Edinburg – Joy for their achievements and sadness at the loss of one of their own marked the University’s fall commencement Dec 18 at the Fieldhouse.
Four ceremonies were held throughout the day, culminating with the doctoral and master’s candidates being awarded degrees at a 6 p.m. ceremony.
Of the 1,200 students eligible to graduate, 643 walked across the stage.
“You have worked hard for your degree and for that I commend each and every one of you,” said U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, during the 6 p.m. commencement. He also addressed the College of Business Administration and College of Science and Engineering graduating classes at 3 p.m.
Pedro Ruiz Garza, regional director for the Southwest Region of the Economic Development Administration (EDA), was the featured speaker for the College of Arts and Humanities, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and College of Health Sciences and Human Services at 9 a.m. He also addressed graduates of the College of Education at noon
A moment of silence was observed during the evening commencement for Marla Arleen Ball, 30, who was killed in a car accident the previous evening. Ball, a teacher at A.P. Solis Middle School in Donna, would have received her Master of Arts degree in guidance and counseling. A family friend stood in for Ball and spoke briefly to the dignitaries on stage.
Prior to his election to the 105th Congress, Hinojosa served 20 years as president and chief financial officer of a family-owned company H&H Foods.
The Congressman serves on two House committees; Education and Workforce and Small Business.
“From the time I was a teenager I was always excited about new and progressive ideas. The school room for me was a direct path to the corporate board room and a college degree,” Hinojosa said. “In short, keep the faith. Yes it can be done. That is the philosophy that I have always held. Not just for my personal endeavors, but for all those who share a passion for learning.”
Garza - who as regional director, overseas all infrastructure development, capacity building and economic adjustment assistance in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, addressed the 9 a.m. and the noon events.
“You represent the very best that the Valley has to offer. You may be the very first one in your family to receive a college degree,” Garza said. “If so, you have set a new standard because now you will expect your children to go to college. There is a time for all things and this is the time for you.”
Earlier in EDA, Garza served as deputy assistant secretary for program operations. During this time, he accompanied then Secretary Ronald H. Brown on a Presidential Trade Mission to South America and participated in the 1995 Summit of the Americas.
Garza received a Presidential appointment to the National Commission on Employment Policy, and has been a board member of the National Alliance of Business, Jobs for America’s Graduates, the National Hispanic Council on Employment Policy, and the Advisory Commission on Vocational Education for the National Academy of Sciences. A reception was held at the Sun Dial following each commencement.