Bakersfield College celebrated what Kern Community College District Chancellor Sandra Serrano called the largest class of graduates she has seen at a graduation ceremony in 25 years.
More than 600 Bakersfield College graduates in black robes and red stoles poured into Memorial Stadium Friday for a commencement ceremony that concludes the college's 100th school year.
Professor Cornelio Rodriguez announced veteran ag professor Bill Kelly as winner of the Samuel W. McCall outstanding professor award.
He joined the lineup of students, faculty members and administrators who took turns reciting words of advice for the graduates.
"Whatever you do, do well; and always sacrifice to meet the needs of others," he said. "People who focus only on themselves often end up lonely. But most of all never, never, never, ever give up."
They were words many of the graduates had already exemplified -- some transferring to several schools before earning their first degrees, others balancing families and full-time jobs, and a few following in the footsteps of generations of BC grads.
Between the father-son pair -- Kevin Bush and Ryan Bush -- were examples of all three scenarios.
Ryan Bush, 22, earned his associate degree in liberal studies the same fall semester his 55-year-old father finished his BC degree in real estate.
"I saw his name right below my name," Kevin Bush said after reading a list of graduates as he paid for his regalia and robe.
"I was really proud, really, really proud of him," he added.
The pair are part of a class of 1,160 graduates -- 770 of which plan to transfer to four-year colleges or universities.
Sonya Christian, president of the community college, described that class in a list of stats. She said students who earned associate degrees in science and those who will receive degrees in art were split nearly 50/50.
"You're from Bakersfield, Shafter, Wasco, Delano, McFarland, Arvin, Lamont, Tehachapi..." Christian told the class seated in front of her.
Spurts of high-pitched screams crescendoed through the audience -- thousands of onlookers standing, sitting and leaning in the half-filled stadium.
Jennifer Hennessee, of Bakersfield, stood near the front of the towering bleachers with a niece and granddaughter as she looked for the daughter she was there to support among the group of hundreds.
She waved when she spotted her daughter Jenette Gallardo's face.
"She's overcome a lot of obstacles,"the mother said.
Gallardo, a 21-year-old human services technician, began college in 2010. She had a baby in April 2013 and graduated Friday with two associate degrees in criminal justice and psychology.
"I'm very proud," Hennessee said.