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Class of 2021 Student Commencement Speaker Bryce Cristiano Shares His Journey

Class of 2021 Student Speaker Bryce Cristiano Rio Salado College Virtual Commencement

Class of 2021 Student Commencement Speaker Bryce Cristiano Shares His Journey

Join student speaker Bryce Cristiano and the graduating class of 2021 for Rio Salado College’s virtual commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 6, 2021, at 5:30 p.m.

When Bryce Cristiano got his first camera as a child, a budding storyteller and filmmaker was born.

“As soon as I got a camera as a child, I started making short films and animations to tell stories, graduating to larger cameras as I have grown up,” Cristiano said.

Cristiano is graduating with an associate of arts degree, which he hopes to put to use in the film industry. He has a lot of material in his own life to inspire future film stories. Eight years ago, at age 18, Cristiano moved to China with hopes of enrolling in a Chinese university.

“The challenges I faced with integrating into life in China, learning Chinese on my own, all while striving to attend university, continuously pushed me past my limits,” he said. 

In 2019, Cristiano returned to the U.S. to contemplate his educational options.

“Rio Salado College was my gateway back into the U.S. education system,” Cristiano said.

He chose Rio Salado for the flexibility and convenience of online classes.

“Since Rio is entirely online, students can complete coursework whenever it suits them,” Cristiano said. “It was a great decision for me, considering the pandemic would begin only months after I enrolled.”

Despite being in an online learning environment, Cristiano still found opportunities to connect with others.

“I made incredible friendships with peers and had much support from the Rio faculty,” Cristiano said. “The faculty and instructors at Rio Salado want to see their students succeed, and they go out of their way to support students.”

Cristiano also joined Rio Salado’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society for community college students and co-led the group’s spring Honors in Action project.

In March, Cristiano was one of the 77 Arizona community college students named to the 2021 All-Arizona Academic Team, recognizing students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and leadership.

Accolades aside, Cristiano said staying on track was the key to his online success.

“Work ahead on assignments where you can and avoid procrastination,” Cristiano said. “The main key in online learning is allowing yourself the time and space between assignments. I would often spend three to four hours studying before taking a long walk to consider how I would write a paper or complete an assignment to break the monotony of sitting in front of a computer.”

As the 2021 student commencement speaker, Cristiano wants to inspire fellow graduates that graduation does not mean the end of learning.

“We should all take time to feel pride in our accomplishments, but we should not dwell on this success for too long,” Cristiano said. “We should look ahead to our future challenges and keep striding toward new goals.”

Cristiano’s future goals include continuing his education and a career in the film industry. He will transfer to the City College of New York this fall to pursue a double major in history and film production, followed by a master’s degree in film production.

“My life goal is to work with my girlfriend to produce films in the U.S. and China that challenge tradition and serve to illuminate social issues in engaging ways,” Cristiano said. “I want to bring these original stories and slices of history to life on screen.”

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