Monday, May 25, 2020

Time to celebrate FVCC graduates

by Jane Karas
| May 14, 2020 1:00 AM

Flathead Valley Community College is celebrating our 52nd annual commencement ceremony this Friday. This ceremony will be different than any other year at the college, as it will be streamed via an online video.

The coronavirus pandemic has made an in-person graduation impossible, so we will acknowledge and celebrate our graduates with this online medium. I am very excited by the accessibility it creates in opening our graduation ceremony more broadly, so that family near and far can tune in, as well as the public.

While we will be able to recognize our graduates virtually, I greatly regret that the video does not allow the personal congratulations, fanfare, and celebratory atmosphere that is a special part of our annual commencement ceremony. Personally, I will miss shaking the hand of each student as they cross the stage, recognizing their individual accomplishments in reaching their goals and graduating from FVCC.

Despite the uniqueness of this ceremony, we are tremendously proud of the group of graduates we celebrate this year, including 339 graduates receiving 370 degrees and certificates. Our students have achieved goals that they set their sights on and pursued despite ever-changing circumstances, especially in the last few months. Graduates have overcome challenges, forged new career paths, and began their higher education at Flathead Valley Community College.

Many students, like Andrew Calzadilla, will begin careers using their education and training from FVCC. Andrew is graduating with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Radiology Technology, and he plans to work at a hospital as a radiologic technologist. Andrew decided to pursue radiology because his father, who was in the army, shared a lifelong interest in the field with Andrew during his childhood. Entering the healthcare sector during a pandemic is “certainly strange,” Andrew said, but he is excited to start his career in the medical field.

Another graduate featured in our commencement ceremony is Chauncey Allison. Chauncey is a 29-year-old single dad with admirable ambitions for a career in music education. He was inspired by Kevin Allen-Schmid, his music teacher at Flathead High School.

A Kalispell native, Chauncey attended the University of Montana for a year after high school before joining a band and touring around the country. Eventually, he made his way back to Montana, welcomed his daughter Nora, and took a job at Sportsman Ski Haus. Chauncey stayed involved with music and his passion for singing continued, as he joined the Glacier Chorale and decided to earn an Associate of Arts degree at FVCC.

In the fall, Chauncey will pursue his four-year degree at the University of Montana with a major in music education, specifically on the opera track. “I want to teach music and bring life to it the way that my teachers did for me,” said Chauncey recently. Chauncey sings a glorious national anthem on our commencement video this year. We look forward to hearing more from him, hopefully through song.

Our faculty and staff are constantly impressed by our FVCC students, and this year’s graduates are no different. The challenging circumstances of this spring aside, we look forward to celebrating our graduates with the commencement ceremony at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 15th. The ceremony will stream online via our website at and will be available and open to the public. Please join us in congratulating our graduates, and we look forward to working with them, hearing from them, and celebrating their achievements.

To our graduates – you are a talented group of students and you have a bright future ahead of you in your chosen career. I am incredibly proud of each of you, and wish I could share that with you in person.

Congratulations to you, Flathead Valley Community College Class of 2020!

—Jane Karas is president of Flathead Valley Community College