Sunday, May 18, 2008

The irony of graduation

Graduation ceremonies at Texas A&M University-Kingsville were held at the Steinke Physical Education Center Friday, May 16. More than 400 TAMUK students walked the stage. Among them were 14 Communications/Theatre Arts Department graduates who had completed their coursework in journalism, radio-television, speech, theatre arts or communications.
Graduation is an event full of irony and metaphor. It is an end, and yet a beginning. It is a sign of maturity, and yet many of the graduates still have much to learn and some still must continue their march into adulthood. It is a time of celebration, and yet there are tears. Fear, hope and pride are feelings which transfix each graduate as they wait for their name to be called and to be congratulated by TAMUK President Dr. Rumaldo Z. Juarez.
As the moment gets closer, the heart beats faster, the eyes search for loved ones and friends among the thousands seated in the cavernous gymnasium and the stomach feels a little queasy.
Then, the moment is at hand. The name is called. Some rush toward President Juarez as if galloping toward their last meal. Others prance through the stage as if tiptoeing through broken glass. Still others puff out their chest, mainly the young men, and walk proudly toward their destination, knowing that a firm handshake is expected of them at this moment. Some, a few, walk quickly through the ceremony, as if the thought "it's time to get on with my life" is their primary motivation. Some, after receiving their diploma, raise their arms triumphantly over their heads, trophy (diploma) in hand, as the distant cheers of loved ones echo off the SPEC walls. Others give a sigh of relief and walk slowly toward President Juarez, as if trying to stall the impending end of their university education as long as possible.
Some cry. So do some professors.
Seeing young men and young women accomplish their goals is, perhaps, the most satisfying moment for the lecturers and professors in a university. It's bittersweet. As a professor, you hope and pray they are ready. You hope and pray you did as much as possible to teach them well and prepare them for the real world, realizing that each student is different and that there is no magic pill or one style of education to reach all of them. You wish them well. If you can, you look for them a give them a "abrazo" (hug) and shake the hands of their parents, who are swelling with pride and often wiping tears from their eyes. They realize, as many professors do, it's time to let go. . . .
For the Communications Theatre Arts Department, it was time to let go of several talented students. They were:

*Vanessa L. Arellano, San Benito, Texas, Bachelor of Arts (speech/journalism), cum laude
*Patrick William Desmond,San Antonio, Texas, Bachelor of Arts (minor journalism)
*Jacob F. Flores,Bishop, Texas, Bachelor of Arts (communications/journalism)
*Roberta Flores, Dilley, Texas, Bachelor of Arts (journalism), summa cum laude
*Griselda Gonzalez, Kingsville, Texas, Bachelor of Arts (theatre arts)
*Kathryn A. LaGesse, Alice, Texas, Bachelor of Science (educaiton/journalism), cum laude
*Analicia Valdez Martinez, San Antonio, Texas, Bachelor of Arts (radio-television)
*Catherine Skye Myers, Eagle Pass, Texas, Bachelor of Fine Arts (minor journalism)
*Sunnie Ann Odom, Corpus Christi, Texas, Bachelor of Arts (journalism)
*Javier Rene Quintanilla, Premont, Texas, Bachelor of Arts (minor journalism), cum laude
*Rubi A. Reyes, Weslaco, Texas, Bachelor of Arts (journalism)
*Jami Quinn Rash, Childress, Texas, Bachelor of Arts (journalism)
*Christi Rodriguez Lopez, Kingsville, Texas, Bachelor of Arts, (theatre arts)
*Jinelle Veronique Aguilar, Sandia, Texas, Bachelor of Arts, cum laude (theatre arts)

Many of these students were integral parts of our department. Many worked on the student newspaper or broadcast media and others were part of the drama productions. They left their marks on our university and programs. Congratulations. We will miss you.
Graduation is a strange time. It's a time to say goodbye to those who nurtured you during one of the most important periods of your life, as well as a time to say hello to a new and exciting time in your life.
Adios, y que dios los bendiga.