KLAMATH FALLS — Klamath Community College awarded diplomas on Friday, June 10, to a crowd of graduates, who were supported by their families on the KCC lawn offering hearty congratulations.
After two years of hybrid live-streaming and limited in-person ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Friday’s commencement ceremony served as both a celebration of the graduates, and the ability to overcome the added burdens of higher education pursuits amidst unexpectedly lengthy health restrictions. Graduation activities were also live-streamed online for students and families unable to attend in-person.
Following a presentation of colors by the Oregon Air National Guard, a rendition of the national anthem by Alyssa DeFillipo, and an invocation by pastor Jim Boyd, KCC President Dr. Roberto Gutierrez welcomed the large crowd to KCC.
“It has been awhile, not having face-to-face, this is so good to see all of you,” said Gutierrez. “For many of you, your college experience has resulted in something much more than a degree, it is a chance for a new beginning – a pathway to approach opportunity and change.”
Diplomas were distributed by program, with each program lead taking a turn at the microphone to announce graduates’ names. Included among the hundreds of graduates were 10 high school students achieving the impressive feat of receiving their associate degree and high school diploma simultaneously, along with an additional 19 high school students who received pathway certificates – most for KCC’s Digital Media Design program.
The featured keynote speaker was David Cauble, CEO of Sky Lakes Medical Center. He reflected on the accomplishment of students completing their degrees despite the added difficulties imposed by COVID-19, and on his personal memories of his graduation 28 years prior, while also offering advice.
“We experience the greatest growth when we are willing to explore the unknown, and stretch ourselves in new ways,” advised Cauble. “And when we inevitably fail, and we will fail, we have the opportunity to learn and grow.”
KCC Vice President of Student Affairs Gail Schull highlighted the personal stories of two graduates: Tricia Gardner and Paul Monteith. Gardner was identified for not only graduating with honors, but doing so alongside her daughter who also collected her associate degree. Monteith, who works as a teacher’s assistant with the KCC Welding program, and also operates a 501c3 aimed at rehabilitation and peer support with careers for individuals in recovery from drug FOR abuse or recent incarceration, was noted for his community efforts and expansion of his Tayas Yawks nonprofit. He will participate later this month at the statewide InventOR innovation and entrepreneurial competition in Grants Pass, representing KCC among approximately 40 other collegiate teams.
KCC Director of Retention and Student Success Oscar Herrera was also honored as this year’s “KCC Employee Who Made a Difference in the Lives of Students” – a recognition determined by anonymous student vote. Several personal stories were shared about how Herrera had gone above and beyond to help students accomplish their goals.
In total 210 students received diplomas and pathway certificates in the festivities, after which time graduates and families were invited to a reception complete with gifts, food, and a photo booth for photos to commemorate the occasion.
KCC will host an additional graduation ceremony for its Klamath Center for Education & Training (KCET) students at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 21. To view video of the Class of 2022 Klamath Community College commencement ceremony, visit www.klamathcc.edu/watch-commencement.