Class of 2020 Virtual Celebration

Sunday, May 10, 2:30 p.m.


Download the Class of 2020 Virtual Celebration Program (PDF)

Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2020

The commencement exercises for the Southwestern College Class of 2020 have been rescheduled for August 22-23, 2020. The college will also live-stream a virtual celebration of the graduating class on May 10 to mark the completion of their academic program.

The commencement planning team at Southwestern College has reviewed the results of the survey sent to graduating students. The survey had strong participation with an overwhelming majority expressing that they would prefer a traditional commencement ceremony held in late summer or August. Nearly 20% of the survey respondents expressed a preference for a virtual ceremony to be held in May. Given the input collected, the commencement planning team has decided to move forward in the following ways:

Virtual Celebration of the Class of 2020

May 10 at 2:30 p.m. CST

This celebratory ceremony will mark the completion of academic programs for our senior and graduate students. The virtual ceremony will include a conferral of degrees by President Brad Andrews and remarks from our Academic Dean, Ross Peterson-Veatch. It will also include a brief address from Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez, who is a 1994 Southwestern College graduate and is serving on the college’s board of trustees – her complete biography is included below. While this celebration is not meant to replace our in-person commencement proceedings it is aimed at marking and celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates.

You can watch the live stream HERE. You may also subscribe to the college’s YouTube Channel to receive notification when the event goes live. 

Diplomas will be sent via the US Postal Service with delivery confirmation to the student's permanent home address three to four weeks after the official graduation date for which the student applied.

Class of 2020 Commencement and Graduate Hooding Ceremonies

August 22-23

We are planning a traditional on-campus graduation ceremony for the weekend of August 22-23. This is the weekend immediately following the Moundbuilding Ceremony and Opening Convocation. As the fall semester begins on campus, it is always an exciting and celebratory time. It seems an appropriate moment to invite the Class of 2020 and graduate students back to campus to more fully celebrate their accomplishments at a formal commencement ceremony.

We are hopeful that we will be able to hold our typical graduate hooding ceremony and a commencement ceremony where the Class of 2020 can gather and be recognized in Jantz Stadium, as we normally do. However, we are asking that you reserve the full weekend in the event we may need to restrict the number of those gathering and schedule several smaller ceremonies throughout the weekend. Of course, as new public health information emerges and as decisions are made, we will communicate with graduates and their families. We are working to balance our strong desire to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates while taking the necessary health safety precautions.

Though students recognized as Order of the Mound will be notified before the virtual ceremony on May 10, the traditional celebration of Order of the Mound including the signing of the ledger is also being planned for the weekend of August 22. The Fran Jabara Leadership Awards, and the Charles H. and Verda R. Kopke Distinguished Teaching Award Faculty Recognition will be announced and celebrated as part of the August commencement ceremony.

Option to join commencement exercises

May 9, 2021

We know that there are many events being rescheduled and planned for the late summer and we anticipate that some of you may encounter scheduling conflicts. We also recognize that some of you may prefer a traditional May commencement ceremony. Accordingly, graduates of the Class of 2020 are welcome to participate and walk as part of our May 2021 commencement exercises where you will be recognized as members of the Class of 2020. For students who find that this is the best option, we ask that you notify the Registrar’s Office.

It is our intention to do everything we can to celebrate and honor the Class of 2020 and we hope that the options outlined above offer a solution for each graduate. We look forward to celebrating the accomplishment and promise that commencement signifies.

Additional details about the virtual celebration to be held on May 10 and the commencement ceremony planned in August will be sent out as plans are finalized. Updates will also be posted to here.

Sandra Gasca-GonzalezSpeaker announced for the Virtual Celebration of the Class of 2020:

Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez
Vice President, Center for Systems Innovation at the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Gasca-Gonzalez is the vice president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Center for Systems Innovation which entails overseeing national and state reform efforts in three key areas: child welfare, young people transitioning into adulthood, and juvenile justice. The Annie E. Casey Foundation is devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes. Throughout 2018, the Casey Foundation provided $127 million in grants and invested nearly $117 in housing, and community and economic development.

Prior to assuming this role in 2018, Sandra served as the director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, which aims to equip young people leaving foster care with the relationships, resources and opportunities needed to achieve well-being and success as they transition into adulthood. As the director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Initiative, Sandra led national, state and local efforts to improve policies and practices to ensure young people have the opportunity to successfully transition from foster care to adulthood. She is known for her fearlessness in tackling deep-rooted challenges and her willingness to go into diverse communities to increase engagement in a way that benefits children and families.

Sandra became director of the Jim Casey Initiative in April 2015 after serving as executive vice president of Practice and Leadership Integration for KVC Health Systems, where she led nationally recognized initiatives to transform child welfare systems with clinical best practices, change management skills and results-based measurement.

Before that, she was on assignment from KVC to one of the most embattled public child welfare systems in the U.S. – the Washington, D.C., Child and Family Services Agency – where she helped implement best practices and championed a culture shift. This work led to remarkable outcomes for D.C. children and families, including sharp reductions in the length of time children spent in foster care and dramatic increases in the number of children being placed with families. Additionally, Sandra has served as president of KVC Nebraska and worked for Youthville (now EmberHope), where she led the implementation of child welfare privatization for the South Central area of Kansas.

Sandra is a published author in the area of human trafficking of young people in foster care and translating adolescent brain science into child welfare practice. As an alumna of the Annie E. Casey Foundation Fellowship program, Sandra also is a graduate of the National Hispanic Leadership Institute, a recipient of an Executive Leadership Certificate from Harvard University, and has been recognized by business journals in two states as a “40 Under 40” leader. She earned a master’s degree in psychology from Emporia State University. She is a 1994 graduate of Southwestern College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology.

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