2012 Spring Commencement Video
2012 Spring Commencement Photo Gallery
University Celebrates Spring Commencement
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MAY 19, 2012 – More than 800 graduates received degrees at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College’s 20th Spring Commencement held Saturday, May 19 on the Cardenas South Hall Lawn.
Dr. Juliet V. García, President of The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, highlighted for graduates and attendees that the institution has become eighth in the nation in the number of associate degrees awarded to Hispanics and 24th in the nation in the number of bachelor’s degrees earned by Hispanics, according to Excelencia in Education’s report “Finding Your Workforce.”
“As our most recent graduates, today you will become our newest ambassadors,” said García. “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. 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.”
The keynote speaker was Yolanda Kakabadse Navarro, President of World Wildlife Fund, or WWF. She talked about sustainability and the environment.
“Whatever we all do or not do in the coming decade will determine the fate of all life on Earth,” said Kakabadse Navarro. “And you have great opportunities to be key architects in the design of new lifestyles, in living within our limits and ensuring a quality of life that honors your aspirations. UTB has provided you with the tools to do it.”
Among the graduates were 33 students from the Brownsville Early College High School who received associate degrees. They are part of the first cohort that began classes in fall 2008 at the early college high school, a partnership between the university and the Brownsville Independent School District. The students will receive their high school diplomas on Saturday, June 2.
One of the BECHS graduates, 18-year-old Melissa Millan of Brownsville, received an associate degree in education.
“It’s a honor to make my family proud of me,” Millan said. “I’m the first in my family to graduate from high school and college.”
Millan said she and her classmates grew close during their four years together. By being the school’s first class, they have set the academic example for future BECHS classes to follow.
“It’s an honor to see all my hard work pay off,” said Millan. “The four years went by fast.”
Millan’s day of celebration was not over as she and her classmates participated in BECHS’s first prom Saturday night at the Student Union’s Gran Salón.
Millan plans to attend the university to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education this fall. She will also work on campus as a tutor.
Also graduating with associate degrees and high school diplomas were 43 students from the university’s Mathematics and Science Academy.
“Two years ago, I had no idea I would do this today,” said Jose Raya, 17, of Brownsville, who received an associate degree in biology. “It’s a lot of hard work, and today it pays off.”
This summer, Raya will do summer enrichment research and prepare for the MCAT. He plans to attend the university this fall and major in biology as part of the Early Medical School Acceptance Program.
“I like there are a lot of opportunities, but a lot of people don’t take advantage,” said Raya. “I’m getting the Scorpion Scholars scholarship so coming here will be free. Brownsville is my home and where I was raised.”
Two graduates in the School of Business live a few streets away from each other but in different cities.
Martin Vasquez, 23, of Harlingen, and Macarena Cantu, 24, of San Benito both received bachelor’s of applied technology degrees in workforce leadership and training. The graduates met through their academic program and took a majority of their classes online.
“The classes are pretty good,” said Vasquez. “We never had bad teachers.”
Cantu worked full-time at a bank as she took classes.
“I have a job now,” she said. “I just want to move up in that field.”
One graduate flew from Canada to participate in the ceremony.
Gina Barquet, 32, of Ottawa, Canada, received a master’s degree in public policy and management. She began work on the degree in fall 2009 when she was a deputy consul for the Consulate of Mexico in Brownsville. The Mexico City native finished her degree work in spring 2011 and later in the year was transferred to the Embassy of Mexico in Ottawa. Barquet now works in protocol and internal politics.
“I thought it was real important to be here,” said Barquet, “It was closing a chapter here. It would feel unfinished if I didn’t come back.”
Overall more than 1,300 students graduated with degrees this spring.
More than 46,000 students have received certificates and degrees from the university since the partnership between The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College began in 1991.