Bakersfield College made history Friday night by graduating its largest class ever.
Around 1,000 Bakersfield College students walked across the field at Memorial Stadium to receive their diplomas, nearly double the 612 students who participated last year. Another 1,000 students were eligible to participate in the ceremony.
“We’re here to celebrate the achievement of this record-breaking evening. This is a year of many firsts,” said President Sonya Christian. “Tonight is one to be remembered in the history of Bakersfield College and the history of our community forever. Congratulations graduates, and thanks to all of you for joining us today.”
All living past presidents of the college attended the ceremony in recognition of this milestone. Other attendees included the Kern Community College District board of trustees and KCCD Chancellor Thomas Burke.
One of the students who graduated Friday night was Danielle Wiley, who plans to transfer to Cal State Bakersfield to pursue a degree in education, with the ultimate goal of becoming an art history teacher. Wiley majored in art at Bakersfield College.
“I’m excited about the road ahead, but on the other hand I’m sad about leaving the people here that I’ve met,” she said. “I’m so happy to be with my graduating class, with these wonderful people. I bloomed more here than I have at any institution. I blossomed into my own person.”
Wiley, who attended the college for four years, said one of her favorite memories is of taking a photography class on a whim.
“The first time I took a photography class, it kickstarted a love I didn’t even know I had,” she said. “I was even able to get a photography job (at the school).”
Animal science major Kassandra Biviano has spent two years at Bakersfield College and is getting ready to transfer to University of California, Santa Barbara, to pursue her passion to be a zoologist.
“I’m excited. I’m ready to graduate,” she said prior to the commencement. “I love BC though. It’s a great college. I think most of the professors are really understandable and they help you out a lot.”
Biviano said she also really appreciates the staff in the school’s Extended Opportunity Programs & Services program, which helps financially disadvantaged students. She said the program’s services, especially the counselors, were a big assistance.
“The counselors really helped with everything and made sure I was on the right path,” she said.
For Jeff Badoud, Friday’s graduation has been a long time coming. He said he initially came to Bakersfield College in 2013 from Vista West High School and really struggled at first but he kept at it.
Now, about six years later, Badoud finally graduated with three associate’s degrees — in chemistry, physics and math — and is planning to attend California Polytechnic University, Pomona, to pursue a degree in chemical engineering.
“I started with a lot of remedial classes but I kept going and going,” he said. “Now, it’s a relief. I’m finally where I want to be. I can actually get what I want.”
Asked what he’ll miss most, he said it’s some of the quiet moments he has been able to spend with his professors.
“I appreciate the small moments during office hours with the teachers,” he said. “The personal time you can get with them is not seen elsewhere; The times where you can talk with them on a more one-on-one, personal level rather than just lecture is really valuable.”