ENMU-R graduates prepare for commencement ceremonies at the Wool Bowl, Friday evening. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Dressed in caps and gowns, more than 350 students entered a new stage of their lives Friday as they crossed the stage during Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell’s 59th Commencement Convocation at the Wool Bowl.
ENMU-R President Dr. John Madden said the school had close to 600 graduates total for the spring semester.
In addition to bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients from Eastern New Mexico University and master’s degree recipients from New Mexico Highlands University’s School of Social Work, students from the New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe Academy also participated in the ceremony, receiving certificates of employability in various fields.
Madden said the event was a time to celebrate students. Though some may have doubted themselves, he said it took courage and [auth] determination to achieve “a major milestone in your lives.”
“All of us at ENMU share in your success,” he said.
ENMU President Dr. Steven Gamble acknowledged that those graduating included young and middle-age students and said the night also was a time to honor the family members and friends who helped them along the way.
“Our graduates have truly accomplished something of significance,” he said. “We are proud of each and every one of you.”
DeAnna Jerge served as the event’s featured speaker. Jerge enrolled as a Presidential Scholar at ENMU-R in 2011 and maintained a 4.0 GPA. That night, she received an Associate of Arts degree in university studies, with an emphasis in science. She plans to enroll in a pre-med program in hopes of becoming a family practitioner.
“Class of 2013 — congratulations, we made it,” she said. “When they hand you your diploma, keep moving — in case they try to take it back.”
In her speech, Jerge spoke of how before she attended ENMU-R, she laughed at its commercials and thought it was “just another community college.”
But once she enrolled, she said instructors challenged her to do her best and thanked the faculty for its generosity.
“Your support and belief have propelled me and others to success,” she said.
She told students “it’s what you do with diploma that defines purpose in life” and to “put others before yourselves.”
“That is the path to true happiness,” she said. “Your purpose is not to get up and go to work every day. Your purpose is to change the lives of people you come across.
“We only have one life to live, it’s up to us to make it the best we can. When your time is up, how do you want to be remembered?”
One by one, students crossed the stage and after receiving their diplomas, they shook hands with Madden.
They smiled and waved into the stands at their family and friends. In the bleachers, spectators reacted much like they were attending a sporting event —l ots of cheers, applause and airhorns. Some released balloons as their student walked across the field. After they all returned to their seats, graduates did the wave.
“I hope that each of you will strive for future successes,” Madden said.
The Roswell Fire Department capped the ceremony with a spectacular fireworks display that light the night sky with brilliant colors.