MOSES LAKE — Family, friends, faculty and students gathered at Lions Field on Friday to celebrate Big Bend Community College’s 2019 graduation ceremony. Smiles and cheers were abundant as 493 graduates, ranging from 17 to 60 years old, were awarded over 500 degrees.
The 2019 graduating class hailed from all across the state, country, and globe. Graduates came from 78 cities in Washington, 10 states across the country, and even Canada and South Korea.
State Rep. Alex Ybarra, R-Quincy, addressed the graduates at the ceremony. After congratulating the students, Ybarra spoke to the graduates about the powers of encouragement. The son of migrant workers, Ybarra said he struggled with English and reading throughout grade school, hindering his education. The encouragement of an eighth-grade math teacher helped Ybarra overcome, and helped him reach the goals he’s achieved today.
“Whether you end up in the boardroom, classroom, operating room or conference room, encouraging others will greatly expand your effectiveness, not to mention your influence as a friend and family member,” Ybarra said.
Student body president Cydney Schaapman spoke to her fellow graduates about keeping up their momentum as they move toward their next steps in life.
“It’s now time to be focused on our future, and our next challenge or goal,” Schaapman said. “Because getting our degree is just the beginning. We are on the path to even greater opportunities and success. And we are not alone.”
115 graduates on Friday were involved in the Running Start program, which partners with local high schools in the area for students to take college level courses. These students have worked to both achieve a high school diploma and an associate degree over the last two years.
Wyatt Haase attended Odessa High School and took part in this program, receiving his degree in Arts & Science on Friday. Haase plans to attend Eastern Washington University to complete the radiation therapy program there.
“I’m really excited to have this part done, but definitely a lot more steps,” Haase said.
Lindsey Groce teaches chemistry at Big Bend and spoke about the pride that comes with watching students completing this part of their journey.
“They put in so much hard work,” Groce said. “I’m just really proud to see everything they’ve accomplished. It’s just the culmination of a lot of hard work.”
Various degrees received by graduates included Arts and Science (298 graduates), Applied Science (125), Business Transfer (26), Pre-nursing Transfer (18), Associate of Science (15), General Studies (22), and Applied Science Transfer (7).