Family and friends celebrate Gavilan College’s 98th commencement in large turnout

More than 3,000 people thronged Gavilan College's 2018 graduation to celebrate student success and ambition.

This article was contributed by Gavilan College.

Unseasonable morning rain gave way to clear, breezy skies Friday as Gavilan College celebrated its 98th annual commencement. Students streamed into the athletic center to collect caps and gowns, as well as gold honor cords, on their way to an outdoor ceremony.

Commencement Speaker Jenny Dearborn, executive vice president and chief talent & leadership officer for SAP worldwide, shared her personal challenges with dyslexia, ADHD and OCD, only discovered once she arrived at American River College. She offered the graduates four steps to success, "Believe in yourself, apply yourself, figure out your magic, and pay it forward."

During commencement, the college celebrated faculty of the year Alice Dufresne-Reyes, college nurse for 24 years, and Jenny Grohol, history instructor.

The top ten degrees awarded for 2018:

  • Business Administration
  • Health Science
  • Administration of Justice
  • Liberal Arts
  • Psychology
  • Communication
  • Allied Health (LVN and RN)
  • Liberal Arts – Natural Science
  • Liberal Arts – Behavioral & Organizational Science
  • Kinesiology

An honorary degree was given to Roberta Hughan, native Gilroyan, architect, and former Gilroy mayor (1983-1991), the first woman elected to the position. She has served on multiple boards and commissions as well as volunteered for arts, women's rights, school, social serve organizations, and the Gilroy Garlic Festival Advisory Committee. For all her endeavors and dedication, Gavilan College recognizes her.

A posthumous honorary degree was bestowed on Antonio Del Buono, champion of social movements, farm workers, voter drives, legal assistance for the working poor, and senior activities. The Antonio Del Buono Elementary School was dedicated to the man who said, "A good education builds a good citizen." Gavilan College honors his fight for justice, equity and quest for knowledge.

Grace Cardinalli is the smiling face and long time employee in student services who plans multiple student events each year. This year, the Hollister resident organized graduation for more than 800 students, which also included herself. She was one of the last to cross the stage and received a standing ovation from staff and faculty.

"When the Gavilan admin staff and faculty cheered," she said, "I almost lost it. You all have NO idea how much this means to me."

For commencement 2018, 861 Gavilan College students earned at least one degree or certificate:

  • 205 students received an AA degree in their field of study
  • 146 students earned an AS degree in their field of study
  • 132 students earned an AA-T degree in their field of study
  • 161 students earned an AS-T degree in their field of study

An AA-T or AS-T degree guarantees students a pathway into the California State University system with junior class standing.

Is it time to join them? Registration for summer and fall classes is open. Visit

Gavilan College

Gavilan College offers a wide range of services, including programs of community education, the liberal arts and sciences, the pre-professional, business, vocational, and technical fields. To support student success, we offer services that strengthen and augment the learning environment. Courses and programs of study are offered days, evenings, weekends, and online. All offerings are designed to assist students in meeting their educational and life goals.