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More than 1,000 Receive Degrees at Winter Commencement

More than 1,000 Receive Degrees at Winter CommencementBROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – DECEMBER 15, 2012 – More than 1,000 graduates received certificates and degrees at the 18th Winter Commencement for The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College on Saturday, Dec. 15.

“Today you become our newest ambassadors, said Dr. Juliet V. García, UTB President. “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.”

Dr. Hector Ruiz, Founder and Chairman of ANSI Inc., was the Commencement speaker. Ruiz reflected on his own graduation from The University of Texas at Austin in 1968, saying he still vividly recalls that day.

“I remember the bundle of emotions that I felt that day – excitement, pride, relief, nervousness, and, what I would call ‘apprehensive hopefulness’ about the new life I would walk into after crossing the stage,” he said.

Among his many accolades, Ruiz was selected this year to receive UT Austin’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the Texas Exes’ highest honor.

Ruiz reminded graduates that Commencement is a special moment for everyone who cares for them and has supported them through their journey. He shared words of advice with the graduates, saying the six imperatives that have served him well as guideposts are: stay curious; believe in yourself; resist limits; always seek to broaden your horizons; keep your family close, both physically and spiritually; and always find a way to give back.

Three candidates received their Doctor of Education degrees. Angela M. Gonzalez is a social studies specialist for curriculum and instruction at Harlingen Independent School District; Miriam Guerra is Principal at C. E. Vail Elementary in La Feria Independent School District; and Sandra Rodriguez is administrator for special programs for Point Isabel Independent School District.

Dr. Hector Ruiz, Founder and Chairman of ANSI Inc., was the Commencement speakerRebecca Gamboa, a San Benito native who received her B.A. in music education, sang the National Anthem. She had the honor of singing the anthem at her San Benito High School Commencement ceremony in 2003. Gamboa will be teaching music at a Harlingen elementary school beginning with the spring semester.

Bryan Abanilla of Brownsville received his Bachelor of Business Administration in management. Legally blind, Abanilla was one of a team of three to win the recent new business idea competition in the School of Business.

Among of the graduates who had family members come from other countries to attend Commencement were Axel Bachmann and Max Cornejo. Bachmann was joined by his family from Paraguay, and Cornejo welcomed his from Peru. Cornejo and Bachmann will play competition chess one more time for their university as part of the two teams attending the Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championship being held August 27-30 at Princeton University.

Margarita G. Tapia of Olmito received her Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree with a concentration in applied business and corporate technology training. Tapia said she was joyful that this day had finally arrived, especially because her husband is healthy, thanks to a kidney donation. During the time that Tapia attended school, her husband was waiting for six years to be taken off dialysis to receive his new kidney.

A student, Alma Rosa Gomez from Brownsville, is also thankful because of a successful kidney transplant. Gomez, who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, received a kidney from her sister in January 2010.

Nadia Rivera, a 35-year-old single mom of five with a one-year-old and one grandchild, received her certificate in medical billing coding.

Three candidates received their Doctor of Education degrees.“Do whatever it takes to finish school,” said Rivera, from Brownville. “I am 35 years old and barely did this, and you people that are young should take advantage now. Later is not too late, but the sooner the better.”

Nanette Spear from Harlingen received her Bachelor of Arts in communication. The Director of Housing for Golden Palms Retirement & Health Center in Harlingen, Spear attended school while working full time and being on call 24/7. She said having this degree will allow her to pursue a License in Nursing Home Administration.

During the ceremony, García asked Dr. Lily Tercero, President of Texas Southmost College, to join her at the podium for a presentation.

“We are pleased to work alongside our colleagues at Texas Southmost College to transform the Rio Grande Valley into a dynamic and vibrant community,” García said. “The scorpion has been an important symbol of our work for many years, and soon, it will become your symbol. And so today, we present you with a framed photograph of our familiar scorpion as a sign of our best wishes to you and to Texas Southmost College as you begin your journey toward becoming an autonomous community college once again and we pledge to help you in any way we can to strengthen, expand and improve the higher education ecosystem of Rio Grande Valley.”

To view highlights of the 2012 Winter Commencement ceremony, visit utb.edu/commencement.

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