The Eagle gym at Northern New Mexico College was filled with family and friends whose thunderous cheers could be heard outside the building on May 13.
Rep. Joseph Sanchez (D-Alcalde) was the commencement speaker and the event included flamenco dancers from Moving Arts Española and the national anthem performed by Españolan Marisol Medina.
Gov. Joseph Michael Chavarria of the Santa Clara Pueblo gave the ceremony’s invocation.
The college had 240 graduates for the Spring 2023 semester including: 37 with a degree in arts and human sciences, 31 with a degree in biology, chemistry and environmental science, 75 with a degree in business administration, 20 with a degree in engineering and technology, 8 with a degree in language and letters, 21 with a degree in nursing and health sciences, 66 with a degree in teacher education and five with a degree in technical trades.
During the ceremony, Balderas presented an honorary degree to Mel Martinez, Grand Knight of the Española Knights of Columbus. Martinez previously served as the Santa Cruz Acequia commissioner and treasurer.
“While today is about the future, it’s also important for us to honor our past,” Balderas said before he welcomed Martinez to the stage. “It is my pleasure and privilege to present an honorary degree to the honorable, fantastic, amazing Mr. Mel Martinez. Mr. Martinez has spent 50 years making everyone’s life better. He has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to helping others.”
Balderas also applauded Martinezes advocacy of the less fortunate, the handicapped and the disabled.
Martinez was teary as he accepted the honorary degree.
“I just want to give you a little piece of advice that I always give to my kids and my grandkids and all my friends and family,” Martinez said. “Here’s the piece of advice. Remember to be respectful always. Remember to respect each other.”
The pinning ceremony for the graduating students of the nursing program took place May 12. There were eleven graduates who took part in the ceremony and Senator Leo Jaramillo (D-Española) was the keynote speaker.
“I know it hasn’t been easy to get here today,” Jaramillo said. “You’ve gone through tedious academic and professional hardships to get through this journey, one that can only successfully be completed through hard work, diligence and determination. The nursing curriculum is a very intense and elaborate curriculum, yet – through thick and thin and throughout its joys – you did it. As your senator, and as someone who looks up to nurses, I am so proud of you.”
The high school equivalency credential ceremony held May 10 honored 50 students. The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Rhiannon West.
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