ENMU-R graduates Dara Sanders and Sam Chaves shield their eyes from the late evening sun at the Wool Bowl, Friday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
It was nothing but pomp and circumstance for the 400-plus students graduating at the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell 55th Commencement Convocation, Friday evening at the Wool Bowl.
Under blue skies between the 30-yard lines, some 300 ENMU-R students moved the tassels on their graduation caps from the right to the left side, as is tradition, to symbolize the transition from candidate to graduate.
Also participating in the ceremony were 13 students from ENMU in Portales, who received bachelorâ€™s degrees and nine who received masterâ€™s degrees; 35 students from New Mexico Highlands University, who earned masterâ€™s degrees in social work; and about 16 cadets from the New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe Academy, who received certificates of employability.
â€œWeâ€™re here to celebrate you, our students, soon to be our graduates,â€ [auth] Dr. Martyn Clay, provost for academic and student affairs at ENMU-R, told the sea of silver gowns in his opening remarks.
â€œThis graduation ceremony is a major milestone in your lives, and youâ€™ll soon move on to the next steps in your continuing education or your chosen career.â€ Before the presentation of diplomas and conferring of degrees, student speaker Irma L. Acosta congratulated her fellow graduates for completing such an arduous task.
â€œMost importantly, I just want to thank the graduates for all their time and efforts that theyâ€™ve put into their degrees,â€ Acosta, an ENMU-R presidential scholar graduating with honors with an Associate of Arts in university studies, said. â€œTheyâ€™ve gone through a lot, and Iâ€™m very proud of them.â€
The rambunctious crowd in the stands â€” about 3,000 people â€” cheered and hollered and blew air horns and rang cow bells when their particular favorites walked across the stage. The president of ENMU, Dr. Steven Gamble, made sure to thank the audience in his comments after he congratulated the graduates, and prompted spouses, children and grandparents to stand in recognition.
â€œOur students will probably be the first to tell you that they had a lot of help along the way, a lot of help on the home front,â€ Gamble said, eliciting a thunderous applause.
â€œGraduates, letâ€™s face them and show them we really appreciate what theyâ€™ve done for us.â€ In the midst of the celebration, students reflected on their experiences and talked with friends and family about what the future might hold.
Graduate Vanessa Sifuentes-Moncayo received both an Associate of Science and Certificate of Occupational Training in medical assisting and says she wants to continue her education at a radiology school.
â€œIt was really hard and time consuming, and I missed a lot of time with the kids, but hopefully it will pay of f,â€ Sifuentes- Moncayo said. New Mexico Highlands University graduate Teresa Clark, who received a Master of Social Work, said she thinks her schooling at the Clovis campus will better prepare her for her career.
â€œI plan on working for the military or the VA,â€ Clark said, adding that her husband is a squadron commander in the Air Force.
â€œNow I can help the vets, and I can do therapy with them and give them strategies to work with because they need it.â€ The ceremony ended with the Roswell Fire Department setting off fireworks in a field behind the stadium.
â€œTonight is your night, a night of celebration, reflection and the beginning of new adventures,â€ Clay wrapped up his speech. â€œWe know that you will continue to make us proud as you pursue even greater educational and career accomplishments.â€