The Peralta Community College District (PCCD) prepares for virtual and in-person celebrations for the graduating class of 2022. Each college will host its own commencement ceremonies and graduations to honor its students’ accomplishments.

 

May 22, 2022

By Pamela Samuels, Staff Writer

As Spring 2022 will soon come to a close, the Peralta Community College District will host its Virtual Commencements and In-Person celebrations across the four campuses of Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College, and Merritt College to celebrate the graduating Class of 2022. Though each campus is putting its own unique spin on the events, they all have one goal in mind: to recognize each graduating student for their accomplishments and celebrate them as they achieve this milestone.

Berkeley City College (BCC) will be honoring its students with both a Virtual Commencement Ceremony and a Post-Commencement Celebration. The Virtual Commencement Ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. on May 26, 2022, hosted live on the Peralta Community College District’s YouTube channel. 

The Virtual Commencement Ceremony will follow a traditional format with various speakers and individual slides for each graduating student while acknowledging their degrees, certificates, and awards. 

The Post-Commencement Celebration will be in-person from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on May 27, 2022. This celebration is limited to 2 guests per student and will be located at Merritt College’s parking lot “C”, 12500 Campus Dr, Oakland, CA 94619.

Veronica Montoya, Director of Hispanic Serving Institutions at BCC and John Nguyen, Director of Student Activities & Campus Life, are encouraging students to wear their caps and gowns for the Post-Commencement Celebration. There will be photo opportunities which will include photos with the Interim Chancellor Jannett Jackson, College President Angelica Garcia, and others from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on May 27, 2022. 

“The in-person celebration will be more about the students coming together and celebrating with their family, friends, faculty, staff, and administration,” Nguyen shared, adding that students “will be able to pick up their diploma cover, free gifts, and just really celebrate the festivities with music and free food.” 

BCC will be providing the graduates with their graduation tassel, diploma cover, and a zipper pull that reflects the college colors as gifts for the students.

The Citizen asked Montoya why the college chose to schedule the commencement ceremony virtually.

“Our main point and main focus are to really celebrate the students and the students’ accomplishments. We haven’t had that opportunity for the last couple of years, so we really wanted to enhance that experience for them,” Montoya explained. 

“We actually now have in essence two different events, right? The commencement itself and then the post-commencement celebration,” Montoya said.

“The post-commencement celebration is really that, it’s a celebration. It’s outdoors, so we will have music, we will have a DJ, and they can bring their families. The whole point of it is to be community-driven. Who can turn down a taco from the taco truck after all?”

According to Nguyen, there are 637 students who have petitioned and been approved for graduation. For specific questions, please contact John Nguyen at [email protected]. For general commencement and graduation information, Nguyen recommended referring to the  2022 Commencement Information – Graduation and the berkeleycitycollege.edu for ongoing updates. All Berkeley City College Class of 2022 graduates should pick up their diplomas during the Fall 2022 semester on campus with the admissions and records department.

The College of Alameda (CoA) will be celebrating its students with a Virtual Commencement Ceremony and an in-person event entitled the CoA GradFest. The Virtual Commencement Ceremony will be at 10 a.m. on May 27, 2022, and available for viewing on the COA graduation webpage

Each graduate’s name, degree, and any certificates they have earned will be professionally announced and presented on an individual slide during the live video. 

The CoA GradFest will take place on campus from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 27, 2022. Each student may invite two guests to attend the in-person celebration with them.

Natalie Rodriguez, Director of Student Activities & Campus Life, gave The Citizen an overview of the virtual ceremony. 

“The virtual commencement will have traditional elements which will include speeches, acknowledgment of the student, special awards, keynote speaker. Those things of this nature will be pre-recorded by PCCD TV with streaming on our commencement webpage that Friday morning at 10 am,” Rodriguez explained.  

The in-person celebration on campus will not be a traditional graduation ceremony. There will be photo opportunities, and even activities such as decorating graduation caps, stations of celebration by the campus bookstore, support program services, and grab-and-go gifts for the graduates. 

Students are welcome to wear their graduation attire. If students haven’t had an opportunity to pick up their caps and gowns at the campus bookstore prior to the celebration, they still have time to do so. 

