TBCC Connections: A Graduation Celebration Like No Other

Graduation day at Tillamook Bay Community College is a special time for our students, our staff, and our faculty. It’s also an important day for the families of our students who have supported them during their educational journey and are excited for the opportunity to celebrate in their success.

Last year we had to cancel our in-person graduation ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions, but we promised those students that when we could hold a formal graduation again they would get their opportunity to celebrate. That day was Friday, June 18, when we recognized both the 2020 and 2021 graduating students.

Besides having both classes in this ceremony, it was even more special because it was the first TBCC graduation ever to be held outside and on the College campus! In addition, the ceremony was broadcast in both English and Spanish on KTIL and live-streamed on Facebook. We heard there were viewers from as far away as Mexico, who otherwise would not have been able to participate.

For the 2020 class, we had a record number of graduates: 72 total, with 14 that walked at the ceremony.  For the 2021 class we had 69 graduating students, with 29 present. The weather was perfect, and the students, faculty and staff sat outside below the stage, which was a 40-foot covered trailer donated by the Denny Pastega.  Families and friends were in their cars in the parking lot and were able to get out to take pictures of their graduate as they walked across the stage.

Between the two classes, we conferred 237 degrees and certificates with many graduates earning multiple degrees/certificates. Twenty percent of our graduates earned a Career-Technical degree or certificate, 54% earned a Transfer degree, and 26% earned a non-credit training certificate, which includes Phlebotomy and Truck Driving. Our youngest graduate was 17 years old and our oldest was 68, with 34% being over the age of 30.  Overall, 61% of our graduates this year were women!

We had 39 graduates between both classes that had previously taken college dual credit courses while in high school. That program is growing in Tillamook County at all three high schools.  This year alone, TBCC awarded over 2,300 credits to dual credit high school students, saving those families more than $266,000 in tuition and fees.

Our guest graduation speaker this year was Representative David Gomberg, who represents District 10 in the Oregon State Legislature, which includes Tillamook County up to Third St. in Tillamook.  Rep. Gomberg shared his inspiring story of his journey that led to the state legislature.  Our student speaker was Stephanie Verdin who had an equally inspiring message for her fellow graduating students. Stephanie is a 2020 TBCC graduate who is already halfway toward her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at Western Oregon University.

We also had 14 graduates between the two classes that earned highest honors (Summa Cum Laude), with 41 graduates overall earning an honors chord.

It was a wonderful event as usual, being my favorite day of the year working at a community college. All of us at the college are very proud of our graduates and wish them the very best as they move on to the next life challenge.  Congratulations to all our new TBCC Alumni!

Special thanks goes out to Denny Pastega, Don Averill, Zwald Trucking, Tillamook Coliseum Theater, and Tillamook Rotary for their generosity and support for the stage, ramping, viewing area, and event parking. We truly could not have done it without their volunteer support.

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