The Mt. Hood Community College commencement ceremony celebrated the academic success of students who navigated COVID-19 and distance learning to reach this important milestone

PMG PHOTO: STEVEN BROWN - Gamaliel Oropeza receives his diploma for completing the physical therapy assistant program at Mt. Hood Community College. He is joined on stage by Mt. Hood President Lisa Skari. The event was held beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday on the MHCC campus. The dark clouds overhead could not overshadow the smiles and celebratory mood of those who participated in the Mt. Hood Community College drive-thru commencement ceremony held outdoors Saturday morning on the Gresham campus.

For some students, this was a jumping off point after completing the training they needed to move forward into chosen careers and occupations. For others, it's a launching pad as they prepare to further their academic studies elsewhere.

"We call this 'commencement' because it means a beginning, or a start," MHCC President Lisa Skari told students in a video statement that appears on the college website. "Today you begin a new journey that sets a course for your future. Where your path takes you is part of the adventure. And your accomplishments have prepared you for whatever comes next."

PMG PHOTO: STEVEN BROWN - Emily Lewis receives a flower after crossing the stage to accept her diploma in integrated media photography.  The college reported 268 students signed up to participate in the school's 55th commencement ceremony. The drive-thru event observed social distancing precautions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cars transporting proud family members and graduates began lining up at the north end of the campus at about 9:30 a.m. Then, beginning promptly at 10 a.m. cars — one-by-one — pulled to the stage where graduates hopped out and made their way to the stage to collect their diplomas and pose for photographs with Skari. Members of the MHCC Board of Education looked on.

In her online video statement, Skari congratulated the students for bravely navigating the challenges forced upon them by the pandemic as they pursued their studies.

"Take pride in being part of a great tradition," Skari said. "Today you become Mt. Hood Community College alumni, part of a growing Saint nation that is strong, smart and resourceful."

PMG PHOTO: STEVEN BROWN - Abdinajib Muhumed receives his associate's degree in science. He plans on transferring from Mt. Hood Community College to Oregon State University where he will complete his college education. Brittany Gossard, the 2022 president of the Associated Student Government, also recorded an online video that is available for viewing on the college website.

Gossard began her remarks with praise for her fellow students' bravery and resiliency, and concluded with a challenge.

"I want to start by recognizing the true strength and courage of my fellow students," Gossard said. "I have watched this graduating class break through every barrier placed in front of us, including managing the challenges of COVID-19 to adapting to an online platform. I have seen the courage of my fellow students as we stuck together while the world fell apart around us. Through all of that, we have chosen to not let the barriers define our path, but instead I am honored to say that we made it."

Gossard finished by counseling her fellow graduates to use these experiences and the strengths they have gained to "continue building communities and empower one another."


To view the recorded statements by Lisa Skari and ASG President Brittany Gossard, visit

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!