YVC Voice

  /  Nuestra Comunidad   /  Meet Some of the Graduates | 2024
Graduates processing into YVC's 2024 Commencement Ceremony

Meet Some of the Graduates | 2024

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.

Guadalupe Torres

Guadalupe Torres

“It’s pretty crazy. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it, graduate with my high school diploma and associate degree, but I did!” says Guadalupe Torres, who grew up in the lower valley and began attending YVC through the Running Start program during her junior year in high school.

On campus she was able to grow and learn leadership skills serving YVC’s Yakima Student Council.

“I’m going to miss the student government the most because I was with them every day after class or every day before class. I learned a lot about leadership and teamwork,” continued Torres.

Next up she plans to transfer to a 4-year university and major in business administration.

Horacio Hernandez

Horacio Hernandez

Graduate Horacio Hernandez, who completed his Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology Networking – System Administration (BASIT), is a shining example of how students can grow through their education — building on new skills learned. Hernandez started in YVC’s English Language Acquisition classes and in the process of learning English decided he wanted to take his education further.

“I am so excited and proud to be graduating from this higher education center. When I look back from the very beginning, now I just say it is worth every little process [I] got through being a student at YVC,” said Hernandez.

Following graduation, he’s excited to enter the dynamic world of information technology with a foundation to succeed.

“It is time to get into the real-world application of what I have learned through these five years in college. New challenges will come; however, I am ready to approach them and to be successful as a professional in the IT field.”

Jeanette Martinez

Jeanette Martinez

Graduate Jeanette Martinez is also ready to launch her career in the computer science field. Martinez, who’s the first in her family to earn a college degree, has been studying on the Grandview Campus and completed her associate of applied science degree.

“It feels great and, at the same time, unreal to be able to be the first in my family to get a degree, especially as a senior in high school,” said Martinez.

In the fall she’ll transfer to the University of Washington to complete her bachelor’s degree.

Martha Olivera

Martha Olivera

First-generation college student Martha Olivera first became interested in business technology during a high school YV Tech Business Administration course. Struggling financially and facing homelessness, Olivera was able to take advantage of resources available through the College Success Foundation and YVC.

“I feel relieved and proud to be graduating from YVC,” says Olivera. “Relieved because I never gave up even though I would think about it. Proud because I am the first person in my family to graduate college and it’s a big accomplishment for me.” 

Now she’s completed a degree in Business Technology Administrative Office Assistant as well as certificates for Legal and Medical Receptionists and is ready to start her career working at a local law firm.

“I am excited to finally put the skills I learned at YVC to use in the real world.”

Michael Hammett

Michael Hammett

Michael Hammett started abusing drugs when he was 16 years old and dropped out of high school. He struggled with addiction for several years, until two years ago when he made the decision to get clean. He enrolled in YVC’s Substance Use Disorder program to help others overcome their addictions.

“It feels almost surreal to be earning a degree,” said Hammett. “Given my history no one else would have thought this would happen for me.”

Hammett plans to take a short break from his education and get some more experience working in his current role as a SUD professional trainee at a local treatment center. Ultimately, he wants to work toward earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“I’ve really appreciated the opportunity I’ve gotten [at YVC]. I’ve grown as an individual over the last two years. I’m now a contributing member of society. That would not have been the case if I wouldn’t have gotten the education that I did.”

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

Further Reading

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. Read more


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