Allan Hancock College celebrated another record-setting year with a total of 1,888 students graduating as part of the college’s class of 2020.
While the college was not able to hold a commencement ceremony in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers marked the occasion with a special video address to students in Hancock’s 99th graduating class.
“Coronavirus has changed everything about the way we conduct our daily lives, and it has certainly changed the way you finished your college career,” said Walthers. “We are so proud of the accomplishment’s you’ve made, and I know that Capt. G. Allan Hancock would also be very proud to see what this college has become.”
This year, 1,888 students earned a record 2,207 associate degrees. The number of student graduates represents an increase of about 48 percent from the previous year, while the number of degrees earned equates to an increase of 23 percent. Students also earned 850 certificates of achievement this year.
“This college is what it is because of the commitments and sacrifices you and your families have made to get here,” said Walthers. “You didn’t just check off some boxes or jump through a bunch of hoops.
“Our faculty have also been with you all the way; helping you write papers, helping you with chemistry experiments and helping to finish your assignments on time and in a way that shows you have really learned what you are studying.”
The increase in graduates and degrees earned is partially due to the college’s roll-out of an automatic degree and certificate awarding program earlier this year. The program allowed some Hancock students to automatically receive a degree if they satisfy all academic and credit requirements.
Previously, those students had to apply for the degrees and certificates. In spring 2020 alone, a total of 535 students were automatically awarded degrees through the new program.
This year, Hancock graduates not only successfully navigated a path to earning their degrees and certificates but overcame a significant disruption to their education caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent shelter-in-place order.
During the spring term, Hancock transitioned the majority of its classes to remote formats and maintained critical student support services such as academic counseling, tutoring, health services and other programs virtually.
“Despite this strange and challenging time for our graduating class of 2020, we should look to our accomplishments and be proud that we not only attained our goals of graduating but we did so in one of the most difficult circumstances,” said Tyler Little, president of the Hancock Associated Student Body Government.
“It was a joint effort. Everyone from the students, to the teachers, to the staff and administrators helped us reach this goal,” said Little, who is graduating with a degree in film and video production. “So now the whole community can look at our class and see that regardless of the obstacles, no matter what was thrown at us — we succeeded,”
Other standout graduates this year include Michael Mensah, captain of AHC’s men’s basketball team; sibling AHC nursing program graduates Alejandra and Max Estrada; Beyond Incarceration Greater Education Club co-founder Arturo “Cheech” Raygoza; and AHC key women’s soccer player Diana De Leon.
“Hancock changed my life because it helped me reach for the stars and make great opportunities for myself,” said De Leon, who earned a full-ride scholarship to Fresno State University. “I’m very grateful for Allan Hancock College and what is has taught me over the past two years.”
In early May, the college postponed the 2020 commencement ceremony and is exploring ways to celebrate graduation safely in person. Currently, the college plans to hold the ceremony in August.
For information and updates about Hancock’s commencement plans, visit www.hancockcollege.edu/graduation.