Class of 2022 fetes CGCC commencement

June 27, 2022

Morning rain cleared away and the sun came out to shine as the Class of 2022 celebrated Columbia Gorge Community College’s commencement exercises Friday, June 17.

The college awarded 195 certificates and degrees this year. Approximately 70 graduates participated in the ceremony, held in the outdoor amphitheatre on The Dalles Campus.

The college’s vice president of student services, Mike Espinoza, began the afternoon event by performing the national anthem, followed by a welcome from Dr. Jonathan Fost, college board chair.

Then, CGCC President Dr. Marta Yera Cronin addressed the Class of ’22, calling upon graduates to advocate for social justice wherever their lives may take them.

“During your time here, we have seen great shifts in society and a greater focus, which some may say was long overdue, on social justice,” Dr. Cronin said. “Social media has left incidents of injustice nowhere to hide, and has cast a light on transgressions that have been occurring in our society, some for years and years.” She quoted 20 th Century Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, who said disregarding “the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”

“This quote reminds us of our shared responsibility as citizens, and as human beings, to demonstrate compassion,” Cronin explained. “Your voice has power. You need to use that voice, even if it’s sometimes shaky. Silence is tacit approval. You are the ones who will be in a position to make change in this world, positive change, long after some of us are gone.”

“It's important to live a life of purpose,” she added. “There is nothing more rewarding in this world than showing up for others … no matter how difficult it may be at times.”

Last week’s commencement also offered opportunity to recognize students, staff and faculty who contributed talent and dedication to the college’s mission of “Building dreams and transforming lives” in the preceding academic year. Katrina Mace is Outstanding GED Graduate for 2021-22, and Kristin Bighorn is Outstanding Degree/Certificate Student. The college recognized writing instructor and author Tina Ontiveros as Faculty of the Year, and Tori Stanek, digital access and public services librarian, as Staff Member of the Year.

Established in 1977, CGCC is one of Oregon’s 17 public community colleges.