Umpqua Community College held its commencement ceremony Friday evening in a drive-thru fashion, adhering to public gathering restrictions in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“No matter how long you have been on the journey to this destination there is no doubt that you have experienced both roadblocks and wide open highways, detours and u-turns, bumpy roads and scenic tours. And just as you thought you were speeding toward the end of this journey along came COVID-19 that threw in unexpected twists and turns,” UCC President Debra Thatcher said in her speech. “And what did you do? You adapted and found ways to successfully navigate the last few miles and zoom to the end. In fact you became experts at Zoom.”

Zoom, of course, referring to the videoconferencing program many instructors used to complete the final term.

“One thing that COVID-19 taught us was that the future is not written,” Thatcher said. “It holds challenges and questions. I believe that you, today’s graduates, are the answers to those challenges and questions. It is in your power to make this a better world.”

The ceremony was broadcast on Brooke Communications station i101 and live streamed on the UCC YouTube channel.

The Umpqua Singers, while wearing face masks, started the broadcasted celebration around 5:45 p.m., which included a rendition of the song Lady Marmalade — a song famous for its sexually suggestive chorus in which the singer asks “Do you want to sleep with me?” in French.

The ceremony included a few glitches, including two pre-recorded speeches that were announced but never broadcast.

Dean of the Division of Enrollment Management Missy Olson read the names of each graduate as they rolled past the podium in their vehicles, several of which were decorated.

Former student body president Jesika Barnes led the parade, as she received the highest recognition at the community college — the Harry Jacoby Award.

Students came in their own vehicles, in groups and even in a limousine to celebrate their accomplishment.

School board members would then hand the diploma covers to the graduates in the vehicle.

Editor’s note: Brooke Communications and The News-Review share common ownership.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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