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Photo Memories of Winter Commencement

748 Students Awarded Degrees at Winter Commencement

BROWNSVILLE, TEXASDEC. 14, 2013 Just one day after The University of Texas System Board of Regents announced the new name of South Texas’ future university and medical school to be The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, 748 students walked across the stage for the 19th Winter Commencement for The University of Texas at Brownsville on Saturday, Dec. 14.  

Teri AlarconTeri Alarcon
“This morning we celebrate our graduates, who now become our newest alumni,” said Dr. Juliet V. García, UTB President. “They have paved the way for generations of students to follow. And yet, we know that their work among us is only beginning.”
Teri Alarcon, Hanna High School Principal, and the president of the UTB Alumni Board, was the commencement speaker. A 1989 graduate of UTB, Alarcon went on to receive two master’s degrees to advance in her field of education.
“My story is no different than many of your lives,” Alarcon said. “Growing up, my family often struggled to make ends meet. I knew I had to break the cycle of poverty, and the way was through education, although I wasn't sure how I would get there or what I would study. Then one day, on a field trip to the UTB campus I realized there was a place for me to continue my education.”
Alarcon said every degree she has earned at UTB has continued to open doors for her, and she never imagined she would become principal of the high school where she was once a student.
“And I never dreamed I would be asked to speak to you, the graduates of my university, UTB, where I graduated,” Alarcon said.
Among the graduates receiving master’s degrees was Rocio Frausto-Robles who received her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction.
“I had to overcome the barrier of learning English as a second language at age 10,” Frausto-Robles said. “Unfortunately, at age 14 I dropped out of school to marry my boyfriend. I started working to obtain my GED at age 27 with three children to take care of. Two years later, I was a full-time student, full-time mom and working 40 hours as a paraprofessional. I just never gave up my dreams, and now I am able to graduate with a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. I believe that the personal care that most professors give to their students was what made the difference in my life.”
Jason Whitney, who received his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education, also gave credit to his professors for their support.
“It was the diligence and instruction of Dr. Daniel Hunter-Holly and Dianne Brumley that made me the music educator I am today,” Whitney said. “They always pushed me to do more. They never gave up and always saw the potential I had in me even when I didn’t think I did.”
Fei Cao, from Beijing, China, came to Brownsville as an exchange student and graduated from Porter High School in 2009. He felt at home in Brownsville and chose to stay and study at UTB. Cao graduated from the School of Business with a double major in accounting and management.
“I feel great, like I have achieved something, and I am proud that I am one of the few Asians at UTB,” Cao said.
Demaracus Gatlin, originally from Arkansas, made Brownsville his new home after serving in the U.S. Army.
Six graduate students, all educators in the New Caney Independent School District – in the Houston/Sugar Land/Baytown metropolitSix graduate students, all educators in the New Caney Independent School District – in the Houston/Sugar Land/Baytown metropolitan area – travelled to Brownsville to receive their Master of Education in Bilingual Education and English as a Second Language that has been made possible through UTB distance education.
“This is incredible, this is such a gratifying experience,” Gatlin said. “I am thankful for all my family and friends, and for my professors who pushed me to succeed. I am also grateful to the Veterans Affairs system and all its support.”
García concluded the ceremony telling students they have become UTB’s newest ambassadors.
“Represent us well and take your place among the many that have preceded you to become stewards of our mission, leaders in our community and important contributors to making our world a better place,” García said. “Build bridges not fences; nurture and care for our fragile environment; work for peace and justice; and take your place as an engaged citizen of our world.”
Before bidding the students farewell, García introduced the closing music, “Las Golondrinas”.
“This song is used in our region to signal a parting, a loving goodbye,” she said. “It has become our tradition to play the song for our recessional as our parting wish for your success and for our hope that while many of you leave today, you will always remember your time with us.”
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