College of the Canyons will host Grad Walk from June 2-5 to celebrate its 2021 graduates. The new take on commencement is a “personalized graduation experience,” according to Eric Harnish, the college’s public information officer.
“It gives (graduates) an opportunity to return to campus and celebrate their accomplishments as they graduate,” he said, noting that the feedback from students has been very positive. “We do plan to have college staff on hand to celebrate with our graduates at an appropriate distance.”
The college is also hosting in-person graduations this past week and next for William S. Hart Union High School District students who are having their commencements at Cougar Stadium on COC’s campus.
Harnish said over 600 of this year’s 2,360 COC graduates have signed up for Grad Walk, which will be taking place in the Valencia campus’s Honor Grove between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. on each of the four days in the first week of June.
“We wanted to offer a variety of times and days to accommodate as many students as possible and make sure that if students are working or have other commitments that they can still participate,” Harnish said.
The college did not hold any in-person ceremonies last year due to restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last year, everything was virtual and almost came to a complete halt,” said COC Trustee Joan MacGregor. “It’s definitely an improvement this year, and it’ll be even better next year.”
COC ‘s governing board is likely to consider changes to commencement as the college’s student body continues to grow, according to MacGregor, who will be participating in some of the ceremonies next week.
“I feel it’s unfortunate we can’t get everybody together and have one big graduation like we have had for many, many years,” she said. “On the other hand, this will give everyone an opportunity to celebrate the way they feel most comfortable.”
Trustee Sebastian Cazares, a recent COC graduate, recalled the difficulties around graduation in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic last year.
“I know a lot of individuals felt like they were left in the dark and they weren’t sure what was going on with graduation,” Cazares said regarding last year, noting he’s heard limited feedback about graduation from students this year.
Graduation ceremonies have been held throughout the month of May for different COC departments and program areas. Students participating in COC’s commencement can view to pre-recorded traditional ceremony speeches online.