It is 30 steps from the back of the gymnasium to the podium where the College of Alameda graduates will get their diplomas. They're the first steps toward something that 49-year-old Robin Sullivan has wanted all her life.
"It's a dream of mine to become a teacher and further my education. I had children young and I was unable to do it because my children needed me at home," said Sullivan.
Like many getting their community college degrees on Friday, Sullivan is going on to a state university, then a credentialing program and then into an uncertain job market, with other graduates like Jonathan Wong.
"My mom always tells me like, 'You need to put your education first and you need to educate yourself in order to get that job. Because there's like competition out there,'" said Wong.
It's true the job market's much different than it was five years ago. A Rutgers University study shows in 2006, 90 percent of graduates from four year colleges were employed within a year, but last year, only about half got jobs -- 56 percent.
That's why it may not be surprising that while two thirds of 2006 grads moved back home after school. According research firm Twenty Something Inc/, 85 percent of last year's graduates moved back in with mom and dad.
"I'm currently living with mom and dad. It's the best thing for a lot of us that can't support on our own," said graduate Christine Pham.
Wong lives at home too because he's only 17. He is graduating from college on Friday and graduates from high school on Saturday.
"Yeah, I know it's kind of backwards, but it's happening for me," said Wong.
Wong has time on his side, but that's not really the case for Robin Sullivan.
"Whether it gives me a job or it doesn't, it's something that I want to accomplish that will make me feel good and whole inside," said Sullivan.