For the second consecutive year, New Mexico Junior College graduates received their degrees, certificates or high school equivalency diplomas through a virtural ceremony.
The ceremony took place Friday, May 7, with a broadcast from inside Watson Hall. The graduates, their parents and friends were able to watch the commencement via Facebook or Livestream.
It was the school’s 53rd consecutive graduation.
Director of Communications, Susan Fine, said last week that last year’s experience with a virtual graduation led her and other college officials to refine the ceremony and include all the elements of a traditional ceremony albeit without the physical presence of students and spectators.
As the familiar strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” were played, Vice President of Instruction Larry Sanderson, NMJC president Kelvin Sharp, and master of ceremonies, Steve Saucedo mounted the stage. They were followed by members of the faculty carrying banners representing each degree or certificate to be awarded during the ceremony. Banners, in red and gold, the colors of the college, included the NMJC banner, a high school equivalency banner, Associate of Arts banner, Associate of Science banner, and Associate of Applied Science banner.
Members of the Hobbs Fire Department and the Hobbs Police Department then presented the colors and police officer Reanna Alarcon sang the national anthem.
Only Sanderson, Sharp and Saucedo remained on stage as the ceremony progressed. They, like all the other participants, wore masks, removing them only when they addressed the virtual audience. To the right of the computer screen, a sign language interpreter signed the ceremony.
Sanderson addressed Sharp before presentation of degrees for each school, telling him that each of the candidates for the degree or certificate had met the qualifications and recommending that Sharp confer the degree. Sharp responded each time by conferring the degrees and congratulating the graduates.
Names of the 202 graduates were read and pictures of graduates who submitted pictures were showed on screen. Some graduates wore their red caps and gowns, while others dressed less formally. Honors earned by graduates were announced with their names.
Diplomas, cords, stoles and other graduation regalia will be mailed to graduates, along with a congratulatory letter from Sharp.
Although 202 students graduated, 15 earned more than one degree, so that 217 degrees were awarded. Of the 202 graduates, 81 earned honors. Eleven students earned high school equivalency diplomas. There were 66 students who will graduate either at the end of summer school or at the end of the fall semester provided they complete what remains of fewer than 12 hours of academic study by that time.
After all students received their announcements, Sharp commended them for their hard work and challenged them to pursue the next step in their lives, whether continuing with more education or pursuing a career, with the same determination they showed as students at New Mexico Junior College.
The program ended with a musical recessional as the platform participants stepped down amid gold confetti, interspersed with gold stars tossed by the magic of the Internet, fell from the virtual ceiling.