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UTRGV Fall 2016 commencement ceremonies kick off in Brownsville

The first of four UTRGV Fall Commencement ceremonies was held Friday evening on the Brownsville Campus.

The first of four UTRGV Fall Commencement ceremonies was held Friday evening on the Brownsville Campus, with 470 of 604 graduates walking the stage to accept their diploma. Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTRGV provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, told graduates commencement is a special moment for the university, for graduates, and for the entire community. “Today, we come together to celebrate a major accomplishment in the lives of our students. Today, we celebrate their success,” he said. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

By Vicky Brito

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – DEC. 16, 2016 – About 470 of 604 graduates from the Brownsville Campus walked the stage at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Fall 2016 Commencement ceremony on Friday evening. 

In addition to the graduates, hundreds of family and friends gathered for the 6 p.m. ceremony on the Student Union lawn to cheer on the graduates as they crossed the stage to accept their diplomas.

The UTRGV Wind Symphony performed Pomp and Circumstance, as the graduates in full regalia took their seats. 

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTRGV provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, gave opening remarks, stepping in for UTRGV President Guy Bailey, who could not attend due to a death in the family.

“This is a special moment for our university and our communities and especially for our graduates,” Rodriguez said. “Today, we come together to celebrate a major accomplishment in the lives of our students. Today, we celebrate their success.”

The ceremony honored graduates from the Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship, College of Education and P-16 Integration, College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Fine Arts, College of Health Affairs, College of Liberal Arts and College of Sciences.

Rodriguez introduced Dr. Patricia Alvarez-McHatton, dean of the College of Education and P-16 Integration, who addressed the graduates.

“I am humbled to be standing up here and having what I consider an intimate conversation,” McHatton said. “I want to say that this is your day, you have arrived. It is your graduation day,

and I’d like to tell you as you move forward that it is not that you have arrived, but that it is the journey you have taken. It is not ending today, but only beginning.”

Dr. Cynthia Brown, deputy provost, introduced the deans of each college, who presented the candidates for graduation and asked them to stand as they were confirmed and entitled to receive their respective degrees. 

Dr. Sylvia Leal, associate vice president for student educational outreach, announced the names of the graduates as they crossed the stage. 

Graduates lined up along the patio of the Student Union with their colleges to receive their degrees on stage and shake hands with Rodriguez and the dean of their college.

Alyssa Marie Ayala, 26, said she was thrilled to be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on early childhood education

“It honestly feels amazing that I have completed my degree in four and a half years of college, while raising a family,” said Ayala, a mother of three. “There have been so many times where I wanted to quit, but kept pushing on. And now it has finally paid off. Hard work really does pay. This road has been so stressful and difficult, but this accomplishment means everything to me.”

Ayala walked the stage having already landed a job with the La Villa Independent School District, as a fifth-grade teacher. Her family, including her three children – Alexis, 9, Frank, 6, and Levi, 1 – were right there to cheer for her as she was handed her diploma. 

The ceremony was concluded by the ceremonial ringing of the university bell by Susanna Perales and Rebeca Rodriguez, two graduates who were selected to ring the bell. 

After the bell was rung, Rodríguez, the provost, asked the graduates to move their tassels from the right side of their caps to the left. 

“Graduates, UTRGV is your university,” Provost Rodríguez said. “Student success is at the core of our institution. We want you to be successful. You have proven you can be successful. We look forward to your contributions in transforming the Rio Grande Valley, the state of Texas, the country, and yes, the world.”

More than 2,500 students will be graduating from UTRGV this weekend.

There will be three more ceremonies at the McAllen Convention Center on Saturday, Dec. 17:

·         9 a.m. – Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship and College of Health Affairs. 

·         1 p.m. – College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Education and P-16 Integration, College of Sciences.

·         5 p.m. – College of Liberal Arts and College of Fine Arts.

PHOTO GALLERY: https://www.flickr.com/gp/utrgvnews/pJ61f4

MEDIA CONTACTS  Victoria.Brito @UTRGV.edu 

UTRGV Informational Writer / 956-882-4330 Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu 

UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742