More than 230 Yavapai College certificate and degree-earners reveled in their achievements and were encouraged to launch new dreams during the May 11 spring semester Commencement at the Prescott campus.

“Never let it be said that to dream is a waste of one’s time,” said Dr. Lisa Rhine, speaking at her first Commencement as YC president. “For dreams are our realities in waiting. In dreams, we plant the seeds of our future. Dreams motivate and inspire. They cause us to persevere under difficult circumstances, and they create a focus in our lives.”

“To the hundreds of dreamers here today, the college salutes you, and wants you to know that Yavapai College has been blessed by your presence and engagement with us, and we are humbled and proud to be part of your personal story,” Dr. Rhine told graduates and throngs of well-wishers watching the ceremony in the Performing Arts Center and via livestream from Walraven Gymnasium.

Along with asserting the power of dreams, Dr. Rhine shined a spotlight on a number of graduates celebrating their academic achievements on the Commencement stage. Among them was 54-year-old Carla Weil, who overcame serious health issues to earn both an associate of arts and an associate of applied science in Administration of Justice. A YC student ambassador and member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, Weil is continuing her education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where she will study global security.

Weil’s story of survival and student success epitomizes the YC credo "you can,” Dr. Rhine said. “If she can, others certainly can.”

Dr. Rhine also recognized YC Baseball Pitcher Dominic Hamel who, after initially struggling academically, earned an associate of arts degree in general studies. He will take his degree to Dallas Baptist University to study sports management and continue his college baseball career.

Brothers Daniel and Mandredo Jarquin were introduced and recognized for achieving their dreams of graduating with computer networking credentials and an associate of science degree, respectively.

In his keynote Commencement address, Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli imparted wisdom passed through the generations of his family, including the necessity of taking risks. “You’ll never regret trying to do something that seemed too difficult or too out of reach at the time,” he said. The mayor thanked graduates for making YC “the best community college in the Southwest” and encouraged them to become lifelong learners. “It’s what you know after you know everything that counts,” he said.

Student speaker Kaylee Berisford described her two years at YC as transformative. “Dedication and hard work have become second nature to me. I had a lot of support from the faculty and staff here. They invested time in me and made me see myself in a different light, and for that I will be forever grateful.”

The aspiring grade-school teacher’s nod to her mother and grandmother – “Strong women raise powerful daughters” – drew a burst of audience applause, as did her appeal to classmates to remain resolute on the path to fulfillment. “Graduates, you have proven that you are capable of adapting to change and finding new doors when one might have closed… I am beyond proud of you all and your journeys. After tonight, we will scatter down different paths and make new memories; but in this moment, be proud of how you looked difficult times in the face and conquered your dreams nonetheless.”

Traditionally, YC Commencements feature the presentation of emeritus status to distinguished retired faculty members. Presented with medallions and added to the prestigious Faculty Emeritus roll this year were Art Professor Cynthia DeCecco, Humanities Professor Paul Ewing, and Math Professor Diana Dwan.