Thousands honor Class of 2013 grads at Bellevue College commencement at KeyArena
Bellevue College held its 46th annual commencement ceremony on Friday, June 14, in Seattle’s KeyArena in front of the largest audience ever, conferring more than 2,600 awards to the Class of 2013. This marks the first time in BC’s history that it has staged the ceremony at an off-campus location, with an estimated 4,500 people in attendance, a significant increase over last year.
“This day was all about our graduates, and we wanted them to be able to share this important milestone with as many family members and friends as possible,” said President David L. Rule, Ph.D. “Holding commencement in KeyArena allowed us to have a ceremony that was as inclusive as possible. Bellevue College has grown a lot in recent years, and we’re graduating more students every year, so it was time to move the ceremony from our campus gym to a larger venue.”
In all, the college awarded 2,609 bachelor’s and associate degrees, certificates and diplomas to 2,481 students. Graduates from Mercer Island numbered 41. “We’re tremendously proud of our graduates. The hard work and dedication they have poured into their studies will pay dividends long into the future,” Dr. Rule added.
The ceremony included a speech by graduate Safae Zniber, an international student from Morocco who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, one of 55 bachelor’s degree grads this year. Jack Surendranath, an instructor and former dean of the Science Division who has been with Bellevue College since 1975, spoke on behalf of the faculty, and Dr. Rule delivered the keynote address.
This marks the fifth year in which BC has conferred bachelor’s degrees in Radiation and Imaging Sciences, and the third class for Interior Design grads. In all, 55 students will receive four-year degrees this year. That number is expected to increase in coming years as the college continues to add bachelor’s degrees, including programs in Nursing and in Information Systems and Technology that will begin this fall.
About three-quarters of this year’s class are made up of graduates who are receiving associate degrees designed to prepare them to continue their education at four-year colleges and universities. In recent years, BC has transferred more students to these institutions than any other community college in the state. Other graduates have earned associate degrees or certificates from programs designed to help them enter the workforce immediately, in areas such as health science, business, early childhood education and information technology, among others.
The graduating class includes students as young as 15 and as old as 65. The average age is approximately 26, indicating a large number of older students in addition to the “traditional” student who goes to college shortly after high school. A total of 436 students are graduating with high distinction (3.75 grade point average or higher) and 410 students with distinction (3.5 to 3.74 GPA). Thirty-eight have completed their studies with perfect 4.0 averages.