first_imgIt wasn’t that long ago that Julian Rivas was staring out a tiny window of a solitary confinement cell, his home for more than two years, and looking at a bleak, empty field.On Saturday afternoon, he stood on a stage and looked out into the sea of black robes worn by his fellow graduating class of Washington State University Vancouver as he accepted the Chancellor’s Award for Student Achievement.Rivas, 29, joined a record number of 1,014 graduates from the Salmon Creek campus. That number includes 28 doctoral candidates, 110 master’s candidates and 876 bachelor’s candidates.From a young age, Rivas was in and out of detention centers and later, prison. A lot of people around him were serving life sentences, but he knew he had another shot. And before he lost everyone he loved, he decided he would change. The day he was released from his last stint in prison, he bought a one-way ticket out of California to Longview.Graduation day, he said, was surreal. His family was in the audience.“My family is like how did you go from that place to this place in five years?” he said.Now, with a bachelor’s of arts in social sciences with a concentration in human resources administration, certificate in case management and 3.9 grade point average, he envisions helping other troubled young people navigate their lives.last_img