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West Valley College Welcomes Students at Annual Convocation

West Valley College has formally kicked off the new academic year, recently welcoming students during the college’s annual convocation, an academic tradition that is rare among community colleges.

More than 450 students attended the August 16, 2013 event, which featured information about various college resources and programs available to students, an official opening ceremony followed by a motivational speech and three mini workshops that touched on key issues such as financial aid and transfer success. Overall, the event was a welcoming affair designed to establish a culture of academic success, as evidenced by college leaders wearing their academic regalia.

“The community college is really the beginning of students’ academic journey, at least for this population in our region as most students are transfer-bound,” said Victoria Hindes, vice president of student services at WVC. “The convocation conveys that the caliber of teaching and the kind of services they get here is not better at a four-year institution, it’s on par with that. West Valley is not a junior college, it is an academic institution of higher learning.”

Hindes began the convocation four years ago, viewing it as an opportunity to motivate and inspire students. One student who attended this year’s convocation commented that “it simplified the beginning of college and took away much of the anxiety.” Others said they appreciated learning about the resources available to them and another said, “I feel more confident for the first day of school.”

That confidence is precisely what Hindes hopes students take away from the convocation – and carry it with them through their time at WVC. Over the past three years, Hindes’ office has tracked students who have attended convocation to measure the event’s impact on academic success. About 98 percent of students who attend complete their first semester. Hindes plans to track students beyond the first semester to measure the convocation’s longer-term impacts.

During convocation, WVC President Bradley J. Davis told the students he fully expects to see them again as they complete their time at the college.

“There is no journey more transformative than higher education,” Davis said. “We are dressed in our regalia today to signify the start of this journey that begins today at convocation and ends when you stride confidently across the stage to receive your diploma and shake my hand at graduation.

“During your time with us, many of you will overcome incredible obstacles, and make great sacrifices, but you will also sculpt your dreams with hard work. A West Valley College education allows you to be anything you want to be, whether you want to reimagine yourself or our society, take a course that interests you or start a business, transfer to Harvard, or just earn more money in your career. And behind me stands a community of educators dedicated to one thing – your success.”