Cypress College’s 53rd Commencement Scheduled for Friday, May 22, Via Virtual Broadcast

The celebration will go on! Cypress College will celebrate the Class of 2020 by hosting its 53rd Commencement at 5 p.m. on May 22, 2020, as a streamed virtual event. Graduates will participate with viewing parties from their stay-at-home locations. The Class of 2020 is also invited to participate in Cypress College’s next in-person commencement.

Cypress College President Dr. JoAnna Schilling, Ph.D., said hosting the celebration without delay felt like the best way to honor the Class of 2020’s achievements.

“We decided it was essential to hold a virtual commencement on our original graduation date to best honor our students’ accomplishments,” Dr. Schilling said. “We know nothing can substitute for the opportunity to walk across our stage, to share in that moment with family, friends, and beloved faculty, but every attempt has been made to create an event that is celebratory, meaningful, and acknowledges the accomplishments of our scholars.”

Each student will be recognized in the ceremony, which is part traditional but also tailored for delivery in a digital environment. The commencement will be streamed from the college’s Commencement Central website at In addition to the traditional roll call of the Class of 2020, the commencement will feature an address by Dr. Schilling, and messages from North Orange County Community College District Chancellor Dr. Cheryl Marshall, NOCCCD Board of Trustees President Ryan Bent, Cypress College Academic Senate President Dr. Craig Goralski, Cypress College Student Trustee Ester Plavdjian, and Cypress College Associated Students President Presten Jimenez.

Video features will honor Cypress College’s 2020 Outstanding Graduate Elise Cunanan and the nine Presidential Scholars of Distinction, who represent each of Cypress College’s academic pathways.

As part of the virtual ceremony, each graduate was provided the opportunity to be recognized with an official customized slide with their photo and a personal message, which can be downloaded and shared on social media.

Class of 2020:

This year, 1,695 students are graduating from at least one of Cypress College’s 98 degree programs. Combined, these students are earning 2,227 associate degrees — meaning some are earning multiple degrees. In addition, 1,528 students have earned occupational certificates from one of the college’s 174 career-certificate programs.

In addition:

  • 58% of the graduates have chosen a transferable degree, meaning they will be attending four-year colleges and universities in the fall;
  • 225 degree-earning students earned a cumulative GPA of 3.75 to 4.0, qualifying for the President’s Honor Roll;
  • 811 degree-earning students earned a cumulative GPA of 3.0 to 3.74, qualifying for the Dean’s Honor Roll; and
  • Three students are graduating with bachelor’s degrees from Cypress College’s Baccalaureate Degree Program in Funeral Services.

Outstanding Graduate:

Elise Cunanan is Cypress College’s 2020 Outstanding Graduate. Cunanan completed two associate degrees in fall 2019, one in sociology and the second in liberal studies: social and behavioral sciences. She began attending California State University, Fullerton, this spring. Her career goals are to become a school counselor and to work for a non-profit organization.

At Cypress College, Cunanan was a member of the Associated Students, worked as a member of the Student Ambassador team, and established the Student Advocates for Education Club to provide community service to K-12 and higher education students. She also worked to raise awareness about student homelessness.

“I selected Cypress College because my parents both are alumni of community colleges, my mom even attended Cypress College herself,” Cunanan said. “I actually did not apply to any universities as a high school senior, because I felt that choosing a university to attend was a big decision that I was not ready to make at the time. Another great benefit about Cypress College is that tuition is affordable and the staff here is extraordinarily helpful.”

Presidential Scholars of Distinction:

Cypress College’s 2020 Presidential Scholars of Distinction represent a scholar from each of the college’s eight academic pathways, as well as academic support areas representing either the Counseling Division or the Library/Learning Resource Center.

The 2020 scholars are: Brandon Nguyen, BUS/CIS; John Lasater, CTE; Kylie Christensen, Fine Arts; Christina Williams, Health Science; Frankie Islas, Kinesiology; Nathaniel Garcia, Language Arts; Anh Nguyen, L/LRC; Connor Kilzer, SEM; Sarah Queneau, Social Sciences. Each scholar will also receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Cypress College Foundation.

This tradition, begun in 2019, honors a student who best represents their academic pathway. The graduates are nominated and voted for by their respective division faculty and were chosen using the following criteria: a) must be graduating in 2020; b) be in good academic standing; c) exhibit persistence in overcoming adversity; and d) represent the values of the academic division.

Faculty Awards:

Each year, the Cypress College Academic Senate selects recipients of three awards: the Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Award; the Outstanding Adjunct-Faculty Award; and the Charger Award, which recognizes professional dedication beyond the classroom.

For the first time in college history, the Academic Senate voted to present the Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Award to all full-time faculty members, and the Outstanding Adjunct-Faculty Award to all adjunct faculty members.

“This unique selection is made to illustrate that we have collectively risen to the occasion in transitioning our classes to a remote environment under the most stressful of circumstances,” said Dr. Goralski. “This collective recognition highlights that every faculty member’s contribution was essential to completing the semester successfully and helping to ensure that students all are able to graduate on time.”

The Charger Award was presented to Kathleen McAlister. While her role as the distance education coordinator is likely transparent to students, she has been instrumental in facilitating the transition for Cypress College faculty to a remote teaching environment.

“It has traditionally been the Academic Senate’s practice to avoid honoring an active member of the body,” Dr. Goralski said. “However, Kathleen’s hard work, especially during our COVID-19 response, made her an undeniable recipient of this award.

“We are grateful for the dynamic and innovative work our faculty do,” he continued. “Our appreciation for the contribution that each of our faculty make to our students cannot be fully expressed.”

About Cypress College:

Cypress College offers students a pathway to their future in an environment in which employees commit to joining students on their educational journey. The college’s half-million-plus alumni include actors, athletes, doctors, executives, mechanics, nurses, and teachers. For some, Cypress College is the ticket into their university of choice, and for others, it provides essential training for a prosperous career. Just one Cypress College class is often all it takes to provide cutting-edge skills that lead to a promotion or a new job.

Cypress College’s 16,000 students and the highly qualified teaching faculty are proud of the many excellent academic and vocational programs. Cypress College offers 56 university-transfer majors, 174 career-certificate programs, and degrees in 98 areas of study. The college’s traditional semesters begin in January and August, while short-term courses start throughout the year. A Cypress College education costs $46 per unit — $138 for a typical, full-credit class — California’s lowest tuition. Financial aid and scholarships are also available to qualifying students.

Cypress College is one of three campuses in the North Orange County Community College District and a member of the 115-campus California Community College system. The college primarily serves the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Cypress, Garden Grove, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, and Stanton.

Located at 9200 Valley View Street in Cypress, the college is easily accessible from several Southern California freeways, including the 5, 91, 605, 22, and 405. The campus is just a stone’s-throw from Downtown Disney and Knott’s Berry Farm.

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, all of Cypress Colleges and services are offered remotely. Students can access support services online at


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