Los Angeles Mission College will be holding an entirely in-person commencement ceremony for its graduating students for the first time in two years.
Like the other eight schools in the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), LA Mission is eager to resume a live graduation after its 2020 and 2021 commencements were held virtually due to the pandemic.
The commencement will take place on June 7 outdoors, on the campus quad.
LA Mission President Dr. Armida Ornelas said “it feels amazing” to have a live ceremony again.
“[The commencement] isn’t just for the campus and the students. It’s also for the families,” Ornelas said. “Getting to this accomplishment is an entire family effort and you want to bring your folks on campus, have community with everybody, have a celebration. I’m really excited.”
She also sounded determined about having a live event.
“We were ready to come back,” the president said. “There was some discussion; ‘Oh, you know, should there be a Zoom option for those that aren’t ready to come back,’ that kind of stuff. But besides that, we were staying the course.
“We understand the pandemic is not over; we will be cautious, take safety precautions. Like everything else we are doing, it’s constantly a balancing act, trying to encourage engagement with the community and understanding that there may be risks involved. We will be trying to take as many precautionary measures as possible.”
Ornelas said the college hosted a “Culinary Cup” cooking event on May 13 that included Harbor College and Trade Tech students, giving the LA Mission staff and administrators an idea of what it would be like to have a large gathering of people in one spot.
“We were able to host a pretty significant event with no issues,” she said.
The joy of again having a live graduation was also expressed by the LA Mission faculty.
“As a faculty member and a senior counselor for the entire campus for 33 years, I’m very excited to have an in-person graduation again,” said Jose Luis Ramirez, who works with the Extended Opportunity Program & Services (EOPS) at LA Mission College.
“I hope we get close to 1,000 [total graduates] considering that we are one of the smaller colleges,” Ramirez said.
Nearly 470 students have signed up to be part of the ceremony with more expected to participate as the commencement date draws near. Of the total number of students already signed up to attend, Ramirez said about 130 are part of EOPS.
Ludi Villegas-Vidal, dean of student services and co-chair of the ceremony committee, said the college has been planning the event since February, after receiving the green light from LACCD Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez.
“It’s very important for [the students] to actually walk on stage and … be congratulated by our president as well as acknowledged by all the faculty,” Villegas-Vidal said. “It’s very different to have that in-person support and acknowledgement.”
The event will include guest speaker Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez, author of the book “For Brown Girls With Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color.”
Guitarist Jose Garcia will also be there playing Flamenco music during interludes.
Villegas-Vidal added that there will not be any checking of vaccination cards for COVID-19.
“We are hoping that people have done their vaccinations,” she said. “It is highly recommended, but there’s nothing that we are enforcing.”
Graduating students will have their rehearsal on June 6 in the campus center. The ceremony begins the next day at 4 p.m.
LACCD is also holding its inaugural Mi Gente Graduation Celebration for Latino students from all nine campuses on June 5 at the Weingart Stadium at East Los Angeles College. Currently, 60 LA Mission College students have signed up to participate.
A similar in-person ceremony was held for all district African American graduates on Tuesday, May 24, at the First AME Church in Los Angeles.
Another ceremony for all graduating LGBTQ students was held virtually on May 17.