Performer Behind City College's Rocky the Ram Revealed At Graduation Ceremony

After six years performing as Rocky the Ram, a City College of San Francisco student reveals themself as the performer behind the mask.

Performer Behind City College's Rocky the Ram Revealed At Graduation Ceremony
The longtime performer behind Rocky the Ram graduated in May 2024. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

At City College of San Francisco’s commencement ceremony last week, one graduate received an unusual send-off.

The crowd chanted “Rocky” as the college’s mascot, a giant cuddly ram, made their way across the stage to Board of Trustees President Alan Wong who promptly handed the furry student a certificate. After a beat, the mask came off, horns and all. And Fran Smith revealed herself publicly for the first time as Rocky.

Revealing the performer behind a mascot while they still represent a school is taboo.

“Your belief in the credence of the fun aspects of the college experience, even in the face of adversary, is an inspiration to us all,” Wong said to Smith. “You have truly embodied the spirit of City College and have made a significant contribution to the college community.”

Smith, who has been performing as the ram since 2018, received her associate’s degree in journalism. She hails from the city's south side, and she has worked as a photographer for years and has had photography published in The Ingleside Light.

In 2017, Smith had just missed her first opportunity to be the mascot when she stumbled upon a form to sign up to wear the costume in the Pride Parade.

Determined, Smith waited until opportunity struck again in 2018 for that year’s parade to fulfill her dream of being Rocky and remained as the mascot ever since.

Mascot lifts up mask while on stage at graudation.
Fran Smith reveals that she has been Rocky the Ram for six years. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light

“I've done costume work before but being a mascot is different,” Smith said. “It's fun, hard work and there's a certain satisfaction in seeing people enjoy the silliness and fun of it.”

Prior to 2017, Smith had no memory of the mascot sparking joy and raising a ruckus at any athletic or student event, aside from graduation ceremonies.

While working with the Outreach and Recruitment Department in 2023, Rocky was made over both internally and externally at the college to establish the mascot as an icon, full-time employee and Rocky’s guide at the commencement Cathy Chang said. Initial efforts included hosting a Rocky costume contest runway show in 2023.

“Rocky has been instrumental in creating such a warm and inviting atmosphere for many events that CCSF organizes throughout the year,” Chang said. “Fran is exceptionally professional and passionate about the role of Rocky. Audiences of all ages love to dance with Rocky, take selfies with Rocky and give a big hug to Rocky. Rocky has been creating a positive impression of the college.”

Now that Smith’s time at the college as a student has concluded, she will don the costume at least one more time at the Welcome Day in the fall.

“I want people to walk away with a little bit of a good emotional attachment to City College by doing this,” Smith said. “Rocky has become sort of a minor celebrity and I'm glad.”

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