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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC Ontario Holds its First Online Graduation

March 12, 2021

On Friday, January 15, 2021, SJVC Ontario held its first online graduation, celebrating 426 graduates who completed their programs in 2020.

A graduation committee began planning the ceremony starting in early November, coordinating logistics such as student participation, video production, technical support, and rehearsal.

The graduation was held via Microsoft Live; students were sent a link to use and share with guests (a separate link was used for the people behind the scenes). A producer cued everything up live.

The event began with pomp and circumstance, followed by the pledge of allegiance by the Criminal Justice: Corrections program instructor and students performing color guard on video. Graduates were then greeted by Davina Cary, Dean of Students and Graduation Chair.

Directors for each respective program presented the Lambda Beta honors. Andria Marrs, Construction Management faculty member, presented the Founders Award.

Eleven of the programs then presented its salutatorians; the twelfth program, respiratory therapy, presented the valedictorian, Maria Castaneda. A recorded video of Ms. Casteneda’s speech was played for her classmates.

“This past year has not been ideal, and we faced many struggles, but this only proves we are all built to adapt, overcome, and improvise in any obstacle life throws at us,” Ms. Casteneda said in her speech. “We should be lucky enough to have overcome this period of life.  Anything is possible and this has been a dream and goal accomplished through the support of family, friends and professors, and SJVC.”

A beautiful slide show with music was then shown in the middle of the ceremony; staff, program leaders, faculty, and students sent in pictures ahead of time.

The graduates were then presented; as each was announced, a PowerPoint slide of their picture— including recognition for awards—was shown.

Shannon Koh, the Campus President, confirmed the degrees.

The ceremony was concluded by Nick Ewell, Academic Dean, who offered final thoughts and quoted Dr. Martin Luther King: “Faith is taking the first step even though you do not see the entire staircase.” Nick encouraged graduates to seek new levels of success and opportunities.

“We had great feedback about the graduation,” says Shannon Koh. “The presenters and graduates seemed happy with it; they said it was to the point and exciting.”

She added that at the beginning of the Covid, it was hard for students to see something as significant as a graduation ceremony being online, but that now, as everyone becomes used to it, students are accepting and embracing this new format—they are excited to be part of it.

“I think graduates were happy to finally have recognition for their accomplishments,” she says. “We’re proud of our students and wanted to make it special for them.”

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