For the second year in a row, Brookdale Community College celebrated the success of its graduates with drive-thru commencement ceremonies on May 13 and 14.
“Commencement 2021 was one for the record books,” said Yesenia Madas, associate vice president of student affairs at Brookdale. “We had hundreds of students, their families, and even their pets attend one of two drive through processions,” she said.
To comply with the state’s COVID-19 regulations while still ensuring graduates had a chance to be recognized, Brookdale once again held an outdoor ceremony that proved to be more intimate than traditional ceremonies. “The event was intimate but did not lack in personality,” Madas said. “We charm, flair, and tons of Brookdale pride.”
Graduates drove onto campus with their families and were greeted by faculty, administration, and staff cheering and holding signs of congratulations. Graduates stayed in their vehicle until they reached the graduation stage that was constructed in parking lot 2. The arrival time of the graduates was scheduled so that only one graduate got to experience walking across the stage at a time.
Graduates had the opportunity to experience hearing their name announced as they walked across the stage to receive their diploma. Since the graduates were staggered, their family were able to exit their vehicles and had front row, VIP access to the stage to experience and capture the moment.
“Students and their families were not shy about letting us know how much they appreciated the event,” said Madas. “The Brookdale community is still talking about how special it was. That’s what we do at Brookdale! We adapt and show up for our students.”
The 2021 Brookdale Community College graduating class consisted of 1,645 students who earned degrees and certificates. Of those graduates, 481 students graduated with various honors and distinctions including distinguished scholars, members of the National Society of Leadership and Success, members of Brookdale’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and honors students. In addition, eight graduates were recognized with the Outstanding Student Award for their academic achievements, community service, and personal accomplishments. The 2021 Outstanding Student Award recipients are:
- Susanna Falls and Adam Meliani for the Business and Social Science Institute
- Mikael Khachatryan and Erika Villani for the Health Science Institute
- Cecilia Alcantar and Bryce MacLeod Fagel for the Humanities Institute
- Robert Mennella and Nora Thompson for the STEM Institute
Brookdale was proud to recognize alumni Kristina Henderson and Barton Henderson, owner and co-founder of Henderson Promos, LLC, for their dedication to helping others. Kristina and Bart donated over 100,000 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic to food banks and other non-profit organizations to help keep employees, volunteers, and the community safe.
In addition, Chaz Bono was the recipient of an honorary degree. An actor, activist, and author, Bono has a rich history of advocating for LGBTQ rights. He continues to be a strong voice for the LGBTQ community and is a passionate champion of equality for all Americans, especially those discriminated against and targeted because of race, religion, sex, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Photo caption: Joseph Sepulveda and his family celebrating his graduation from Brookdale at the drive-thru ceremony.