Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Community honors local Starr County college graduates

Families and community members were serenaded by mariachis at the event. 
Family and community members gathered recently at South Texas College’s Starr County Campus Amphitheatre to celebrate the hard work of their loved ones. The 11th Annual Starr County Campus Recognition Celebration started at 7:30 p.m., right when the sun was going down, to give the estimated 500 member audience a comfortable setting to congratulate their loved ones for earning a college education.

“The amphitheatre hasn’t seated this many people since the campus opened,” said Ruben Saenz, STC campus coordinator. “It’s a blessing to know how many lives we have touched through education.” 

The theatre was full for good reason. The college’s Starr County Campus broke a new record in having its most graduates ever. An estimated 1,100 students attended the campus during the spring semester and 275 of those students graduated from the college with a certificate, associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

“We have never had this many people graduating in a single semester and it shows the need and the thirst in the community for higher education,” added Saenz. “I speak on behalf of the administration when I say thank you to the families of these graduates and the community that supported them. Without each of you, this accomplishment would not be possible.”
STC Starr County alum Michelle Salinas, who provided words of encouragement to the graduates, with Campus Coordinator Ruben Saenz.


STC Starr County alum Michelle Salinas, who serves as the assistant director of the Rio Grande City Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, provided words of encouragement to the graduates.

“As all of you know, completing your classes on time for graduation is not always an easy task,” she explained. “And for me, adding the responsibility of being a mother made college life more challenging, especially in the LVN Program. Experiencing late nights without my family was the hardest for me and tough on them too. In many instance, I felt I had to choose between school and family, but I knew the sacrifice would pay off in the end, and it did. The road to success if often a difficult one, full of obstacles and road blocks, but if one has the determination and a tenacious will, they will overcome these difficulties and achieve their desired goals.”

During the celebration, State Rep. Ryan Guillen, Rose Benavidez, who represents the constituents of Starr County on the college’s Board of Trustees, and STC President Shirley A. Reed all congratulated graduates on their accomplishments and encouraged them to continue their education.

“We consider STC to be a world class, premier college with some of the greatest students anywhere,” said Dr. Reed during her speech. “I am so proud of each one of you and hope that this is just the first step in your educational journeys. You each have the potential to continue on to earn a bachelor’s, master’s and even doctorate degree. I hope you come back one day and help us continue educating the youth of tomorrow. Good luck and remember that learning is a lifelong process.”

The campus also took the opportunity to honor 18 graduates from the Starr County Campus Dual Enrollment Medical Science Academy and three graduates from the college’s Bachelor of Applied Technology Program. 

“I feel like I have had a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” said Elizabeth Salinas, who earned a bachelor’s in technology management from STC. “Not only do I have a bachelor’s degree now, I can now also market myself better in the job market thanks to STC’s BAT Program.”

Elizabeth Salinas, who earned a bachelor’s in technology management from STC, celebrates her graduation at the college’s 11th Annual Starr County Campus Recognition Celebration.
The event was concluded with mariachis and a dinner for the families of the graduates.

“It was a great evening of celebration and joy,” concluded Saenz. “It’s an honor to be able to serve the citizens of Starr County at STC and events like our recognition ceremony make all the hard work of our college and campus community very worthwhile.”

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