UTRGV grads savor big day among supporters

May 14 — This weekend’s spring commemorative ceremonies will hold an extra significant lead for at least a couple of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley graduates.

Thanks to the pandemic upending public events that included high school graduations, some UTRGV graduates walked the stage publicly receiving a diploma for the first time Friday in Brownsville.

“When COVID happened, I was at high school when it happened, so this is my first real graduation,” said Summer Sosa, of Brownsville, who graduated high school with the University’s Mathematics and Science Academy and received a bachelor’s of biology on Friday. honors. “I am excited to share it with my family and friends who supported me.”

Next to her sat Nataly Castro, of Brownsville, also an MSA graduate who also attended her first live graduation ceremony.

“It’s like a celebration of the past four years, especially with COVID,” said Castro, who received a bachelor’s of science in biology. “It’s like she was saying, this is our first time getting a real graduation because I was also in high school when 2020 happened. That’s when I graduated high school, and we didn’t get a graduation – it was just cut off. This is the first time I’ll actually get to experience this and it’s going to be so rewarding because, you know, we didn’t have this before. “

With a large screen and a stage outside the campus library, graduates and faculty sat across campus on Friday in accordance with a campus law to commemorate a harsh afternoon sun that began at 4 pm Farther back, crowds of families and friends gathered at The viewing spots, some beneath an assortment of handheld umbrellas and others beneath shade trees as well as the water feature welcoming arrivals to the campus.

Melany Gongora, of Mission, received a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in business analytics to further her current career as a business analyst.

“Besides it being hot, it means a lot to be here and celebrate all the hard work it has taken to complete the program,” Gongora said.

A second wave of graduations followed at 7 pm at the same location.

UTRGV President Guy H. Bailey and Executive Vice President and Provost Janna Arney both pre-recorded their addresses, at least for the first ceremony.

“What an achievement for you and your families,” Bailey said in the video. “Remember, it’s not just you. It’s your mom and your dad, your brother and sister who helped you out, your spouse, your significant other. Give them a hug. Let them know that this is their degree as well as yours. This degree, you ‘ll make your life better, but you’ ll make all of those lives around you better. “

Arney spoke of the challenges students have faced over recent years, and even to find the motivation to continue.

“But you did it,” Arney said. “The significance of your journey is not only determined by the destination, it is also measured by the life experiences you have along the way. Those experiences have prepared you for this next chapter of your life. However, today is about celebrating your celebration. Hard work, your dedication, and your resiliency with those who have loved and supported you throughout your journey, every step of the way. “

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s spring 2022 commencement began with those two ceremonies on the Brownsville campus. Commencement ceremonies continue from 8 am to 7 pm Saturday at the Bert Ogden Arena in Edinburg.

Across two days, graduates were recognized from the College of Fine Arts, College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Education and P-16 Integration, Mathematics and Science Academy, College of Sciences, Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Enterpreneurship, School. of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Social Work, College of Health Professions, and College of Liberal Arts.

Echoing Bailey and Arney, other speakers acknowledged that the graduates had help — from faculty, family, friends, and support from other sources.

As “Pomp and Circumstance” played, a blue merle Australian shepherd named Fiji lay on the grassy lawn between the rows of chairs. The 3-year-old therapy dog ​​will walk the stage with JoAnna Lee Hernandez, of Brownsville, who received a bachelors degree in business administration.

“This day is a big accomplishment, and having Fiji here with me makes it even better because she was able to help finish,” said Hernandez, whose moments of anxiety are aided by her companion. “It’s hard, just my anxiety alone. But with Fiji’s help, she calmed me down, she was there with me the whole time, and it made this happen here (today).”

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