More than 600 students crossed the stage during the graduation ceremony at Merced College last Friday at Stadium ’76. They were joined by an impressive gathering of friends and family members who filled the stands to support the grads after two years of virtual and restricted in-person events on campus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, however, the Class of 2022 enjoyed a full, traditional graduation ceremony.
“For many of you, tonight represents a better future, a prosperous beginning, a pathway out of poverty, and a stepping stone to your career or next pursuit in higher education,” Merced College President Chris Vitelli said in his remarks. “It is my sincere hope that you leave here tonight not only proud of your personal achievements, but also with a sense of pride in your newest alma mater, Merced College.”
About 1,150 students from the Class of 2022 were eligible to participate in this year’s graduation ceremony, and a total of 3,007 degrees and certificates were earned in the 2021-22 academic year. The class includes more than 300 students who graduated with honors, having earned a grade-point average of 3.50 or better with a minimum of 45 units completed. And 50 of those students earned Superintendent’s Honors by maintaining a GPA of 4.0 with at least 36 units completed.
This year’s keynote speaker was Merced City Manager and Merced College alumna Stephanie Dietz. She encouraged graduates to acknowledge their accomplishments, honor their investment in themselves, and enjoy the journey along the way.
“Life will take us down many different paths over the years to come,” Dietz said. “These paths shape your unique identity. Don’t get so caught up in getting to your destination or focusing on the end goal that you forget to embrace the journey.”
Student speaker Gloria Lizeth Torres graduated with degrees in Psychology and Business Administration, and did so alongside of her daughter Itzel Arredondo who graduated with honors. Itzel graduated high school in 2020, and opted to begin her higher education at Merced College to save money during the pandemic.
“Throughout our lives, we will all experience good times and tough times,” Torres told her fellow graduates. “Whenever times get tough, remember you are tougher. When you are challenged with something difficult, remember you have already faced some of the most difficult days, and here you stand today.”