WHCC Virtual Commencement Ceremony

An update on your commencement ceremony

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

— Randy PauschThe Last Lecture


Dear West Hills College Coalinga Graduates,

We began our academic year together with a variety of hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, the world as we knew it just a little over a month ago has shifted.  We are all now living through an historic period in our nation’s history.  The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us all to alter our lives and the plans we had for this spring.  I, along with the faculty and staff at WHCC, are tremendously proud of the grit and resilience that you have shown in maintaining your commitment to your studies as the college has had to make changes and switch from face-to-face instruction to 100% on-line.   I understand how extremely difficult it has been for you to make such a major shift in such a short period of time.  It is incredible to hear from your professors how you have adapted, persisted, and continued to “play the hand you’ve been dealt” despite all of the distractions, disruptions, and changes occurring around you.

Ideally, at the end of the spring semester we would acknowledge your hard work and celebrate your achievements in the presence of your family and friends at the graduation ceremony for the WHCC Class of 2020.  Graduation is a signature event at WHCC and we look forward to it with great anticipation every year.  It is with deep sadness that I am writing to inform you that West Hills College Coalinga will not be hosting our traditional in-person graduation ceremony this year. This was a very difficult decision to make.  Becoming a college graduate is a major accomplishment and we know what an important event graduation is to students and their families.   Unfortunately, the restrictions on large gatherings as a result of the COVID-19 virus will keep us from celebrating with you in an in-person graduation ceremony.

Given the uncertainty of when we will be able to gather again in person and knowing that some of you may not be able to make it back to campus in the months ahead, we want to keep our commitment to honor your achievements and recognize your graduation from college.  We have decided to develop a commencement ceremony video for 2020 graduates.  The video ceremony will include a short speaking program that will include a student speaker and remarks from myself as well as other college staff.  This video will be delivered to you on Thursday, May 21, 2020 via email and posted on our district YouTube Channel, College Facebook page, and commencement website.

I recognize that this virtual commencement cannot replace the in-person graduation ceremony we all began planning for at the beginning of this spring semester.  However, I hope that it will provide us with an opportunity to celebrate you and your college graduation in a way that can be shared with your family and friends. 

We have enjoyed having you as students.  I will miss shaking your hand and congratulating you in person as you walk across the stage. It has been our pleasure to have been part of your journey and I look forward to a time when I can congratulate you in person.


 Brenda Thames, President 

P.S. Please make sure that we have your correct mailing address on file as you should expect to receive a package from us in the coming weeks.