ENMU-R graduates clown around prior to commencement ceremonies at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center, Thursday evening. (Mark Wilson Photo)
The largest fall graduating class in the history of Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell attended its commencement convocation at Roswell Convention & Civic Center Thursday evening.
The university graduated 411 students this semester, according to ENMU-R President John Madden. He said irregular lengths of some programs contributed to the size of the class.
Donning silver caps and gowns, about 160 students crossed the proverbial stage and accepted their tickets to bright futures.
“It’s nice to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to become a professional after so much education,” said Irma Acosta, 22, who received her associate’s degree in teacher education.
The Goddard High alumna plans to complete her bachelor’s in education at ENMU-R in May and hopes to teach in Roswell Independent School District.
All seats in the auditorium were filled Thursday for the convocation, with family and friends of graduates standing off to the sides to catch a glimpse of the ceremony.
The event kicked off with ENMU-R Community Band playing the traditional graduation processional, followed by a rendition of the national anthem by the Tom Blake Trio. New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe cadets served as color guard.
The keynote speaker of the event was graduate Emmit Nelson, who received an associate’s in teacher education.
Nelson spoke of how he may not have even gone to college had it not been for the full-ride Presidential Scholarship he received from ENMU-R based on his high school academic performance.
“I feel I owe this school a debt of gratitude,” he said.
Graduates completed programs as diverse as automotive technology, medical assisting and animation. ChalleNGe cadets and Job Corps students received certificates of employability.
“These students are going to graduate and go into the community and fill needed jobs in the community,” said Madden. “We’re a step in the process of economic development — an important step.”
For some students, programs lasted only one semester. Others completed degrees over several years.
George Booth said his 28-year-old son worked as a bank auditor throughout college before receiving his bachelor’s in business administration Thursday.
“It feels great, you know, because it’s been a long time,” said Booth. “I just hope to see him happy. That’s it. That’s the main thing.”
Tenured faculty member Daniel Wolkow, who teaches English and theater, said he was proud of his graduating students.
“I love graduation. It gives me chills to see people who have been working really hard have a moment to get their degree,” he said.