MOSES LAKE — Big Bend Community College celebrated the accomplishments of nearly 500 graduates during the college’s 2020 Commencement Ceremony Friday. This year’s ceremony took place completely online, making it the school’s first-ever virtual celebration.
The 495 members of the Class of 2020 earned a total of 525 degrees and included graduates from 33 cities and towns across the state of Washington. Other states represented in the graduating class include Idaho, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah.
“Class of 2020, this is not the graduation you expected. There is no staged handshakes or high-fiving with your fellow graduates,” said BBCC president Terry Leas. “Nonetheless, you did the work and you earned your diploma or degree. We are so proud of you and your accomplishments.”
Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges chairman Dr. Wayne Martin addressed the 2020 class. Martin was the first person in his immediate family to attend college and shared some of the challenges he encountered along the way. He stressed the importance of learning to embrace change and using it to your advantage.
“Don’t be afraid to change. Change your thoughts, change your actions, do correct course when you need to,” said Martin. “I also encourage you to become a change agent. Take your certificate and your degree and become a thought leader, an action taker. With an education, you have more power in this world than many other people.”
Big Bend ASB President Madison Shrope also spoke during the virtual ceremony. She congratulated her fellow graduates for working hard to make it to graduation day, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year is unique, as we are the first graduating class to have a virtual ceremony,” said Shrope. “Through these unprecedented times we have fought through more adversity than we ever expected and yet here we are, graduating despite it all.”
Shrope said celebrating during this year’s virtual ceremony was bittersweet.
“I think for this year’s graduation, we made the best out of our circumstances. While social distancing with my family and friends we watched the graduation, celebrated with a BBQ, and had lots of fun,” said Shrope. “Obviously, I wish we could have had a real graduation but I am very thankful for the fact that all the 2020 graduates still got to be recognized for their success.”