Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Brookhaven College’s 2020 graduation commencement ceremony was held online via YouTube. The ceremony featured guest speakers Mark Cuban, Khary Payton and Victoria Neave.
Prior to the start of the ceremony a statement appeared on-screen condemning racism and police brutality. The statement was signed by Dallas County Community College District Chancellor Joe May and the seven college presidents.
Brookhaven President Linda Braddy appeared first to welcome viewers to the livestream, and introduced the first speaker, DCCCD Board trustee, JL Sonny Williams.
Williams gave a speech congratulating the graduates for continuing to pursue their degrees despite the move to online courses. He said: “You fought off fear, the unknown and worked from home to complete your degree. You’ve risen against unprecedented odds, and we should salute you.”
Following Williams, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins congratulated graduates for being the last graduating class of Brookhaven College. “This is the last year of graduating from your individual colleges, henceforth this will be known as Dallas College and all the colleges will graduate together,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins encouraged graduates to think positively despite the looming threat of the post-Coronavirus job market. “We will grow our economy again,” Jenkins said. “You will get good jobs. And your future will be bright because of the commitment that you’ve made to your future by getting an education.”
Following Jenkins, May spoke to the graduating class. “This is indeed going to be a different kind of graduation,” May said. “It may be virtual, but we are no less proud of the way you have committed yourself to your classes. Stay the course and achieve your dreams.”
Next, May introduced entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who began his speech by congratulating graduates for obtaining their degree despite the recent protests and the COVID-19 outbreak. “It’s not easy to get through school when, not only are your classes shut down, but everything at home and at work is turned upside down as well,” he said.
Cuban applauded graduates for attending community college and said they were smart to pursue their degrees with DCCCD. “I know that some people look down on the community college experience,” he said. “They’re wrong. With community college, you get the best of all worlds. You get to learn. You get to learn how to learn. You get to make new friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Actor Khary Payton made an appearance to congratulate graduates. He said: “So proud of you guys. Get out there and do your thing. The world needs you. Lord knows we all need you to get out there and do it. Take care.”
Brandon Valdez, former Brookhaven College Student Government Association President, also addressed his graduating peers. He spoke about his experiences as a student at Brookhaven. “I went from being an ordinary student to a person Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Justin Lonon called Mr. Brookhaven seemingly overnight,” Valdez said. “Like many of you, I met so many amazing people during my time at Brookhaven, some of whom I’m grateful to call my friends. I’m even more grateful to say that I’ve made the kinds of friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Following Valdez’s speech Braddy presented graduates with their degrees. “Dr. May distinguished guests, members of the faculty and staff, graduates, families and friends, I present the candidates for the Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Sciences and certificates in career programs,” Braddy said as their names scrolled across the screen.
The ceremony ended with video messages from Brookhaven faculty and staff congratulating students.