Resiliency was the resounding theme at this year’s Allan Hancock College commencement ceremony, where 500 graduates in the college’s centennial class celebrated their achievements during a drive-through celebration Friday.
A vehicle procession of students and family members made its way through Allan Hancock’s campus in Santa Maria during two ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Graduates exited their vehicles to receive their diploma on an outdoor stage and snap a photo with Superintendent and President Dr. Kevin G. Walthers before returning to their car.
As each graduate’s name was announced, muted cheers and horns honking could be heard from afar.
After an unprecedented year for college students around the world, Allan Hancock’s commencement speakers praised the Class of 2021 for rising to the occasion and excelling in their studies during unpredictable times. All of this year’s speeches were pre-recorded and could be viewed through the commencement livestream on the school’s website and social media pages.
“If you’re graduating now, it says something about how resilient you are, making it through to the finish line through this last year of chaos and fear,” Kathy Headtke, the college’s librarian, said in her remarks. “You’re our leaders of tomorrow who will take us into the future.”
Lennette Espinoza, a 2021 graduate and student body president, echoed a similar sentiment during her commencement speech. She expressed gratitude for the chance to witness “resilience from the driven community of students” at Allan Hancock.
“What you have done was in no way easy,” Ms. Espinoza said. “Every single graduate here truly wears their cap and gown like armor for their true valor. This moment is yours.”
Allan Hancock’s Class of 2021 is composed of 1,498 graduates who earned more than 2,700 degrees. Veterans, DREAMers, first-generation college students and essential workers were all represented in this year’s graduating class.
During his commencement speech, Dr. Walthers praised graduates for their accomplishments and expressed confidence that the class of 2021 is “poised for greatness.”
“For every graduate in 2021, all 1,400 of them, there are multiple stories of hard work, sacrifice, turmoil and probably some times of panic,” Dr. Walthers said. “Our student leaders have set a high bar for those who follow them, but they have also paved the way for a new set of leaders who are ready to make a positive impact on our community.”
“This may be the end of your journey at Hancock, but the ending is just the beginning of a new adventure,” he added.