YVC Celebrates 93rd Annual Commencement Ceremony on June 17, 2022

Yakima Valley College will host its 93rd Annual Commencement Ceremony on June 17, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. in the Yakima Valley SunDome.

2022 Graduating Class

The graduating class of 2022 includes 790 students ranging in age from 18 to 56. Eight of the students are veterans and 170 are Running Start students, simultaneously earning their high school diploma and an associate degree. The college will award a total of 845 degrees and certificates including bachelor of applied science degrees, transfer degrees, professional/technical degrees and certificates.

Keynote Speaker

Emily Washines will present this year’s keynote address. Washines is a scholar and enrolled Yakama Nation tribal member with Cree and Skokomish lineage. She attended Yakima Valley College before transferring to Central Washington University to earn her bachelor’s degrees in political science and public policy. She later earned a master of public administration degree from The Evergreen State College.

Building understanding and support for Native Americans is the focus of Washines’ work as a scholar, writer, speaker and filmmaker. Her research explores a range of topics including the Yakama War, Native women, traditional knowledge, resource management, fishing rights and food sovereignty. She is author of the blog Native Friends, which explores Indigenous history and culture. She speaks Ichiskiin (Yakama language) and other Native languages.

Washines also researches and speaks on the historical aspects of missing and murdered Native women on the Yakama reservation, with particular emphasis on women and girls who were raped and murdered in the years leading up to the Yakama War of 1855-58. She searches for descendants of the Yakama War to stand by her side.

She is a board member of the Museum of Culture and Environment and the Columbia Riverkeeper. She serves as an adjunct faculty at Yakima Valley College. Washines also previously served on Central Washington University’s Board of Trustees as an appointee of Gov. Jay Inslee.

Student Commencement Speakers

Graduates will also be addressed by two student commencement speakers. The student commencement speeches will be delivered by YVC graduates Aracely Ochoa and Lynne Geddis.

Ochoa is completing her associate in business transfer degree. After learning about the opportunities available for high school students at Yakima Valley College, Ochoa enrolled in the Running Start program and focused her goals on earning a two-year degree while in high school.

“Attending YVC as a Running Start student was a no-brainer because I knew it was a great opportunity,” she said. “I became fully invested and decided to attend YVC full-time. Two years later, I can honestly say it is one of the best choices ever made.”

In addition to earning college credits alongside her high school diploma, Ochoa has also had the opportunity to take on a leadership role in YVC’s student government. As a student government officer, she’s helped plan events, advocated for students’ rights, overseen allocation of resources and helped ensure that all students have a voice. These opportunities have helped her grow, be part of a strong community and make a difference on campus.

Following graduation, she plans to transfer to a four-year university and earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Geddis is completing her associate of applied science in medical assisting. A non-traditional student, Geddis grew up on a dairy farm and graduated from Grandview High School in 2002. When she became unemployed in 2019, she decided to return to school to retrain for a new career.

“I chose [YVC] due to location, affordability and financial assistance,” states Geddis. “I am a recipient of the Yakima Valley College Foundation Scholarship and this scholarship has provided me the opportunity to pursue my dreams.”

Geddis became interested in medical assisting as an academic path after watching the work of her twin sister, who is a nurse. After suffering from complications of COVID-19 while pregnant with her fourth child, Geddis was even more committed to wanting to work in the field.

“I was admitted to Kadlec regional hospital with COVID-19 pneumonia. The caregivers and hospital were so kind and helpful, I knew more than ever that I wanted to be employed in the healthcare industry so that I could help people too,” she 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: Patricia Hakala, retired YVC Dental Hygiene Instructor
  • Distinguished Service Award: Cowiche Canyon Conservancy
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award: George Allan, Former Owner and Current Board Member Allan Bros Fruit
  • Robert M. Leadon Excellence in Teaching Award: Olivia Hernandez, YVC English Instructor
  • Sherrie and Daryl Parker Faculty Award: Michele Coville, YVC Radiologic Sciences Instructor
  • Classified Employee of the Year Award: Tessa Southards, Supply and Procurement Specialist

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