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Students at YVC's 95th Commencement Ceremony

95th Commencement Ceremony

Celebrating the class of 2024

They come from different places, diverse backgrounds with their own unique obstacles and successes. But one thing remains the same, they have all persevered and found success at Yakima Valley College. The 2024 graduating class, which included graduates ranging in age from 18 to 50+, were celebrated alongside their families and friends during the 95th Commencement Ceremony held on June 14.  

Looking back, these 2024 graduates navigated diverse paths that led them to success,  traversed through a global pandemic, faced new and challenging responsibilities and endured numerous sleepless nights studying.

Despite these obstacles, they forged new, lifelong friendships, found a love for the YVC community and worked tirelessly toward their educational goals.

2024 Graduating Class

Eight of the students are veterans and 213 are Running Start students, simultaneously earning their high school diploma and an associate degree. The college awarded a total of 963 degrees and certificates including bachelor of applied science degrees, transfer degrees, professional/technical degrees and certificates.

Keynote Speaker

Keynote address
Sen. Curtis King delivers the keynote address at YVC's 95th Commencement Ceremony on June 14.

Yakima Valley College was honored to have Curtis King speak at this year’s Commencement ceremony. King represents South Central Washington’s 14th Legislative District in the Washington State Senate.

“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. It is how I got started.  YVC provided me an excellent beginning to obtaining my college degrees.” — Curtis King

King started by sharing how an education from YVC made an impact on his life and how it will continue to help shape the lives of graduates. His message to students also centered on celebrating their accomplishments and being ready to tackle life’s challenges. 

“You have accomplished a great milestone in your life,” said King. “I would say to you enjoy it. Be proud of it. You earned it.” 

He also enforced the important role family, friends and teachers played in helping get graduates to the finish line. 

“The fruits of your labor will be carried on for years and years to come.”

Finally, King shared some thoughts on life.

“Life can and will throw things at you that you can’t control,” said King. “But life is built around how you respond and how prepared you are for those challenges. That’s what will shape your life and how you want to live. You’ve already tackled one milestone by getting a good education.” 

Student Commencement Speaker

Student Commencement Address
Jonathan Carvajal, who completed his Associate of Computer Science – Direct Transfer Agreement, delivers the student commencement speech.

Graduates were also addressed by Jonathan Carvajal, who completed his Associate of Computer Science – Direct Transfer Agreement while also earning his high school diploma thanks to YVC’s Running Start program.

“We have all faced some sort of challenge in our lives, whether it be academically, within our families, in our relationships with others, or simply the circumstances we were born into,” said Carvajal.

He went on to share a personal story about one of the biggest challenges he faced, going from being homeschooled and shy with fears of fitting in to finding a sense of community and friendship on campus.

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.

Later in high school, he learned about the Running Start program and realized what a great opportunity it was for him to learn and began taking courses toward a computer science degree.

Inintially shy, 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.

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

His message of overcoming challenges resonated with many graduates.

“I believe this truly speaks to the diversity of the campuses here at Yakima Valley College, that no matter where you come from, there is a community and a place for students of all backgrounds, ethnicities, identities and people groups.”  — Jonathan Carvajal ‘24

He also shared his pride in himself and fellow graduates for the choices they made that led them to graduation day.    

“Each one of us graduating here today is celebrating the accomplishment that our choices have led us to. All the late nights of studying, the homework we probably should have started a lot sooner, and all the successes and failures over the last few years have culminated in this. I’m so incredibly proud of every graduating student here, all the hard work you chose each day to dedicate to your education, and the challenges and difficulties you each have overcome,” said Carvajal.

Story by Stefanie Menard, AA-DTA ’05, communications consultant. Photos by Menard and Matt Barton, graphic designer/multimedia content producer.

Further Reading

Meet some of our 2024 graduates

Yakima Valley College has no shortage of amazing students. Some have plans to continue their studies and earn bachelor’s, master’s or even doctorate degrees, while others have plans to change their communities through activism or service. Some have scaled academic heights, made impressive career and lifestyle changes, or overcame daunting odds to finish their degree. Here’s a look at a few of our graduates.

Graduates headed to dream schools this fall

Among this year’s graduates were three Running Start students whose experiences at YVC helped prepare them to head to prestigious East Coast schools next year. Read more