This spring, in a ceremony that met the needs of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 296 students graduated from Pueblo Community College Southwest, earning degrees, certificates and mini-certificates.
The commencement was virtual and held on May 22 jointly with all the PCC campuses. While the graduation was unusual, the virtual nature did allow students at the three Southwest Colorado sites to share a ceremony with fellow grads in Pueblo and Cañon City.
The graduation was livestreamed and featured video footage of the campus sites, graduate names and statements, and thoughts from the different campus leaders.
“Look at yourself,” PCC Southwest Executive Dean Samuel Dosumu told graduates, recalling the roadblocks they had faced in recent months. “You have conquered these challenges and you are victorious. You are a completer. You didn’t let obstacles stop you from reaching your goal.”
The three PCC Southwest campuses are in Mancos, Durango and Bayfield.
Angie Paccione of the Colorado Department of Higher Education passed along a few words of wisdom, noting that despite the unique format, the ceremony was a historic event and the start of something new.
“We celebrate this as a commencement, and of course commencement means a beginning,” Paccione said. “And so what is it that you are now beginning?”
This last semester of schooling was a whirlwind for students nationwide, as classes shifted to a virtual format.
“I am very proud of all of our faculty and instructors who worked long hours to convert their classes for remote delivery,” Dosumu said in a recent statement. “Their sacrifice showed dedication and heart and because of this, our students had very little disruption to their education.”
He also lauded students for their patience in the face of uncertainty, and highlighted that this year the college graduated 40 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses.
“They are ready to play an important role during this unprecedented pandemic,” Dosumu said.
This year was also the first time in over 10 years that the college graduated a paramedics class.
Summer classes are already underway and will continue to be conducted remotely. This fall, though, the college is looking to return to face-to-face instruction, and like other schools across the nation, administrators are working to figure out how to hold classes safely. Right now, campus visitors are asked to fill out a health questionnaire and have their temperature taken, and students and staff are asked to wear masks.
“We are working intently to create a new learning environment and will continue to focus on the success of all students,” Dosumu said.