PHOENIX (April 27, 2023) – Award-winning international architect and designer Oscar De las salas will give the keynote commencement address at Phoenix College’s Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 12, 2023, at 6:00 p.m., to be held at the at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 1826 West McDowell Road in Phoenix. The class of 2023 represents 1,093 graduates, with more than 1,500 associate degrees and certificates being awarded, and 130 students graduating with a 4.0 grade point average (GPA).
A native of Barranquilla, Colombia, Oscar De las salas, has more than two decades of experience with municipal and community development projects. Early in his career, he served as Project Architect and Field Coordinator for four U.S. Embassies around the world: Bolivia, Colombia, Singapore, and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. At the completion of that commission, Oscar relocated to Spain to complete his Master’s Degree in Architecture and Interior Architecture from the University of Salamanca in 1998.
After Oscar arrived in Phoenix to write his thesis about Taliesin West, he stayed to join a small architectural firm working on private and municipal projects. He eventually became a U.S. citizen and the Principal and Operating Manager of the firm. “My leadership style is hands-on, working shoulder-to-shoulder with clients and the design team,” he said. Looking to upgrade his English skills, he enrolled in evening classes at Phoenix College, determined to propel his career forward in the U.S. Since 2017, Oscar has been with the global design firm, Gensler. Currently, he is Manager of Client Relationships, advancing business development across Arizona and the Southwest Region.
About being asked to be the keynote speaker, Oscar said “As an alumnus of PC, it is a special honor to stand before the illustrious class of 2023 at this more than 100-year-old institution and share my thoughts at this year’s commencement. I am drawn to the root beliefs of PC, born from the idea that everyone should have access to education, and to the much more grandiose idea to be a place of inclusion in changing times. Looking back to my humble beginnings in this city, I would have never ever imagined the lifelong impact I was provided by the English grammar classes to help my ESL, which helped jumpstart the fulfillment of my own American Dream."
Oscar’s passion for the future of Phoenix fuels his belief in the arts, youth mentorship, and urban planning. He serves on several boards where he devotes his talents including Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), Phoenix Art Museum Circles of Support Advisory Board, Friends of Phoenix Public Art, ArtLink Board of Directors, Southwest Shakespeare Advisory Board, Arizona Opera Finance Board, Phoenix Sisters Cities Board of Directors, and Urban Land Institute Arizona Chapter. Internationally, he serves as the global ambassador for PROCOLOMBIA, an agency of the Executive Branch of the Government of Colombia in charge of promoting Colombian non-traditional exports, international tourism, and foreign investment.
Most recently, Oscar was appointed a Commissioner for Phoenix Sister Cities, and now serves as Associate Professor for the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts - The Design School at Arizona State University. Oscar currently resides in Central Phoenix where he lives with Gary Jackson, his husband and the love of his life for 17 years.
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Phoenix College is the flagship of the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. Established in 1920, PC offers academic courses leading to associate degrees, university transfer, certificates and short-term job training.
The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the District. The Maricopa County Community College District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities. For Title IX/504 concerns, call the following number to reach the appointed coordinator: (480) 731-8499. For additional information, as well as a listing of all coordinators within the Maricopa College system, http://www.maricopa.edu/non-discrimination.
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