Eastern holds 112th commencement

Freedom Newspapers: Karl Terry Mario M. Chavez of Clovis adjusts the tassel on his mortarboard Saturday after graduating with a master’s degree.

By Karl Terry: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University welcomed back a graduate as commencement speaker and 368 students received diplomas during the school’s 112th commencement Saturday at Greyhound Arena.

New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward Chavez, a 1978 ENMU graduate, delivered the commencement address, telling students their degree at ENMU would be valuable to them as their careers evolved.

Following the ceremony, Elizabeth Autrey, who had just graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of science in education degree, was looking for friends to celebrate.

“I’m meeting a group of teacher’s ed students,” Autrey said. “We all started together four years ago and now we’re graduating together.”

Autrey, from Fort Sumner, said her favorite part about going to school at ENMU was the small size.

Chavez told graduates he was the only one in his family to obtain more than a high school degree. He said as a first-generation college student, seeking a degree in business, he benefited greatly from the open door policy of advisers at ENMU and the fact that his teachers were always eager to help on an individual basis.

“Growing up working on ranches in New Mexico, I never dreamed of going to college, let alone law school,” Chavez said. “This institution, ENMU, made that all possible.”

He joked that when his associates in the legal profession talk about going to school back East, “I just laugh and say, I too went to school back east — Eastern New Mexico.

“You can compete with anyone,” Chavez said. “Your ambitions are only the beginning. Ahead of you your careers will be many and varied.”

Chavez also urged graduates to give back to their communities and get involved in the political system.

“Our democracy only works well when there’s involvement by all,” Chavez said. “If you’re not at the table to set the agenda, someone else will be.”