PALM DESERT, Calif. -

Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, will give the commencement address at College of the Desert's graduation ceremony on Friday, the college announced today.

Commencement is 7:30 p.m. at COD's Boone Field. More than 700 students are eligible to participate and about 300 are expected to do so. Students who earned certificates can also participate and will be recognized at commencement for the first time, according to college officials.

"I look forward to joining the graduates and their families as they celebrate this landmark day for the Coachella Valley," Ruiz said.

Student speakers will be Deborah Suer and Shi Tang.

Suer will receive an associate's degree in liberal arts, humanities and communication. Last year, she earned an associate's in alcohol and drug studies. She was also picked to represent COD in the All-California Academic Team, and the College of the Desert Foundation paid for her to attend President Barack Obama's inauguration in January.

Tang, who is from China, enrolled in COD's Intensive English Academy and is working to earn a degree in chemistry. He received English tutoring and later worked for COD's Tutoring and Academic Skills Center. He plans transfer to a university to pursue a medical degree.

A reception will be held in COD's Wright Gymnasium after the ceremony.