Mendocino College is finding ways to celebrate its 2020 graduates in light of Shelter in Place restrictions, which have forced the postponement of this year’s commencement ceremony, originally scheduled for May 22.
In April, a survey was sent to all graduating students to gather input about how best to move forward given the situation. The overwhelming response from students was that they preferred to postpone the ceremony until large gatherings are allowed, instead of hosting a virtual ceremony.
“We felt it was imperative to hear from graduating students about how they wanted to be celebrated during this special time in their lives,” said Mendocino College Interim Superintendent/President Eileen Cichocki. “I am deeply sorry that our commencement ceremony will not be able to proceed as planned. Commencement is my favorite day of the year, it is a culmination of the college mission and so rewarding to see students celebrating their tremendous achievements with their families, friends, and faculty who supported them along the way. I look forward to celebrating with our students when large gatherings are once again allowed.”
For some, graduation is a milestone that marks the end of a chapter. For others, it is symbolic of everything they have overcome. According to Gabriel Baca who is graduating this semester with an Associate of Science in Mathematics for Transfer and an Associate of Arts in Political Science for Transfer, "The commencement ceremony is the day that students' hard work pays off; celebrating alongside graduating friends and seeing the joyous tears in their families' eyes makes all that stress and those tireless nights of studying worth the sacrifice.”
Thanks to the Mendocino College Foundation, students are being gifted a $50 dinner voucher to be used on May 22 at a select group of participating local restaurants throughout the district. This will allow students to celebrate the actual day of graduation with a meal at home while at the same time supporting local restaurants during this time of reduced business. “Public health and safety do come first, so I am thankful that I can still mark the occasion with my family while we wait for that glorious celebration. I think the graduate lawn sign and dinner voucher are great ways for the college to help keep that spirit of achievement and recognition alive,” says Baca. The Foundation has also provided funding to place banners throughout the district, including over State Street in downtown Ukiah, as well as yard signs for students to post in front of their homes to boast their achievements. There will also be a listing of all 2020 graduates in a special magazine published by the Ukiah Daily Journal that will be circulated in both Lake and Mendocino Counties.
According to Mendocino College Foundation Board President Tom Dow, “The Foundation is honored to provide financial support towards this year’s commencement activities. Now more than ever, it’s important that we sufficiently honor and recognize our 2020 Mendocino College Graduates.”