OCC Celebrates Class of 2021 Graduates

A Class Like No Other Leads the Way for a Celebration of Equal Proportion

After a year like no other, which featured Oakland Community College’s first-ever, all-online year of learning, OCC celebrated its Class of 2021 graduates’ great achievement with a virtual commencement. This was the second year the event was held virtually, and nearly 1,600 graduates were honored.

“You were asked to achieve everything that students have done in past ‘normal’ years, while overcoming unbelievable challenges in the process,” said Peter M. Provenzano Jr., OCC Chancellor. “But you did it.”  
The special event featured taped messages and photos from graduates, a recognition clip for each student as part of the roll call procession, remarks from OCC faculty and staff, a special keynote address and more. La’Jonnaqueece McEwen, OCC Graduating Class of 2021, sang the National Anthem to kick off the celebration. 
OCC surprised graduates pre-ceremony with a special “Grad Box” that included a cap and tassel, commencement program, diploma cover, OCC swag and more. Graduates could also order a gown and other graduation memorabilia from the OCC Bookstore.

OCC Graduate Shruti Goel waves during the OCC Car Parade.

“Shout out to Oakland Community College for going above and beyond for their graduates this year! I was not expecting this Grad Box at all, and it may even top my ‘graduation’ for my Bachelors,” OCC graduate Kristina Renee Miller said. 
Michigan’s Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II delivered the keynote address, which focused on graduates’ resiliency and ability to adapt – and how this has helped prepare them for a world that has opportunities and considerable challenges.  
He also posed his own challenge: “I dare you to be bold. Be a bolder thinker. Be a bolder innovator. Be a more bold change-maker. Do not be afraid to think outside the box and stand tall in your beliefs. Today marks the next step in your journey, so take time to enjoy this moment, soak it in, because tomorrow, you take those bold next steps.”   
In addition, the special event featured a collaborative address from several OCC students, who shared insights from their experiences during a year of online learning.  
“We had to deal with balancing school, work and life in a virtual world,” said Shruti Goel, who studied Computer Information Systems. 
“We were put in the most difficult situations, but we managed them – and we grew,” said Markus Tepandi-Sivila, who studied Business and Marketing.  
“And we received such amazing support from our OCC instructors, administrators, mentors, advisors and counselors – ultimately helping us to get to this day,” said Tala Alahmar, who studied International Relations and Political Science. Alahmar was also recently elected 2021 international president of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, the primary honor society for two-year colleges.  
Students and family members viewed one or more of the pre-recorded ceremonies customized to graduates from the Arts & Communications; Science, Health Sciences & Human Services; Business, Management, Marketing, Technology, and Engineering, Manufacturing & industrial Technology; and General Studies programs. The commencement ceremonies remain available for viewing on OCC’s website. 
“The world needs your talent, your passion, your voice,” said Provenzano. “Your school experience has been set against the backdrop of a global community undergoing seismic shifts and new, unprecedented trials. No matter where your journey takes you next, no matter what your future holds, no matter how you choose to make your mark in your own communities, I know you will continue to make all of us proud.” 
Following the Virtual Commencement ceremonies, graduates and their families gathered at the Orchard Ridge campus for OCC’s first ever Commencement Car Parade. Nearly 150 cars full of graduates and their loved ones drove through the approximately one-mile long parade route, which was adorned with inspirational quotes, lively music, balloons and decorations, and most importantly, OCC faculty and staff members cheering them on. At the end of the parade route, graduates drove across a “green carpet” and had their names announced by Academic Deans, as well as receiving accolades from Chancellor Peter Provenzano and Provost Jennifer Berne. 
About OCC 
Offering nearly 100 degrees and certificates, OCC is Michigan’s largest multi-campus community college and No. 1 transfer institution in the state. The College provides academic, career training and enriching experiences, designed to empower students to reach their potential and enhance our community. More than 1 million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. A seven-person Board of Trustees governs OCC. Board members are elected on a non-partisan, at-large basis, serve as volunteers and are not paid. Mission statement: OCC is committed to empowering our students to succeed and advancing our community. Learn more at oaklandcc.edu.

Media Contact: Marketing & Communications | 248.341.2020 | contactus@oaklandcc.edu