Through the decades......Saddleback celebrates 40 years of excellence
Published: Monday, September 29, 2008
Updated: Thursday, January 8, 2009 12:01
"Many of the students were veterans," Williams said. "There was a large military presence at Saddleback. Most were on the GI Bill and were Marines stationed at either Camp Pendleton or El Toro Marine Base."
The college has many notable alumni and past attendees including artists, actors, musicians, and even the 1984 Playboy Playmate of the Year, Barbara Edwards. Sadly, one former student lost his life while serving his country in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004.
Tran Quoc Binh graduated from Mission Viejo High School in 1994, and then attended Saddleback to study mechanical engineering. After serving in the U.S. Army, he joined the California Army National Guard. On Nov. 7, 2004, he died when an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle while conducting convoy operations. A few days later, Governor Schwarzenegger issued a state decree that the California Capitol flags were to be flown at half-mast in Binh's honor. He was first the Vietnamese-American killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom that year.
The list of professional athletes who attended Saddleback is long. Washington Redskins quarterback Colt Brennan moved on to the University of Hawaii after leading the Gauchos to a conference championship in 2004.
As a high school dropout, Denver Nuggets point guard Anthony Carter was discovered in 1994 on a neighborhood basketball court in Atlanta and recruited by Saddleback's basketball coach Bill Brummel. Convinced that Carter and the college would both benefit, Brummel persuaded Carter that he could come and play for Saddleback while earning his GED. He went on to score the most points of any California junior college players in 1995 and 96.
"This was my second chance," Carter later told the Denver Post. "I took full advantage of it."
The college's Alumni of the Year of 2007, Tim Wallach, played third base from 1980 to 86 for the Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Anaheim Angels. Wallach attended Saddleback from 1976 to 77.
Actress Lynn Holly Johnson was nominated for a Golden Globe award in 1980 for her lead role in 1978's "Ice Castles" and went on to play roles in both movie and television until the mid 90s. She was a nursing major at Saddleback from 1990 to 94, and maintained a remarkable 3.7 GPA while continuing her acting career.
Since it's beginning in 1968, enrollment has grown exponentially. What was once a brush-covered hillside on a ranch in Mission Viejo is now a 122-acre community college that this fall welcomed nearly 25,000 students this fall.
"People constantly try to get me to say that students are not as good, but I don't buy that," Parsons said. "They are pretty much the same, except there's not dress code and everybody's got a cell phone in their ear."
The high-necked, ruffled, long-sleeved shirts worn with the sweeping mini-skirts, sports jackets and shiny dress shoes of 1968 have now been replaced with tank tops, board shorts and flip-flops. Other than that, students at Saddleback are still the same; all seeking a quality community college education and experience.