Saturday, August 01, 2015
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AVC graduate chosen for statewide award

Kay Ryan, an Antelope Valley College graduate and the nation’s poet laureate for two years, has been chosen to receive the California Community College Distinguished Alumni Award for 2010.

College President Dr. Jackie L. Fisher Sr. made the announcement Friday during a “Welcome Back” event on the campus prior to Monday’s start of the fall semester.

She’s joined an elite group of community college leaders,” Fisher said of Ryan’s selection by the Community College League of California (CCLC), an advocacy group that represents public two-year colleges.

Ryan becomes the first AVC student to be named to the statewide honor. Prior recipients of the award includes such notables as filmmaker George Lucas, actors Tom Hanks, Edward James Olmos and Robin Williams, baseball greats Jackie Robinson and Joe Morgan, U.S. treasurer Rosario Marin, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Hopefully there will be more (AVC alumni) to come,” Fisher said of the honor.

“It’s another example of the outstanding contributions that community colleges have made to society,” said Fisher. “It’s great.”

Ryan (nee Pedersen) was a resident of Rosamond who graduated from Antelope Valley High School in 1963 and attended AVC, where she earned an associate in arts degree in 1965.

It was during Ryan’s two years attending AVC that she was introduced to poetry that was to influence her writing. She continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

She went on to become an English instructor at a community college, College of Marin, and wrote several books of poetry.

Ryan was named as the nation’s 16th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2008, joining a list of distinguished poets who have served in the position.

During two one-year terms as Poet Laureate, Ryan sought to create an appreciation for poetry as well as pay tribute to the work being done through the nation’s community colleges.

"Kay has been an uplifting presence as laureate during the past year, and her poetry continues to awe and delight readers,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said at the appointment of Ryan’s second term.

Her awards include a 1995 award from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the 2000 Union League Poetry Prize, the 2001 Maurice English Poetry Award, a 2001 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a 2004 Guggenheim Fellowship, and the 2004 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

Ryan’s Distinguished Alumni Award is due to be presented at the CCLC convention Nov. 18-20 at the Pasadena Convention Center.