PALM DESERT — The 2019 commencement at College of the Desert is one for the record books. The College conferred more than 1,576 degrees and certificates, a 50 percent increase over the last four years.

More than 10,000 parents, family and friends joined College of the Desert as it celebrated its 2019 class of graduates during a commencement ceremony held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Friday.

This is the first year the College held its commencement at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, having outgrown its previous ceremony locations. Among the graduates this year are the first participants in the College’s award-winning plEDGE program.

Commencement Breaks Record at College of Desert

Dr. Joel Kinnamon

“Access to education is a right, and it provides an opportunity for each one of us to create a better tomorrow. That is why in 2016 the College took a bold step, adopting the plEDGE program, guaranteeing free college to every graduating senior in the Coachella Valley,” College Superintendent/President Joel L. Kinnamon said in a prepared statement.

Since its inception, the plEDGE program has removed financial barriers that keep some students from pursuing a higher education. In April 2019, College Trustees approved an extension of the program for 2020 high school graduates, marking its fourth consecutive year.

plEDGE participant and 2019 graduate Shane Tate thought he would never have the chance to attend college. Like many students, he faced multiple personal and financial obstacles; however, he found a welcoming and supportive community at College of the Desert.

“We are all going through our own journeys, struggles, and triumphs and when we are going through the abyss, it doesn’t mean we will remain there. I’ve learned that you always will remerge a stronger, better, and wiser person,” Tate said during his commencement address.

Finding success at College of the Desert, Tate became the founder and president of the first hip hop dance team and has served in a leadership role as a Student Ambassador. He will be transferring to Cal State Fullerton to pursue a Bachelors in Communications this fall.

Following is a snapshot of the Class of 2019 by the numbers:

  • 1,576 —Total number of degrees/certificates conferred
  • 42 —Number of veterans graduating with certificate or degree
  • 24 — Countries of origin
  • 18-69 — Age range of graduates
  • 94  — Percent of graduates from the Coachella Valley

About College of the Desert:

Established in 1958, College of the Desert, located in Palm Desert, is an accredited community college serving eastern Riverside County, California. The College leads the region in providing quality, higher education, technical training and lifelong learning opportunities, in response to the dynamic needs of our diverse community. The College serves more than 18,000 credit students and 1,000 non-credit students each year and is the number one source of transfer students to California State University, San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus.

Image Sources

  • Dr. Joel Kinnamon: College of the Desert
  • COD Graduate, Shane Tate: College of the Desert file photo