College of the Canyons celebrates 50th graduating class students

Graduating nurse Rebecca Rees walks the red carpet during the College of the Canyons nurses graduation ceremony held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Saturday, JUNE 06, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal
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For the 50th year, College of the Canyons celebrated graduation, as well as the graduation of a 60-person Nursing Department cohort, with ceremonies over the weekend.

On Friday, COC invited its 2,427 graduates for the class of 2020 and their families to watch a virtual graduation ceremony.

The ceremony included: 102 majors, with 945 students graduating with two or more degrees; 746 students graduated with honors, which requires a 3.5 grade point average. or higher; and 80 students who earned a 4.0 GPA.

The oldest student to graduate was 81 years old; and the youngest included 48 students who were 17 years old.

Relatives photograph graduating nurse Johnnica Delgado during the College of the Canyons nurses graduation ceremony held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Saturday, JUNE 06, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Supporters photograph from their car as graduating nurse Janine Nowicki recies her pin during the College of the Canyons nurses graduation ceremony held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Saturday, JUNE 06, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

During the ceremony, COC Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook discussed the diversity of the graduating class and how the class had achieved their goals despite challenges that the college had not seen in the last five decades.

“Commit to care for humanity, for the people that you don’t even know,” said Van Hook during her virtual commencement address. “Do the work that defines your life.”

“You are rare individuals who have thrived in adversity,” Van Hook added. “I know you will go on to achieve that which you set your mind to.”

Sebastian Cazares, the student body president and 2020 class speaker, also highlighted the diversity of the class, calling it their strength because each student had been on a distinct journey.

“Maybe you’re transferring to an exciting four-year, or you are wanting to get your A.A. and are pursuing employment, or maybe this was your first college experience, or maybe you’re a returning student. It could be someone who was juggling work and school or you could be an athlete, a bookworm, a performer. You could be from another country, you could have kids, you could even have grandkids or maybe you were all of those or none of those,” said Cazares. “Even through all our differences, there is still so much that we have in common and we all share this tremendous achievement.”

College of the Canyons Nursing Program Assistant Director Adina Carrillo creates display boards for the College of the Canyons nurses graduation ceremony held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Saturday, JUNE 06, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

The entire 50th graduating class then had their degrees conferred, and were declared graduates by Michele Jenkins, the COC board of trustees president.

On Saturday, COC celebrated with a drive-thru graduation for the nursing program.

The graduates were encouraged to come throughout the day to receive their tassels and pin, showing that they were ready to take their board certification test.

College of the Canyons nursing faculty pose for a photo before the College of the Canyons nurses graduation ceremony held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Saturday, JUNE 06, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Graduating nurse Bi Yang is pinned by her husband Zhijie Du during the College of the Canyons nurses graduation ceremony held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Saturday, JUNE 06, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

The graduates, according to Nursing Program Director Mary Corbett, had completed the required amount of coursework and clinical training despite the pandemic, now heading off into a field that is fighting the very same pandemic that challenged their educational growth.

“I’m unbelievably proud,” said Corbett. “They have shown resilience and flexibility in a time of great challenge. We are, all of COC nursing and the campus as a whole, celebrating these students because this is not an easy program of study under any means.”

“But with all the changes and transitions that went on, the flexibility and commitment that they’ve shown is incredible,” she added.

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