YVC Celebrates 95th Annual Commencement Ceremony on June 14, 2024

Yakima Valley College will host its 95th Annual Commencement Ceremony on June 14, 2024 at 6 p.m. in the Yakima Valley SunDome.

2024 Graduating Class

The graduating class of 2024 includes 886 students ranging in age from 18 to 50+. Eight of the students are veterans and 213 are Running Start students, simultaneously earning their high school diploma and an associate degree. The college will award a total of 963 degrees and certificates including bachelor of applied science degrees, transfer degrees, and professional/technical degrees and certificates.

Keynote Speaker

Yakima Valley College is honored to have Washington State Senator Curtis King speak at its 95th Commencement Ceremony. King represents South Central Washington’s 14th Legislative District in the Washington State Senate. Since he won election to the Legislature in 2007, he has been a member of the Senate Transportation Committee on which he currently serves as the ranking minority member. He is also the ranking minority member on the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee and serves on the Rules Committee.

King served as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee from 2015 through 2017, following two years as a bipartisan co-chair. During that time, he was the primary sponsor of the first successful transportation revenue package in more than a decade. The $16 billion infrastructure package funded six transportation megaprojects, more than 140 regional congestion-relief and road safety projects and invested $1.4 billion for the maintenance and preservation of existing roads and bridges.

King is a past president of the Central Washington State Fair Board and has served as an active member for 16 years. He ran a commercial cabinet shop with his father and brother, growing it into a successful company with 40 employees.

He holds bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics from the University of Washington. While working for General Electric on the East Coast, he received his master’s degree from Clemson-Furman Universities.

King, a Yakima native, and his wife Lois have two daughters and two grandchildren.

“Our state’s community college system provides an affordable, easily accessible and flexible way for individuals of all ages to get started on their path to a college degree,” said King. “It is how I got started.  YVC provided me an excellent beginning to obtaining my college degrees.”

Student Commencement Speaker

Members of the Class of 2024 will also be addressed by graduate Jonathan Carvajal. Carvajal completed his Associate of Computer Science – Direct Transfer Agreement while also earning his high school diploma thanks to YVC’s Running Start program.

Carvajal was born and raised in the Yakima Valley. Like many YVC students he enjoys a rich cultural heritage — his father migrated from Colombia and his mother grew up in South America while her family served as  missionaries. He was first introduced to computer science as a child through a Khan Academy programming course and was instantly hooked.

“I loved the problem-solving aspect and learning about how computers do the amazing things we take for granted,” said Carvajal. “I dreamed of becoming a computer programmer and working with all sorts of cool technology.”

Later in high school, he learned about the Running Start program and realized what a great opportunity it was for him to learn.

“I discovered the computer science program here at YVC and instantly knew that it was what I wanted to pursue,” says Carvajal. “Because I was shy and introverted, I took classes online for my first two quarters.”

Things began to change for Carvajal when he accepted an invitation from his instructor to join the STEM Club.

“I greatly enjoyed my time with the club and was able to meet people who shared my interests,” he said.  

This last year, Carvajal took a more active role in the college community that enabled him to build his confidence. He began serving as the STEM Club’s senate representative, helped restart the Computer Science & IT Club, and joined the new Rock Climbing Club. He also became a member of YVC’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

“I have volunteered extensively both with these clubs, in fundraisers and events like the STEM Days, at the [Central Washington State] Fair and here on campus, and outside of the school. I have loved my time here at YVC, and I am incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of this amazing community.”

In the fall Carvajal will transfer to Neumont College of Computer Science to pursue a bachelor’s degree in software engineering.

“I am honored to represent the amazing community of students here at YVC, and I’m proud of pushing myself to overcome my fears and achieve this,” he said.

Annual Awards

The college also presents honors to faculty, staff and outstanding community members during the annual commencement ceremony. This year’s honorees are:

  • Faculty Emeritus Award: Douglas Lewis, retired YVC Math Instructor
  • Distinguished Service Award: College Success Foundation
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award: Lorena González, Lawyer and Activist
  • Robert M. Leadon Excellence in Teaching Award: Holly Cousens , YVC Business Technology Instructor
  • Sherrie and Daryl Parker Faculty Award: Stefan Apperson, YVC Business Technology Instructor
  • Classified Employee of the Year Award: Elizabeth McEwen, Veterinary Technology Instructional Classroom Support

For additional details, including complete bios and photographs of the speakers and award recipients visit yvcc.edu/commencement

Press Release Contacts:
Dustin Wunderlich / 509.574.6870 / dwunderlich@yvcc.edu
Stefanie Menard / 509.574.4646 / smenard@yvcc.edu