Article - Office of College Advancement

Dina Eastwood stars at Ohlone commencement

Alumna, movie star's wife, warns graduates, 'Nothing will go as planned'

By odd R. Brown, Staff writer.

Friday, May 25, 2007—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fremont—Ohlone College turned up the star power at its graduation ceremony Thursday night, bringing in alumna Dina Ruiz Eastwood—wife of movie star Clint—to give the commencement speech.

"Nothing will go as planned," she told about 585 associate degree recipients. "I was one of those overachievers. I thought I had the complexion connection."

Yet the self-described quarter-Asian, quarter-black graduate of Mission San Jose High School said her hopes of going to USC or UCLA were dashed by financial challenges.

Instead, she went to Ohlone and eventually became a TV news anchor and the wife of a California superstar.

"I'm a stay-at-home mom. The PTA is my excitement of the week," she said, adding that one thing she's learned is, "Putting in 40 hours a week with no homework is fantastic."

The 41-year-old said she was proud to address what she called the most diverse community college graduating class in the nation.

Among the tasseled students was Melanie Inouye, 20, who earned a liberal arts degree and is pondering the dental hygienist program at Chabot College in Hayward.

"I just want to thank my parents for everything," the Fremont resident said, wearing turquoise eye shadow that complemented her satiny, emerald robes. "I'm just excited about graduating."

Her fellow Ohlone basketball teammate, Danesha Wright, 19, earned the same degree and is heading to the University of San Francisco on an athletic scholarship despite being just 5 foot 2.

"My game is like Allen Iverson's," the West Oaklander said, tight braids hanging below her cap. "I create open shots."

In the audience was Elizabeth Subasa, 76, who came up from San Diego to watch her grandson Ian graduate with double honors in math. So was she proud?

"What do you think?" she said. "Yes, sir."

Dina Eastwood, the daughter of a science teacher at her high school, grew up in Mission San Jose and went to Ohlone for a few semesters before earning a broadcasting bachelor's degree from San Francisco State University, with stops at Chabot and elsewhere along the way.

She eventually became a reporter and news anchor for a Salinas TV station in the'90s, and she credited Ohlone with helping her stay in journalism after a college internship expired.

"I remember crying my eyes out and driving up to Ohlone to see if they had any TV production classes," she said by phone earlier Thursday, adding that she lucked out and found an audition for a news anchor position on a local cable show.

So she re-enrolled for a semester and segued to a full-time reporting job a few months later.

Raised in an apartment house on Ellsworth Street, Eastwood recalled that the community college a block away on Mission Boulevard was the last place she wanted to wind up.

"To us it was just a continuation high school. I was very unhappy about it. It ended up being great for me," she said. "Ohlone totally served me when I thought I'd soaked everything out of it I could."

Eastwood lives with her husband of 11 years in Pebble Beach, where they have a daughter, Morgan, age 10. Eastwood also is "mom" to four of her husband's previous children; three more are grown.

They met when she interviewed the star in 1993, the year his presidential assassination drama, "In the Line of Fire," came out.

"I actually said, 'Oh, he's really cute, he's a really cool guy.' My boss put in the tape and said, 'You two are going to get married.' I said, 'That's weird.' Our age difference was so great (Clint Eastwood turns 77 next week). I didn't see us together."

Besides, Dina Eastwood said, she was "crazy about somebody," and Clint Eastwood's girlfriend had a baby on the way. But those relationships ended, and he asked her out a year later.

The actor-director could not attend the graduation ceremony, having committed to a charity golf tournament in Carmel—"I can't even reach him tonight," Dina said—but she called him a "very accessible person" rather than a standoff celebrity.

On the downside, she said being in the perennial limelight gives her little time alone.

"A lot of people who can't get ahold of Clint, they get ahold of me," she said. "There's a lot of calls and a lot of e-mails. That's c'est la vie."

Eastwood drove around her old neighborhood before the commencement and observed: "Nothing's changed. It's kind of wonderful."

She also said she got a charge out of the media perks of returning to the old 'hood.

"I'm proud to be interviewed by The Argus," she said. "That's my hometown paper."

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