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Gavilan College announced that it will move forward with its commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 but the celebration won’t take place until the end of the year.

Jan Bernstein Chargin, director of public information at Gavilan, issued a press release on June 2 that said the new plan is to have smaller commencement ceremonies from Dec. 19-21. She said that students were surveyed to determine their preferences among a virtual ceremony, a delayed in-person ceremony or some other option.

“They indicated a strong preference for the opportunity to wait and walk across the stage in person,” Bernstein Chargin said. 

The Class of 2020 also made history by becoming the college’s 100th graduating class. Bernstein Chargin said the Centennial Commencement Celebration was planned throughout the year as something very special.

Eloy Oakley, the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, had been scheduled to deliver the keynote address. Funds had been budgeted for the stage, sound system and 5,000 chairs for attendees. 

“As the Shelter-in-Place orders went into effect and then continued it became apparent that this would not be possible,” Bernstein Chargin said.

On April 17, Gavilan Superintendent and President Dr. Kathleen Rose sent a letter to notify graduates that there would be no in-person commencement. However, more than 1,000 students petitioned for a delayed ceremony and she responded.

“lt is my promise to you that we will host your graduation ceremony on the Gavilan College campus and you will have the opportunity to cross the stage, receive your diploma and mark this milestone with friends and family,” Rose said.

The Class of 2020 made more history by being the largest graduating class at Gavilan with 970 graduates earning 1,540 degrees and certificates. 

According to California Community Colleges, community colleges over the past two years have increased the number of students who earn college credentials by 20 percent. 

In the 2018-19 academic year, the number of students who earned a college credential at community colleges stood at 140,335, up from just under 117,000 from the previous year. 

Gavilan held a virtual end-of-year celebration on May 22 that included special messages to the graduates, the scrolling of graduate names to the music of Pomp and Circumstance and the announcement of awards.

Rose said in her opening remarks that Covid-19 was the second pandemic event in the history of the college, which was founded as San Benito Junior College in 1919. 

A virtual pinning ceremony was held at the end of May for the graduates in the Registered Nursing program. All graduates who return for the commencement ceremony in December will receive a commemorative program, a Centennial diploma folio and a Centennial graduation stole.

Class of 2020 by the Numbers (contributed by Gavilan College)

  • 970 graduates
  • 1540 degrees and certificates awarded, including
    • 148 Associate of Science Degrees for Transfer (top major – Business Administration)
    • 162 Associate of Science degrees (top major – Health Science)
    • 148 Associate of Art Degrees for Transfer (top major – Psychology)
    • 206 Associate Degrees (top major – Liberal Arts – Multiple Subjects)
    • 719 Certificates of Achievement (top major – Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum)
    • 70 Certificates of Proficiency (top major – Nursing Assistant)
    • 73 Noncredit Certificates of Completion (top major – English as a Second Language Advanced Level)
    • 7 Awards of Achievement, Career Preparation
  • 125 Police Academy graduates
  • 18 Licensed Vocational Nurses
  • 22 Registered Nurses

Recognition and Awards

  • Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society – Lifetime Membership
    • Lyric Medrano
    • Mikayla Gomez
    • Victoria Zuniga
    • Mariam Hernandez Mendoza
    • Jesse Rodarte
  • Transfer Student Award: Kashika Bharol, AA Liberal Arts – Business, AA Liberal Arts – Natural Science, AA Liberal Arts – Multiple Subjects
  • Career Technical Education Award: Emmaclaudia Terraforte, AS Health Science
  • Recognition of Achievement AwardL Mariam Hernandez, AS Biological Science, AA Liberal Arts – Natural Science
  • Outstanding Scholar Awards – 
    • Gavilan College Student: Matissa Meranda Miller, AA-T Psychology, 4.0 GPA
    • GECA Student graduating from Gavilan College: Bettye Chargin, AA Liberal Arts – Multiple Subjects, 4.0 GPA
  • Retiring Faculty and Staff
    • Leah Halper, History
    • Sandra Talavera, Financial Aid
    • Margaret Bryson, Computer Science and Information Systems
    • Russel Malley, Biology
    • Duane Stewart, Groundskeeper
    • Deborah Luoma, English
    • Michale Cleary, Counselor
  • Outgoing President, Associated Students of Gavilan College: Mariam Hernandez
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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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