Golden West College Celebrates 50th Graduating Class at Commencement Ceremony

four graduates on stage

On Thursday, May 25th, 2017, Golden West College hosted its 50th commencement ceremony in the school’s central quad. After the GWC Police Academy Class 154 presented the flags, ASGWC President Javier Venegas led the Pledge of Allegiance. Next, the GWC Chamber singers and Student Brass Quintet performed a special arrangement of the “Star Spangled Banner” while members of the Class of 2017 Interpreter Training Program provided musical interpretation.

President Wes Bryan

President Wes Bryan

President Bryan welcomed the over-flowing crowd to the campus to celebrate the 50th graduating class and culmination of a year of festivities. “You get to be here today because you did college right.” Bryan continued, “You get to be here today because of the support provided by faculty, family and friends, because we never do college alone.” He invited the graduates to get their cell phones out and take a selfie of themselves with the crowd as a reminder of the enormous support system they all had. President Bryan went on to honor GWC student veterans in attendance and thanked them for their service to our country. President Bryan pointed out the flags flying around the quad. “Along with the American flag flying during graduation, I would like to call your attention to the other flags that surround us as well,” he said. “These flags represent some of the countries of our international students.” He explained that 29 students from the international program, representing 10 different countries were receiving Associate of Arts or Science degrees, with two receiving Career Certificates of Achievement.

Shaniah Branson

Shaniah Branson, R. Dudley Boyce Outstanding Student

Fran Faraz, GWC Peace Studies professor introduced the R. Dudley Boyce Outstanding Student of the Year, Shaniah Branson. Branson shared words of wisdom with the crowd and thanked those that assisted in her journey through Golden West. “We have yet to do anything as this is only a stepping stone,” Shaniah said, “in our path to great things. Graduation is not the end, it is only just the beginning.”

Puente graduate Max Ronquillo introduced keynote speaker Eloy Oakley, GWC alumnus and current California Community Colleges Chancellor. Oakley thanked President Bryan for inviting him back to his alma mater. He shared his experiences while attending Golden West with the crowd. “I finally figured out the value of education while attending GWC. The reason I go to work every day is because of the experiences here at Golden West,” he said. “Always remember where you came from and who gave you your start. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the faculty at GWC.” Before the reading of the names began, Board of Trustee president David A. Grant, honored long-time GWC supporter Judy Elmore with an honorary degree and thanked her for her years of support to the college.

Chancellor Eloy Oakley

Chancellor Eloy Oakley

This year, GWC recognized 1,576 students who received an Associates Degree and/or Certificates of Achievement. There were 196 students graduating with honors, having earned 3.5 GPA or higher and 14 graduates with a perfect 4.0. As Vice Presidents’ Janet Houlihan, Dr. Omid Pourzanjani, and Dr. Claudia Lee read the names, over 325 graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas from Academic Senate President and Professor of Communications Jaima Bennett and 2017 GWC Teacher of the Year Maryam Khakbazan.