The grand finale will be one of the photo opportunities throughout the day, with a nice graduation backdrop encased by balloons and a traditional graduation photo-op with a diploma cover provided by the College of Alameda. 

A fun twist CoA found to highlight the in-person event is to offer students a chance to drive through and decorate their cars while on campus. There will be a designated area in one of the parking lots where students can stop and decorate their cars prior to continuing on through the procession.

Rodriguez emphatically stated, “I really encourage students who are eligible to participate both online and in-person. Come join us, as we are excited about having this opportunity, although not through a traditional ceremony; but to be able to celebrate our graduates in person in some way. It’s very exciting, it’s telling of our times, but we also have folks who are invested in making our students feel special. I am hopeful that our CoA GradFest will be able to demonstrate our love for the students in that way.”

Rodriguez explained that there are approximately 300 students who will be eligible to graduate this year. There are a few students still pending completion of six units or less. 

“We are choosing to honor our graduates with a virtual commencement because it is in line with the District regulations. For those with accessibility needs or students who do not drive, they will be able to walk up, and then we will either have a go-cart or some kind of our own transportation, where we can drive the students around who need it” Rodriguez stated. 

The College of Alameda Class of 2022 will be able to pick up their degrees during the Fall 2022 semester. They may contact admissions and records if they need to make arrangements for receiving their degree by mail. Questions of specific nature may contact Natalie Rodriguez at [email protected]. For commencement and CoA GradFest information, students should refer to the CoA graduation webpage for ongoing updates.

Laney College invites its students to celebrate their upcoming graduation with two events. The Virtual Commencement Ceremony will be on May 27, 2022, at 3 p.m. The YouTube link prepared by the Peralta TV team will stream live on the Laney College graduation webpage. The Virtual Commencement will include congratulatory speeches, graduate slides showcasing their degrees, certificates, awards, photos, and quotes if chosen to submit. 

A Post-Commencement Celebration will be held as an in-person event at the Laney College Fieldhouse parking area from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 27, 2022. Each student is welcome to bring 2 guests.  Please note that this is a standing-only event, with attendees encouraged to cycle through the celebration in a timely manner.

Atiya Rashada, Director of Student Activities & Campus Life, explained what the students should expect at the Post-Commencement Celebration. 

“Essentially they will walk in and follow a large U-shape of grab-and-go activities. At the end of the loop, there will be a couple of photo opportunities that will be provided so that they can take some photos and even a selfie station,” Rashada explained. 

Students will loop around and receive their diploma cover handed out by the President and an opportunity to take a photo with him and the Laney College backdrop. 

“We are focused on creating a moment for the students to have that photo graduation memory. Finally, they will finish the walk-through with each graduate receiving a gift and then proceeding to pick up their food on the way out,” Rashada said.  

“Our goal is for the students to come and potentially have an in-person experience, then make it home with their meal. They can take their food home with them, and they can sit and watch the virtual commencement,” Rashada stated.

Rashada said that Laney College has made “great efforts” in inviting the entire Laney College community in the hopes that people will attend and support the students. They are encouraging the faculty and staff to attend and assist in creating a festival of celebration for the students. 

All faculty and administrators are welcome to host a table, decorate, or just come and be present in order to cheer the students through the post-commencement in-person celebration. 

“Each moment moves you forward, and each moment represents a new opportunity. You have made the most of each moment,” Rashada explained when asked how students should reflect on the graduation event.

The graduates of Laney College, Class of 2022 will consist of 736 graduates taking home a total of 1102 awarded degrees. These students will receive a letter with information on where to pick up their diplomas, available in the Fall of 2022.

Students should refer to [email protected] for commencement and graduation celebration information. It is recommended that students check back to this email for ongoing updates.

Merritt College kicks off its commencement and graduation celebration with two events. An In-Person Graduation Celebration will take place at 1 p.m. on May 25, 2022, at Merritt College’s parking lot “C”, 12500 Campus Dr, Oakland, CA 94619.

