West Hills College supporters honored during school's commencement

From West Hills College
Ernest Drewry
Ernest Drewry
Photo Courtesy West Hills College

At this year’s West Hills College Coalinga commencement held May 26, the college honored two of its supporters: one with the annual Alumnus of the Year recognition and one with an honorary degree.

West Hills Community College District Foundation Board of Directors member Ernest Drewry received an honorary degree during the commencement ceremony and Daniel Tamayo, current director of the International Students Program at WHCC, was honored as the 2017 Alumnus of the Year.

Tamayo has served as the Director of the WHCC International Students Program since 2001 and graduated from WHCC with an Associate degree in Liberal Arts in 1991. Since he became the program director, he has recruited over 800 international students to the campus.

“He is always on top of what his students need and he makes sure that his students are successful in achieving their goals,” said Emma Santos, Academic/EOPS/CARE advising specialist at WHCC. “He is very passionate about his work, his students and the college. I have learned that he accomplishes everything that he sets his mind on.”

He has been recognized for his work reaching out to international students by the United States Department of Commerce, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the International Education Exchange Community College Consortium.

“I am deeply grateful and humbled by this important honor,” Tamayo said of the Alumnus of the Year award.

Ernest Drewry will also be honored at the ceremony. He has served on the West Hills Community College Foundation Board of Directors for many years and was the Board President from 1997 to 2010. He attended West Hills College Coalinga—then Coalinga College—starting in 1963 and served as a student bus driver but did not graduate from the school, instead choosing to join the United States Army. He returned after three-year Army career and went into finance, retiring in 2008 as vice-president and manager of Hanford’s Union Bank.

West Hills College supporters honored during school's commencement

“He is one of West Hills College’s strongest supporters and gives generously of his time, talent and treasures in support of West Hills and our students,” said Frances Squire, Executive Director of the Foundation. “We are most appreciative of his efforts and this seems a very fitting way to honor all that he has accomplished in his career and his personal life. 

His ties with the college run deep: several of his grandchildren have attend West Hills College Coalinga and his son is an adjunct instructor at WHCC. Drewry said he’s honored and shocked by the recognition.

“I’ve always wanted to graduate from West Hills so this is an honor and a privilege,” he said.

Drewry and Tamayo will be honored during the WHCC commencement ceremony on May 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the WHCC gymnasium. 

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