Experiences of loss, triumph shared at record-setting STC graduation
South Texas College confers over 3,700 degrees in six ceremonies
Among a sea of colorful stoles and the many elaborate hats worn by South Texas College graduates, America Noriega carried a solemn reminder of a promise she made to her brother Kevin Noriega before his passing in 2017.
Holding a photo of her brother as she walked across the stage to receive her bachelor degree in Organizational Leadership on May 18, America said Kevin was a mentor who encouraged her to achieve her goals when he graduated from Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma.
“I carry a photo of him whenever I receive a major accomplishment because him and I were extremely close. He was my best friend and my motivation,” America said. ‘Whenever I saw him walk across the stage at his own graduation, I remember he always let me know how important it was to keep moving forward.
“Today as I walked the stage, even though he couldn’t be here physically, I just wanted to carry my frame as I walked the stage so he could feel alive with me as I received my diploma,” America said.
“Graduating from a college or university is an honor few receive. Many of you are the first in your family to earn a college degree. That dream and the desire to go to college is appreciated by all of us here.We were there to support you on your journey to graduation, and we all know that it wasn’t an easy journey. There were lots of trials and tribulations, but you persevered and you are here celebrating your graduation. We are very proud of each and every one of you.”
America was among the record 3,749 graduates who received their degree in six ceremonies May 17-18. Ceremonies for 1,777 dual credit graduates took place on Friday May 17, and the ceremony for 1,972 traditional graduates took place on May 18.
“This is the day we honor you, our graduates. We are here to celebrate your graduation from South Texas College. All of us at STC, the Board of Trustees, our outstanding faculty, staff and administration all join me in extending this welcome,” STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed told graduates.
“Graduating from a college or university is an honor few receive,” Dr. Reed said. “Many of you are the first in your family to earn a college degree. That dream and the desire to go to college is appreciated by all of us here.
“We were there to support you on your journey to graduation, and we all know that it wasn’t an easy journey. There were lots of trials and tribulations, but you persevered and you are here celebrating your graduation,” Dr. Reed said. “We are very proud of each and every one of you.”
STC awarded 137 bachelor degrees, 803 degrees from the Business, Public Safety, and Technology Division, 1,818 from Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, 543 from the Division of Math and Science, and 448 from Nursing and Allied Health.
Faces in the crowd:
Describing himself as the quintessential “go-to guy” for computer related issues, Luis Garcia said South Texas College took his natural ability and refined it into something he could use to market himself to business and industry in the real world.
Luis said he started at STC in the fall of 2016 and immediately sought out a degree that could supplement his experience in computer networking and PC repair. About halfway through his courses however, he realized that he had the requisites to begin an associate degree in Cybersecurity.
While at STC, Luis said he has received certification in computer network and repair, and is certified by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) for installing, maintaining, customizing, and operating personal computers.
“After I graduate, I plan on applying for jobs that are actively looking for cybersecurity professionals, and in order to do that, I have to stand out from the crowd,” Luis said. “I believe I have the real world experience and the certifications to really make an impact in a big market here in the Valley.”
Alexis Longoria received her Associate of Arts in Teaching on May 18. After becoming a mother at the age of 19, Alexis says receiving her degree fulfills a promise she made to her family when she vowed to return to college once her son became older.
“South Texas College helped me become the person I am today with their flexible schedules,” Alexis said. “I could even attend classes at 5:30 in the morning before my day started, so it was very convenient. I am happy, and I know I will succeed in life thanks to STC.”
Eddie Torres completed his Bachelor of Applied Technology looks forward to his career working for the Educational Technologies department at South Texas College.
“I have finally finished school and I’m looking forward to a new beginning,” said Eddie. “As the first in my family to go to college, just being here was a challenge sometimes because I had no one to instruct me on those important first steps to get me started so that was the hardest part for me.”
After serving in the Army for 21 years, Guadalupe Bravo said he was able to attend South Texas College and receive his Electrician Assistant certification. Wearing a red stole at graduation along with other student veterans, Bravo said he utilized the college’s many resources to help succeed.
“I would encourage other veterans to think about coming to school,” Bravo said. “I will always recommend that veterans take advantage because it has helped me when I left combat.”