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Last Graduation For Heald College

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Rancho Cordova-

Students from Heald Colleges received diplomas at a student organized graduation ceremony, even though the school is now defunct.

About 80 students from the Rancho Cordova, Roseville and Concord campuses took part in the graduation attended by family members, staff and faculty.

Many of the students finished their studies just days before the school closed its doors at the end of April. But students who were forced to find another school to complete their studies were also welcomed.

"You've got to turn a negative into a positive, and this was a big negative for a lot of us, and for me this makes it a very big positive," said student organizer Wendy Walraven.

Walraven finished her medical assistant training and says the school and it's staff and faculty have been like family.

Heald got into trouble by federal and state regulators for misrepresenting job placement rates and luring mostly low-income students into programs that were useless. Much of the earnings of the private school came from student grants and loans.

Supporters of Heald, which was founded over 150 years ago, say issues arose after Corinthian Colleges purchased Heald several years ago. Corinthian was fined $30 million by the federal government and was forced to shut Heald down when a buyer couldn't be found.

Ada Gerard, the former President of the Rancho Cordova campus, spoke at the graduation. She told FOX40 News that the students are on their way to a brighter future with or without Heald. She says her experience was gratifying.

"When people want something and want a dream and they want to change their life circumstances they can do it with the right mentor and the right help," said Gerard.

Linda Stripe, who is now attending another school, took part in the cap and gown ceremony.

"I started out at Heald and even though it's not an official graduation, it's still going to be a graduation for me," said Stripe.