Río Hondo College celebrated its 2020 graduating class on May 26 and 27 with a drive-through distribution of “Grad Care Packages” that include traditional graduation gear along with some surprises.


The events were held in lieu of the College’s traditional ceremonies because of COVID-19 concerns and followed the same safety guidelines used for the College’s drive-through food pantry. This is Río Hondo College’s 57th annual Commencement.

The route students took to get their packages was festooned with balloons, signs and posters; students were also being invited to submit their photos, major information and a quote for a celebratory slideshow on a special Commencement Celebration Page on the College website.

In addition, a virtual commencement address has been delivered to students from Associated Students of Río Hondo College President Christina Almanza. Almanza is a Chicanx, first-generation college student and a founding member of the College’s Queer Initiative Program. She earned her Associate Degree for Transfer in psychology and will attend UC Berkeley starting spring 2021.

“We’d much rather hold our regular commencement ceremony together, but our students’ health and safety must take priority over even this most significant of celebrations,” Superintendent/President Dr. Arturo Reyes said. “Despite the changes we’ve had to make, nothing can dim our pride in our students and their accomplishments.”

This year, 1,918 students earned Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees, many of which will guarantee admission to the California State University system. In addition, the College is graduating 10 students as part of its second cohort of recipients of a Bachelor of Science degree in automotive technology. Río Hondo is one of a few California community colleges to offer a bachelor’s degree as part of a historic state program.

The special Commencement Celebration Page on the College website can be found at https://www.riohondo.edu/admissions/commencement/. College leaders are also inviting graduates to return in spring 2021 for an in-person celebration.