An unorthodox commencement ceremony will cap off an unprecedented year for Pasadena City College on Saturday as the class of 2021 returns to campus for the first time since the onset of the pandemic to take part in a drive-thru-style “Car-mencement” ceremony.
More than 1,000 Lancers are expected at the event, which will be staggered throughout the day between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for graduates of different areas of study, according to PCC.
“They will snake their way through PCC’s parking lots, past its career education programs and the Veterans Resource Center, alongside the swimming pool, past Lancers Pass and live student music and dance groups, through the Quad, and ultimately pause for an unforgettable photo op in front of the iconic Horace Mann Building facing Colorado Boulevard,” PCC said in a written statement. “Faculty, staff, and well-wishers will line the route cheering and celebrating the students’ achievements.”
More than 150 staff members are expected to turn out to cheer them on, according to PCC Special Assistant to the Superintendent/President Alex Boekelheide.
Business was this year’s most popular major, he said.
Due to the unusual nature of this academic year and commencement ceremony, there will be no valedictorian featured, according to Boekelheide.
But he did wish to draw attention to one of many highly accomplished graduates this year in Kelly Li.
“[She] served in student government,” Boekelheide said. “She found out last month that she has been accepted to Yale University, making her the fifth student in the last six years to go from PCC to Yale.”
Boekelheide also shared a letter from graduating student Charlene Liang, who is preparing to head off to university and wrote that she came to PCC “as an art school dropout who had a history of doing poorly in mathematics.”
“I really developed an interest in calculus and mathematics through the instruction of Pete Riley, Patricia Michel, Christine Loritsch and Donna Nordstrom,” Liang wrote
“Needless to say, I was not the most confident in my mathematical reasoning skills,” she continued. “By the end of my time at PCC, this subject ended up being the one I felt the most confident in. I would not have done half as well if not for how invested those professors were in my understanding of the subject and the patience, grace, and compassion they showed in their instruction.
“My experience with relearning math at PCC has given me the courage to try for a career I previously thought I was too dumb to succeed in and the confidence to dabble in subjects that I gave up on because I thought I wouldn’t understand the math,” Liang added. “There’s a lot I have to learn, and I doubt I will ever know enough, but I can honestly say that the math department at PCC gave me the tools to chip away at learning on my own. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to study at PCC under these individuals.”
Saturday’s event will be streamed online at https://www.youtube.com/user/pcclancer
More information is available online at pasadena.edu/commencement.