Mt. Hood graduate to perform at commencement
By Teresa Lane
Mt. Hood Community College graduate Romeo Diahn will sing “America the Beautiful” this weekend in front of the biggest live audience he’s ever had.
“It means the world to me to be able to sing in front of my college. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” says Diahn, who will be one of about 600 MHCC students to walk across the stage to receive a diploma or certificate.
The graduation ceremonies are Friday, June 15 for adult high school diploma and general education development learners, and Saturday, June 16 for other students.
Born in Liberia, Diahn’s family fled to Ghana after a civil war broke out in his home country in 1989. Singing became a way for him to cope with life in a refugee camp.
After reaching the U.S., he knew he wanted to pursue a college education. A high school field trip made this choice simple: “Once I came to MHCC I did not want to leave. There’s a lot of help, a lot of good people, a lot of caring people. It was the college for me.”
Diahn has focused his studies in music, singing and experimenting with the recording equipment available to students. He has also been heavily involved in student activities on campus, working as a senator in student government.
Although Diahn will be awarded his degree, his formal education will not stop. After some time at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, he hopes to return to MHCC and receive training to work in the restaurant industry.
He also plans to continue singing and writing music. This past winter he was a contestant on American Idol, the widely popular reality television singing competition.
Due to his genuine love of music, Diahn advanced all the way to Hollywood, but was cut from the show soon after.
“It was the greatest experience of my life,” he says, “the most heartbreaking experience. It was the happiest I have ever been.”
The 23-year-old credits much of his success in education, and in life, to MHCC.
“I have learned everything here. My profession came from here,” he says. “The courage to just be happy came from here. When I sing ‘America the Beautiful,’ I am reminded of my time at MHCC.”