Many of Western Nevada College’s graduates are the first in their families to graduate from college.
Their feats will be matched with an unparalleled commencement ceremony for WNC. The Class of 2020, which totals a record 650 students, will experience a graduation ceremony that many high school students have enjoyed in previous weeks.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic preventing large gatherings, WNC’s traditional graduation walking ceremony at Marv Teixeira Pavilion in Carson has been replaced by Parade of Graduate celebrations on the Fallon and Carson City campuses. The drive-through ceremonies are set for 9 a.m. Thursday on the Fallon campus and 9 a.m. Friday on the Carson City campus.
“I am really looking forward to it,” said graduate Desirae Blunt-Lamkey. “I think it’s a really good idea and will create a lot of new traditions. Our high school did the drive-by graduation here and we went and watched it. All the kids seemed really happy and the parents all got their pictures. I think it’s going to work out great.”
It will also mark WNC’s first commencement ceremonies ever on the Carson City and Fallon campuses. In addition to Marv Teixeira Pavilion, previous ceremonies have been held at the Carson City Community Center, the multipurpose room at the Carson City Library, the Wooster Little Theater, Pioneer Theatre Auditorium, the Ormsby House and John Ascuaga’s Nugget.
Fallon grads have held commencement ceremonies at the Oats Park Art Center and Churchill County High School’s auditorium in Fallon before becoming part of one large graduation ceremony at Marv Teixeira Pavilion.
“I remember the first one I went to was in Sparks at the Nugget,” said Michelle Dondero, WNC’s president in 1998-99. “One of the reasons we were never able to hold commencement on campus is the college never had an auditorium.”
For this graduation, the grads must have wheels. To some, it will evoke memories of a high school homecoming parade. Graduates will have the opportunity to decorate their cars to fit the occasion.
“I wasn’t able to go to my high school graduation, and I will get my bachelor’s degree online,” Blunt-Lamkey said. “This is the only one I’m going to get, so it’s going to be a big deal for me. I’m glad that the college did everything that it could so we could have that moment.”
Each graduate will have the opportunity to have family or friends drive them to a staging area on campus, exit their vehicle and have their name announced while being congratulated by dignitaries and WNC faculty and staff.
These grads will certainly be remembered.
“You are a group like no other in history, and we are extremely proud to count you as members of our Wildcat family,” said Dr. Vincent Solis, WNC president. “This year has undoubtedly been the most difficult year in the history of higher learning. The world has been reeling with the impacts of COVID-19. Overnight, you were asked to change your entire approach to learning, and, in doing so, you gave up much of the college experience. You triumphed because you had the internal strength to endure and persevere.
“I look forward to hearing about the amazing things you will accomplish in the years to come.”
Social distancing measures will be in place to ensure the safety of graduates and staff.
For the general public or for those unable to attend, watch the ceremonies at https://www.wnc.edu/commencement-2020/.
WNC Class of 2020 Facts
• A record 650 grads are receiving 692 degrees and certificates
• 65 percent of graduates are female
• Youngest grad: 16
• Oldest grad: 69
• Jump Start grads: 94
• Grads who utilized the Nevada Promise Scholarship: 12