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Family from Near and Far Celebrate with Graduates at Commencement

 
Katherine Archuleta, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, speaks at the 2014 UT Brownsville Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at the Student Union Lawn in Brownsville, Texas.
BROWNSVILLE, TEXASMAY 10, 2014 Almost 500 students walked across the stage at Spring Commencement for The University of Texas at Brownsville on Saturday, May 10, cheered on by family and friends from near and far.
 
Luciana Mendoza’s mother was in town from Lima, Peru.
 
“Today I am so happy and so very proud of Luciana; I have always believed in her,” Tula Mendoza said. “I want to thank this university for giving Luciana the opportunity to obtain her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.”
 
Mendoza, who received her Master of Public Policy and Management, achieved the title of Woman International Grand Master by the age of 16; she came to UTB six years ago as an undergraduate on a scholarship to join the UTB Chess Team.
 
Star Ocelot Volleyball player Danika Markovic had the thrill of seeing her mother, father and brother in the audience. From Subotica, Serbia, the family members will be in town for a couple of weeks, taking in the sights and enjoying South Padre Island.
 
Juan Torres is congratulated by Music Professor Dr. Kenneth Saxon during the 2014 UT Brownsville Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at the Student Union Lawn in Brownsville, Texas.
Family and friends received a bilingual greeting from Dr. Juliet V. García, UTB President, recognizing the wonderful gift that all the mothers in the audience would be receiving on Día de las Madres – their child graduating with a university degree.
 
García introduced doctoral candidate Maria Engenia Perez, who earned a Doctorate ofEducation in Curriculum and Instruction.
 
“Maria Eugenia said that her greatest struggle was to be fully present in her children’s lives, as her mother was for her, and it was with the strong support of her husband, mother and close friends that she was able to accomplish being a mother, full-time student and full-time employee,” García said. “To Maria Eugenia and all of the mothers graduating today: Happy Mother’s Day!”
 
 
The Commencement speaker, Katherine Archuleta, began her remarks by asking students to reflect on those who have supported them in numerous ways – up to and throughout their years as a university student – and to thank them for all their help and sacrifices.
 
“Years ago, I was sitting in an audience just like this,” said Archuleta, the Director of the U. S. Office of Personnel Management. “Like many of you, I was the first in my family to graduate from college. And like you, I didn’t do it alone.”
Dr. Juliet Garcia and her granddaughter Julieta Rico ring the university bell during the 2014 UT Brownsville Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at the Student Union Lawn in Brownsville, Texas.
 
Archuleta also urged the students to think of those who have preceded them in their journeys, those who make up the roots of success in the Rio Grande Valle. She spoke of her friend and mentor, Brownsville native Federico Peña, who became the first Mexican-American Mayor of Denver, the first Latino U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and the first Latino U.S. Secretary of Energy.  
 
“Your President, Juliet García, was also born in Brownsville,” Archuleta said. “She and her two brothers were the first generation in her family to go to college. When she was appointed President of Texas Southmost College in 1986, Dr. García became the first Mexican-American woman to be president of a college or university in the United States.”
 
Archuleta said she never dreamed when she started out as an elementary school teacher that she would become the first Latina political director for a national presidential campaign.
 
“Or that I would become the first Latina to head the U.S. Office of Personnel Management,” she said. “But I did know to follow my passion for public service. I had mentors who helped guide my path.”
 
Archuleta concluded her remarks to the students with the mandate to “dream big.”
 
“You have to let your passions, you have to let your instincts help lead you down the path to a future that that none of us here today can imagine,” Archuleta said. “Dream big. Take risks. Push yourself. Don’t take no for an answer. Don’t just think about what’s possible. Strive for the impossible.”
 
Dr. Juliet Garcia with lawmakers being recognized during the 2014 UT Brownsville Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at the Student Union Lawn in Brownsville, Texas.
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