The 2014 graduation ceremony was held on Monday, May 19th and UNM-Gallup was proud to honor a total of 470 graduates. About 350 of those were in attendance and walked across the stage to receive their hard-earned certificates or degrees. The wind may have been howling and stirring up dirt on the floor of the Red Rock Park Arena, but the spirits of the UNM-Gallup Class of 2014 could not be dampened even as the graduates struggled to keep their mortarboards from blowing off of their heads.
The graduates were led into the arena by Grand Marshals Dr. Matthew Mingus and Dr. Lewis Gambill. The local Veterans Helping Veterans group assisted with the Presentation of the Colors while Executive Director Dr. Christopher Dyer sang the National Anthem. Master of Ceremonies for the event was Dr. Neal Mangham, Dean of Instruction. Commencement speakers included Dr. Dyer, Mr. Edwin Begay (advisory board chairman), the Honorable Ben Shelly (President, Navajo Nation), the Honorable Arlen Quetawki (Governor, Pueblo of Zuni), and Cody Jansen (Miss Intertribal Indian Ceremonial Queen and UNM-G student). Other platform guests included Dr. Tomas Aguirre (UNM Dean of Students), Dr. Monica Orozco-Obando (Vice Provost, Extended University), Ms. Heidi Overton (UNM Board of Regents), and Dr. Wynn Goering (Special Assistant to the President for Branch Affairs).
The students honored at the ceremony included those receiving New Mexico High School Equivalency Diplomas, Middle College High School graduates, and recipients of Certificates, Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. In his keynote speech, Dr. Dyer delivered the following words to the graduates, their families, friends and guests:
“Welcome, Kenshi, Yatahey, Bienvenidos: It is a sincere pleasure to welcome you all to our 46th graduation ceremony. It is my great honor to preside over this joyous event for so many of you who may be the first in your families, the first in your generation, first in your community to earn a higher education degree, certificate, or GED at UNM-Gallup. This accomplishment is one of many that make up the flow of life – our path from creation to creator. I would like to share with you some points of this flow – points that I think can be wisdom we can share, keep in our hearts, and pass on to others.
· Being Born: your soul and where it comes from
· Getting raised – parents and family
· Learning your culture and language
· Becoming a real person: Live by kindness, respect and trust
· Being open to the teachers in your lives – parents, siblings, school teachers, coaches, friends, even nature itself. All teach us the ways and pulses of the world and life as true human beings.
· Education is a life-long adventure, a journey that never ends. To quote Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’
· Finding your passion – do not let the ‘nay sayers’ of the world put out your life flame.
· Use today as a bridge to tomorrow and thank all those who have come before. Our ancestors live in and through us.
· Celebrate yourself. Let your mind and body live in happiness every day. Walk in beauty every day.
And as you seek your future remember these two quotes from two great leaders. To again quote the great Mahatma Ghandi, ‘Become the change you would like to see in the world,’ and in the words of the great basketball coach Jimmy V (Valvano) ‘Don’t give up-don’t ever give up.’ Thank you all, congratulations and live a full life!”