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NMJC Awards 364 Degrees as 350 Students Graduate

NMJC Awards 364 Degrees as 350 Students Graduate photo
Photo by Kimberly Ryan

5/14/2018 11:42:06 a.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

[Story by Dorothy Fowler - Hobbs News Sun]

Students, family and friends gathered for Friday’s New Mexico Junior College graduation ceremonies at Lea County Event Center.

While there were 350 total graduates, 238 were dressed in bright red gowns, wearing matching mortarboards and red and gold tassels. The graduates lined up at the doorways as they entered the arena where they were to receive diploma covers. The diplomas are to be mailed to the graduates in the upcoming weeks.

About 30 more students dressed in black caps and gowns lined up behind the NMJC graduates to receive HiSet certificates declaring they had met all the requirements for a high school diploma.

Like most graduation rituals, Friday’s occasion was full of pomp and circumstance. Faculty, wearing full academic regalia marched to their places on the floor to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

As the audience stood in honor of the graduates, those to be honored marched in to receive associate’s degrees either in arts, science, applied science, or their high school diplomas.

Although most of the participants in the graduation ceremony probably fell into the category of traditional student, i.e., between 18 and 24, several had children in the audience. Some of the them called, “Way to go, Mom,” or “That’s my dad,” as the graduates marched in.

Star Gibson, who received her high school diploma, is one of the non-traditional students. She was accompanied by her four children, ages five, four, two and seven months. Her aunt, Marilyn Johnson and cousin Melody Hall were also there to cheer her on.

“This has been hard,” Gibson said. “But it’s been worth it. When I put on my black cap and gown for the first time, my little girl said, ‘Mommy, I’m so proud of you I’m going to graduation, too.’”

Martha G. Ortega, another non-traditional student, earned her GED before she entered NMJC as a regular student. She’s a young mother who has a son, 6, and a daughter, 10.

“They are so happy for me,” said as she looked at the gold honor stole she earned during her studies. “I’m going to the University of the Southwest to study to be a teacher.”

Viviana Ordonez, a native of Chihuahua, Mexico, graduated from high school in 2013 and has been working and studying ever since.

“I got my Associate of Arts with the idea of studying early childhood education,” Ordonez said. “I’m going to Eastern New Mexico University in Portales next fall,” she said.

At NMJC’s commencements there are no speakers, said Director of Communications Susan Fine. Instead the emphasis is on awarding students the degrees they’ve earned.

The recessional, which is part of the NMJC ritual, involves having faculty members march to the back of the Event Center, where they form two lines and applaud as the students walked between the lines and out of the arena.

Then hugs, picture-taking, and huge smiles won the day as families, friends and professors mingled. They were a crowd that was not in a hurry to leave. They lingered in the foyer, stood talking under trees just outside the door before ambling to cars in the parking lot.

“All in all, I would say this has been a great graduation,” one of the school’s security guards said as the crowd began to thin. “A really great graduation.”

Dorothy N. Fowler can be reached at education@ .

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