ENMU-R graduates from the Special Services Occupational Training Program wait to enter the Roswell Civic Center for commencement ceremonies, Thursday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
A flock of emerald green and pearly white gowns filled the front rows of seats in Roswell Convention and Civic Center, Thursday afternoon, as 68 students proudly gathered in celebration, meeting as graduates from Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell’s Special Services Occupational Training Program.
From double fist pumps to parade waves, the students each added their own flair as they walked across stage and received their diplomas. The students stood and cheered, pointed at their peers in a show of support and camaraderie. They were just as excited for each other as they are for themselves.
“You have worked hard, and now it’s time to follow your dreams … I know you can do it,” said guest speaker Tim Harris, a graduate himself from ENMU-R’s program.
Harris was born with Down syndrome, and when the doctors told his parents this they apologized.
“I guess they didn’t know then just how awesome I turned out to be,” Harris said.
This positive young man shared his success story — about graduating college and going on to own his own restaurant in Albuquerque called Tim’s Place. He is an excellent example to the recent graduates of what life can hold for those who are determined to reach their goals.
Leah Lucier, interim deputy director for Special Services, agreed with Harris, saying each student there held a large amount of intelligence, self-respect, dignity and devotion. They held their diplomas because they earned them, she said.
“I truly believe that there is not one person here who is not proud of you and your accomplishments,” Lucier said. “But at the end of the day … there is one person who is most proud of you. Do you know who that one person is? YES! Yourself.”
She reminded the students that believing in themselves was the most important key to success. And just before the air was filled with flying and spinning caps, Lucier reminded the students of one more thing: determination.
“So as you go forward, I want you to remember one thing — it’s a simple thing,” she said. “In life, we have our ups and downs, our goods and our bads, and challenges and what not. And you will. You’re a human being; you’re an adult. You will meet challenges. What you need to remember is how you feel right now, which I hope is a mix of happiness and (pride), that you accomplished what you have accomplished over the last year or two. And I want you to remember that as long as you put your mind to (it), you will accomplish many great things. With that said, turn your tassels, throw your hats up, congratulations class of 2013.”