More than 350 graduate at ENMU fall commencement

Courtesy photo: Kaylee Peterson Eastern New Mexico University graduate Justin Hudson hugs a faculty member Saturday morning after receiving his degree. Hudson graduated with a bachelor of science degree.

Alisa Boswell

ENMU President Steven Gamble said each commencement has unique qualities to it and fall graduation Saturday at Greyhound Arena was no different.

“This one, for example, was quieter than others,” Gamble said. “Which I think was a positive.”

Some 19 of 363 total graduates were students at the ENMU Portales campus.

Faculty member Carol Erwin, who won the presidential award for excellence in teaching at the spring graduation, was the commencement speaker for the fall ceremony.

“When Dean Ayala informed me I was the speaker, I decided to research ideas for the speech by visiting my number one source for information: Facebook,” Erwin said during her speech, joking with her audience. “I asked my Facebook friends what they would want to hear if they were graduating. One friend suggested I tell you that the bank lost all your student loan paperwork, so you don’t owe any money. Another said I should tell you that ENMU graduates are statistically more likely to become self-made millionaires.”

Erwin took a different approach with her morning speech, telling students it is important to hold onto the values of community they have learned in the Portales area.

“Lasting change begins in small, ordinary ways,” Erwin told graduates. “It begins with the way we work through conflict with our spouses, our children, our friends and our coworkers.”

Graduates said they look forward to the changes that are to come with the new chapters of their lives.

“I hope to get into the film industry here in New Mexico and do some voice acting,” said Matteau Tanner, a digital cinema arts graduate. “Right now it’s booming and becoming so popular here. More and more movies are filmed here all the time, so where better to start your career than in your home state?”

Tanner is the first of three brothers to graduate from college with his younger brother, Luke, on the verge of attending a community college in Rio Rancho.

Sisters Aisela Magana and Angelina Romero graduated together Saturday, both receiving bachelor degrees in elementary education.

Magana has worked as a wife and mother of three while being a full-time student.

“It has not been easy but I’ve had great support with my husband and parents and with that, nothing is impossible,” Magana said. “As a mom, you always want to be a great role model for your kids and it feels great to be that role model.”

Romero said it was an honor being able to graduate with her sister.

“I think that throughout my whole experience at ENMU, she has been an inspiration as well as my hero,” Romero said of her sister. “She’s taken care of her family with three kids and gone to school. That’s a big accomplishment.”

Magana and Romero said they are the first generation in their family to pursue higher education and graduate with a college degree.

Their parents, Jose and Fabiola Romero, described their daughters’ graduation as “the perfect day.”

“We’re so happy,” Fabiola Romero said.