Record-Breaking Commencement Ceremony
More than 10,000 parents, family and friends joined College of the Desert as it celebrated
its 2019 class of graduates during a record-breaking commencement ceremony held at
the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Friday. The College conferred more than 1,576 degrees
and certificates, a 50 percent increase over the last four years.
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.
“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,” said College Superintendent / President Joel L. Kinnamon.
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
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,” said Tate during his commencement
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
College of the Desert 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