directed more than a dozen award-winning full-scale musicals at Golden West.