UNM-Los Alamos held its graduation ceremony Thursday at the First Baptist Church in Los Alamos.
Commencement Speaker Stephanie Garcia Richard is the State House Representative for New Mexico District 43, which includes Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Sandoval counties and she also is a third grade teacher at Pablo Roybal Elementary School in Pojoaque.
Garcia Richard earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Barnard College, Columbia University and her teaching certificate from The University of California in Los Angeles.
Garcia Richard spoke extemporaneously after her teenage daughter panned her speech. “I’m going to talk to you rather than read the speech,” she said.
“Think back over the months and years that it took you to get here,” Garcia Richard said. “Think back to the person who knew you would finish … we’re here to celebrate the people who helped you get here … honor that person by going on to bigger and better things.”
Speaking on behalf of those students receiving associate’s degrees and certificates, Katie Pecos noted the many important events that have happened on May 7, including Beethoven’s completion of the “Ninth Symphony.”
“Now we are taking the first step into the world,” Pecos said. “This is only the beginning. The struggles and heart aches of our lives so far have brought us to tonight.”
When Pecos began at UNM-LA, she was at a low point in her life and not sure where she wanted to go from that point on. It was in Dr. Melanie Shirk’s Western Civilization class that Pecos “discovered who I was.” She credited her teachers with much of her academic success.
Pecos also credited her family for her success. Pecos is a member of Cochiti Pueblo. Her father was raised by his grandmother and overcame odds stacked against him to get a Master’s of Industrial Engineering. “When I was little, he would study all night and work all day,” she said. “He had the dedication I see now in my teachers.”
GED graduate speaker Lachlin Snow is a resident at Delancey Street, a residential treatment and recovery center in Velarde. “I dropped out of high school and got in some trouble, but now I’m on a good path,” he said. “I plan to go right on with my education.” Snow is thinking of a career in marine biology.
At the ceremony, Patrick Harris, chair of the Fine Arts Department received the Bobbye Straight Faculty Initiative Award, which provides either time off from teaching with pay or cash for a project.
Harris plans to digitize the art work currently only available as slides or in books. This will allow students better access to the work they are studying.
See the Graduation/Convocation Program with names of all the graduates here.