Students, friends, parents, teachers and staff joined together at College of the Canyons’ (COC) Honor Grove Friday to celebrate the community college’s 48th annual commencement ceremony.
“Having completed your studies at College of the Canyons you’ve already experienced an amazing amount of success,” COC Chancellor Diane Van Hook said. “Commencement celebrates having gone through what you went through which was different for every one of you to be able to get here. At the same time it marks the beginning of your next steps on your path to successes that are yet to be defined.”
This year, 2,046 students graduated from COC with associate’s degrees in 110 different majors. Ninety-one students graduated with two or more degrees, 496 students graduated with honors and 34 graduated with perfect 4.0 GPAs.
In addition, the college celebrated the graduation of 68 Academy of the Canyons students.
“That means is that they’re going to get their college diploma day and in this very same spot tomorrow their high school diploma,” Van Hook said.
Students as long as 16 and as old as 77 sat excitedly in the crowd as Van Hook encouraged the students to follow their heart and intuition, to stay focused and to create their own definition of success during her address.
“As you go forward perhaps you will find that what really matters are not those things you can measure,” she said. “What matters to you over the long haul are those things that motivate you inside, your relationships, finding meaningful work that lets you do your best and the sense that what you’re doing matters.”
Van Hook also told the students to hold fast to their dreams and to move forward with confidence in all they do.
“Your being here today is an example of what’s possible when you desire to explore is greater than giving in to fear,” she said. “I wish you nothing better than a positive attitude, a belief in yourself and a connection of friendships and relationships that matter.”
The graduates also heard a speech from COC’s Valedictorian Rita Sebastian who earned her degree in human resources management and intends on transferring to the University of La Verne.
Sebastian, who immigrated to the United States from Lebanon at 12 years old, is the first in her family to attend college. Following her graduation from University of La Verne, she plans on owning and operating a traditional Armenian restaurant.
“You all deserve to feel proud of yourselves today,” Sebastian said. “And you parents should have a sense of joy knowing your children have earned a college degree.”
Following the speeches, Kinesiology Professor Lisa Hooper and Van Hook presented the class of 2017 before Board of Trustees President Steve Zimmer conferred their degrees.
“Congratulations everyone for being here, for persevering and for doing a great job to earn this,” Zimmer said.
The 2,046 cheered, jumped, smiled and high fived as they each walked on stage to receive their degrees and walked off stage to wave to the audience.
“You guys did great,” said Michael Wilding, COC’s vice president of Student Services. “You have studied, written papers, computed labs, taken tests, found parking, you paid for books and now, with great efforts, you’ve achieved your goals.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_