Commencement Caps Off Oak Valley Celebration Week

Oak Valley celebrated its Inaugural Commencement Ceremony in front of a near standing-room audience. More than 150 attended a ceremony full of tradition and one surprise. The Class of 2019 was charged by various speakers to continue to pursue their faith, knowledge, and passions as they make an impact on the world around them.

Willie Banks, former World Record holder in the triple jump, two-time Olympian, and business leader encouraged students to remain true to their beliefs, follow their dreams, and get up whenever anyone or anything knocks them down. He quoted The Race, Dee Groberg, which tells the story of accomplishment of a young boy who falls several times, but because of his willingness to get up each time still “wins” the race by his father’s standards. Board Chair Tony Angelo, President Eric Blum, Dean Gayle Linn, and graduate Stephen Mendoza rounded out the speakers. Professor and Faculty Chair Terry Morrow served as Master of Ceremonies.

The day prior to Commencement, students participated in Baccalaureate, which featured a devotional from Dr. Aaron Hebbard and songs from the The Teen Challenge Choir.

On Tuesday, April 23, Oak Valley’s Celebration Week began with the Second Annual Vision Dinner, which featured inspirational stories from students Hannah Morris (‘19) and Andrew Banes (‘21).. Hannah and Andrew described how Oak Valley has transformed their lives in powerful ways, highlighting the personal attention they receive from professors, the family connections they have with their cohorts, and the practical knowledge and skills they have helped them gain more focus and confidence in their path for the future. Both Hannah and Andrew had attended, briefly, other local universities, but due to high-costs, had to withdraw.

Alluding to her shyness, Hannah highlighted that 2016 Hannah would not have been on stage that evening, but Oak Valley has provided plenty opportunities to do presentations and 2019 Hannah had no problem delivering a speech in front of a room full of strangers.

More than 100 people registered for the event, which raised more than $38,000 on a goal of $25,000. 100% of the funds raised go to student scholarships. There is still time to support this year’s scholarship fund. Go to to give online or contact Mark Leonard, for information.