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With a 15.8 percent increase in the number of students receiving degrees compared to last year, College of the Canyons will honor its 2017 graduating class – the largest in school history — during the college’s 48th annual commencement ceremony. The ceremony will begin at 8:00 a.m. Friday, June 2, in the college’s Honor Grove, located on the Valencia campus.

“We are proud to honor the accomplishments, hard work and success of the members of the College of the Canyons class of 2017,” said College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook. “Commencement is a celebration of their efforts, as well an opportunity to acknowledge the faculty, staff and administrators who are passionately committed to meeting the needs of our students and helping them succeed. ”

A number of new initiatives at College of the Canyons have helped bolster student success and enabled students to achieve their educational goals.

To remove the cost of textbooks as a barrier for students, COC has expanded the use of Open Educational Resources (OER), teaching and learning materials that have been released in the public domain or under an intellectual property license as a no-cost alternative to costly commercial textbooks.

The college’s “Accelerate Your Dreams to Reality” project nearly triples students’ chances of completing college-level courses by introducing the accelerated Math 75 and English 96 courses.

These accelerated courses have already helped save more than 600,000 hours of remedial instruction and more than $1.6 million in tuition costs for remedial courses that are not applicable toward earning associate degrees.

And, launching in the fall, First Year Promise (FYP) will offer 300 full-time freshman students waived tuition and fees during their first year of study.

“Our focus on meeting the needs of our community and making a college education more accessible is making a real difference in what our students can achieve,” Dr. Van Hook said.

The class of 2017 has 2046 students who petitioned for graduation, representing a 15.8 percent increase from the class of 2016 (1,766).

This class represents 110 majors, with liberal arts and sciences (533) ranking as the leading field of study among graduates, followed by accounting (238), psychology (232), sociology (148), mathematics (131) and communication studies (108).

There are also 91 students graduating with two or more degrees.

The class of 2017 is approximately 58 percent female (1,183) and 42 percent male (863).

Academically, there are 496 students graduating with honors — which requires a 3.5 GPA or higher — and 34 students with perfect 4.0 GPAs, which grants them the status of valedictorians at the college. The average GPA of the class of 2017 is 3.13.

The average age of a COC graduate is 25. The oldest student in the class is 77-year-old graduate Brita Murphy. In total, there are seven graduates over the age of 60.

In addition, the youngest graduate in the class is 16-year-old Giana Cespedes.

Notably, there are also 79 veteran graduates in the college’s class of 2017.

There are 43 graduates from the school’s Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) program, which is the largest graduating cohort in MESA history.

Additionally, nearly 73 percent of this year’s graduates have completed at least one course at the college’s Canyon Country campus, which first opened in 2007.

This year’s graduating class also includes 97 COC student-athletes who will be earning an associate degree and/or transferring to a four-year school in the fall.

Graduates from the class of 2017 will be heading to four-year schools including: John Hopkins University, University of London Pharmacy School, Chapman University, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Colorado State University, University of Texas at El Paso, Brigham Young University, UC Berkeley, California Lutheran University, San Diego State University, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, USC, University of San Diego, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Pomona, CSU Northridge, CSU Bakersfield, CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU Humboldt, CSU East Bay, CSU Channel Islands, CSU Los Angeles, CSU Monterey Bay, CSU San Francisco, CSU Long Beach, CSU San Jose, CSU Fullerton, CSU San Marcos, and CSU San Diego.

“This year’s graduating class proves that with a positive attitude, and the right amount of tenacity and passion, anything is possible at COC,” said Van Hook.

The scene of many graduations and other college ceremonies and events, the COC Honor Grove is located in the center of campus and will be outfitted with a stage for the presentation of diplomas and certificates, as well as seating for the graduates and the proud families and friends who will be in attendance.

Community members attending the ceremony should plan to arrive to campus no later than 7:45 a.m., as parking lots are expected to be congested and guest seating will be limited.