ENMU students look back ahead of commencement


Last updated 5/7/2018 at 7:25pm

Editor’s note: As 763 Eastern New Mexico University students prepare for Saturday’s commencement ceremony, four prospective graduates look to the past, present and future while reflecting on their time at the college.

PORTALES — ENMU’s commencement convocation will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at Greyhound Arena and, according to Paden Hagler, a large part of why he’s graduating is the faculty and staff.

“As long as the student tries, the faculty will do everything they can to get you where you need to be. The other thing I think, too, is that there’s just so much opportunity for professional development and growth,” Hagler said, adding that he is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education.

Hagler, a self-proclaimed “small-town farm kid from Texico,” also heaped credit on ENMU for the amount of professional opportunities it provided him.

“I was president of the FFA chapter, I’m student body vice president, and anybody can do anything,” he said.

Involvement was similarly crucial to the college career of Thalia Pantoja, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication.

“I think I have grown a lot, just because I have done a lot of outside organization stuff as well, so that made me grow as a leader,” she said.

Pantoja, who has already accepted a job as leadership consultant with the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, said the people she has met have made the whole experience that much more valuable.

“You meet a lot of great people here, and you don’t really anticipate that whenever you’re here, I don’t think,” she said.

For Jessie Ramirez, the soon-to-be owner of a bachelor’s degree in visual arts, the most valuable lesson learned at ENMU was that “with self determination and hard work, that you can get anywhere, and that sometimes the person that you need to lean most on is yourself, but you can always remember that there are people out there who can back you up.”

And back her up they did, Ramirez said.

“The things I valued most about my time here at Eastern were the times I spent with my teachers and my colleagues. I learned so much from them, and if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I would have progressed as far as I did,” she said.

Briana Pintor, who is graduating with her bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education, said becoming involved in ENMU from the beginning of her college career worked wonders for the rest of her time at the university, “because it helped me branch out and make a lot of connections that have continued on all four years.”

Guest speaker started at ENMU

Student engagement at the university was what led Rep. Dennis Roch, a 1995 ENMU graduate and the spring 2018 commencement speaker, to earn his first elected office.

“I was part of student government there. It was actually my very first elected office, was being elected to the Student Senate at Eastern. It kind of helped shape who I am and a big part of my life,” he said.

Roch’s speech will cover the role of individuals in government, and feels akin to “handing the baton,” he said.

“It’s an important milestone for me in that I’m retiring from the Legislature, so I sort of caught some dreams at Eastern that led me into a life of public service, so maybe I can spark that dream in someone else,” he said.


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