News Releases

For Immediate Release

June 17, 2016 

 Clark College celebrates Class of 2016

The year’s ceremony features keynote speaker Jessica Lynch and recognizes the
first graduates from the Bachelor of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene program 

VANCOUVER, Wash.–Clark College honored its 80th graduating class at the 2016 Clark College Commencement ceremony held Thursday evening, June 16, at the Sunlight Supply Amphitheater. Approximately 2,000 degrees and certificates were conferred on the next generation of our community's workers, leaders, and scholars.

Highlights from this year’s ceremony include:

  • Approximately 720 graduates participated in the commencement ceremony.
  • This year’s graduating class included 346 Running Start graduates—a new record for the college, which has the largest Running Start program in the state—and 170 of them graduated with honors.
  • Student speakers were High School Diploma recipient Esmeralda “Vita” Blanco and Associate of Arts degree recipient Megan Cook. This is the second year that GED/High School Diploma graduates from Clark’s Transitional Studies program were part of the ceremony.
  • This year’s ceremony featured 23 graduates from the Bachelor of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene program. This is the first cohort of students to earn their BAS since the program launched in fall 2014, making it the college’s first baccalaureate degree.
  • This year's commencement speaker was former POW Jessica Lynch.
  • During the ceremony, Clark College President Robert K. Knight announced the names of the recipients of the 2016 Exceptional Faculty Awards. The 2016 awardees are history instructor Joseph Cavalli; business technology instructor Dr. Kathleen Chatfield; geography professor Heather McAfee; and French professor Doug Mrazek, who is retiring after 38 years at the college.
  • Graduate Holly Varner was the recipient of the 2016-2017 Community College Presidents’ Award in Honor of Val Ogden. This annual scholarship is given to a Clark College graduate who demonstrates leadership potential, a commitment to community service, and academic achievement. The scholarship award provides full-time tuition at Washington State University Vancouver (WSUV) and is renewable for one additional year, essentially providing full tuition to complete a bachelor's degree. See below for biographical information.

About Holly Varner
This year’s recipient of the Community College Presidents’ Award in Honor of Val Ogden was Holly Varner, who graduated with an Associate of Arts transfer degree. A resident of Washougal, Varner spent much of her life caring for her family during her husband’s 21-year career in the U.S. Navy. Before coming to Clark, her highest level of educational attainment was a GED. Varner quickly proved herself to be an exemplary student at Clark, earning a 3.98 Grade Point Average and joining Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society for two-year colleges. Through PTK, she organized a Thanksgiving basket drive that provided holiday dinner supplies to more than 100 Clark College students and their families—among many other volunteer activities.

“I believe strong leaders provide positive examples, and my pursuit of higher education is a strong message to my children,” said Varner. Indeed, Varner attended Clark with the eldest of her three sons, who is enrolled in the Running Start program that allowed him to attend Clark while still at Washougal High School.

Varner will begin studying at WSUV this fall. She intends to major social work and/or public health. She hopes to continue her education to a master’s degree.

About Clark College
Located in Vancouver’s Central Park and serving up to 14,000 students per quarter, Clark College is Washington State’s second largest single-campus, for-credit community college. The college currently offers classes at two satellite locations: one on the Washington State University Vancouver campus and one in the Columbia Tech Center in East Vancouver. Additionally, its Corporate & Continuing Education program is housed in the Columbia Bank building in downtown Vancouver.