Students should check Merritt College’s graduation link for clarity as to what time they should arrive to line up in preparation to cross the stage. Students who graduated in 2020 and 2021 are also invited to attend the In-Person Graduation Celebration. If they choose to attend, they will walk across the stage and be acknowledged with the class of 2022 graduates. Each student may invite two  guests to celebrate with them.

All graduates participating in the In-Person Graduation Celebration are required to wear their caps and gowns. Students enrolled at Merritt College’s EOPS, CARE, CalWORKs, and Next Up programs are eligible for assistance with purchasing their caps and gowns and should contact the relevant program for more information.

The Virtual Commencement Ceremony will be hosted live on the Peralta Community College District’s YouTube channel at 6 p.m. on May 26, 2022. The class of 2020 and the class of 2021 will not participate in the virtual commencement. 

Doris Hankins, Director of Student Activities & Campus Life shared additional details about the virtual ceremony. 

“The Virtual Commencement Ceremony will have the same feel as a traditional commencement, except that it will be done in the comfort of their home and with their family, or if they want to have an event on their own with those that they are familiar with while allowing them to stay safe,” Hankins explained. 

“Some people have three people in their family and some people have twenty-five who want to celebrate with them,” she continued, adding that the college has “seen students doing creative ways of doing that, virtually or in person.” 

The virtual commencement will include the introduction of the graduates, individual graduate slides that will encompass their picture, name, any degrees or certificates accomplished, and recognized awards. In addition, there will be various student and congratulatory speakers.

Hankins also shared their thoughts on the in-person celebration. 

“We realize this is not the Paramount. It’s not the traditional setting, but since it’s on campus we wanted to have a homey feel. All graduates will line up as they would have at the Paramount, and they will be socially distanced to make sure everybody’s safe,” Hankins said. 

“The students will walk across the stage and get their names called, as well as receive their diploma cover. We are still working on the program, but we are very excited about that,” Hankins explained.

The in-person graduation celebration will include music, food, pictures, and giveaways for our EOPS, CARE, CalWORKs, and Next Up programs. 

“I’m excited to actually be planning something in-person for the students. It has been a tough couple of years. I’m excited to see that we have students still persevering and I think that is a huge testament to our students. It’s not easy trying to do everything online, especially if you are a social person who prefers to do things face to face,” Hankins stated.

Hankins confirmed that the Merritt College Class of 2022 has over 680 students registered for the 2022 Virtual Commencement Ceremony. These graduates will be able to receive their diploma in the mail or pick it up during the Fall 2022 semester. In addition, students will receive a commencement program with their diplomas.

Students should expect to receive an email asking them to verify their mailing address for receipt of the commencement program and the diploma. For direct questions regarding commencement and graduation information, please email Merritt Student Activities at [email protected]. All students should continue to reference the Merritt webpage and the college’s graduation page as the updates will be placed on both links.

Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College, and Merritt College will be following the District safety protocol. Though the In-Person events will be held outside, masks must be worn at all times. Exceptions to mask requirements will be made while graduates and family members take pictures. 

Students will have to demonstrate that they have been cleared to be on campus and should be prepared to be screened by BrightStar. Guests will not be asked for vaccination proof, but they too will be required to wear a mask. 

All students are encouraged to check their relevant campus websites for ongoing updates for both their Virtual Commencement Ceremonies and In-Person celebrations.

For information regarding the commencement ceremonies and celebrations refer to the following:

Berkeley City College:

Questions of specific nature should be directed to John Nguyen at [email protected].

For general commencement and graduation celebration information, students should refer to 2022 Commencement Information – Graduation and berkeleycitycollege.edu for ongoing updates.

College of Alameda:

Questions of specific nature should be directed to Natalie Rodriguez at [email protected]

For general commencement and CoA GradFest information, students should refer to the CoA graduation webpage for ongoing updates.

Laney College:

Questions of specific nature should be directed to Laney Student Activities at [email protected].

For general commencement and graduation celebration information, students should refer to the Laney College graduation webpage for ongoing updates.

Merritt College:

Questions of specific nature should be directed to Merritt Student Activities at [email protected].

For general commencement and graduation celebration information, students should refer to the Merritt webpage and the college’s graduation page for ongoing updates.