By Nick Stern, Copy Editor, and Daniel Johnson, Investigative Reporter | Photo by Daniel Johnson
CNM’s spring graduation ceremony was held on Saturday, May 3 at Tingley Coliseum where, for the first time in the college’s history, students involved with the brand new dual-credit College and Career High School walked with the rest of the graduates.
A total of 659 students from all the schools at CNM participated in the graduation ceremony, 85 were GED graduates and nine were College and Career High School graduates.
The CCHS graduates were the very first students to be enrolled in the new program which gave them a chance to finish their high school diploma while simultaneously earning a college certificate, two-year degree, or credits toward a bachelor’s degree, which would place them ahead of the game the following college semester in their college careers.
The ceremony also implemented the use of new massive flat screen projectors of the event that lined each side of the stage, and allowed for a much better view of the proceedings, since Tingley Coliseum is such a large venue.
Director of Communications Brad Moore said that the addition of the new rear flat screen projectors where audience members could see loved ones close up for the first time at graduation was a fruitful decision and improved the view for everyone, especially the family members of graduates.
“Adding the video boards was a way for CNM to provide family members and supporters much better views of the graduates and the ceremony on stage. The video boards were a great addition to the ceremony,” Moore said.
A local celebrity was also created when dual schooled student, Emily Watson graduated with her associate’s in liberal arts and studio arts degrees alongside her parents, and doing so before even finishing her high school diploma.
Emily Watson walked with her mother, Kelly Watson who received degrees in general studies, liberal arts, history and fine arts, and her father Jarrod Watson who received a degree in drafting, liberal arts, and a certificate in general studies, she said.
Emily Watson and her parents were pleasantly surprised and excited when they realized they were so close to graduating at the same time and decided they would make the plans which eventually put all three of them in their caps and gowns at the exact same time, Kelly Watson said.
“It is kind of amazing that it worked out that way. We did not have any idea it was going to track like that until the last year and we started planning our final year and were like ‘I think this is going to happen,’” Kelly Watson said.
As a family of mostly students, they had to sell one of their cars and soon after, while Emily and Kelly Watson wound up carpooling with the second car, Jarrod Watson made use of the CNM bus pass to get to his ATC courses, Emily Watson said.
Jarrod Watson even made a color-coded spreadsheet which was used to figure out how to make everyone’s school schedules fit together with the rest of their time and transportation, Kelly Watson said.
“She and I would try to schedule 95 percent of our classes together and online whenever possible. It actually worked out alright,” Kelly Watson said.
Roughly two weeks after the CNM graduation ceremony, Emily Watson also walked with her fellow high school students at the graduation ceremony for the SAMS Academy where she was the student speaker.
Emily Watson plans on going to UNM to study art education with the hopes of getting a job teaching children with disabilities, she said.
Emily Watson’s advice to any and all CNM students who may need it was to make sure to persevere no matter how rough the road may seem to be.
“Do not give up. It is not easy but as long as you just keep going you’ll make it —every day just start over fresh,” Emily Watson said.
Kelly Watson also had similarly wonderful advice for students, which was to encourage them to stay positive and take smaller steps towards the larger goal by not obsessing over the uncertainty of the future, she said.
“Every day is just one day closer to the end so you just have to do it one day at a time, sometimes when it gets rough,” Kelly Watson said.
The keynote speaker for the ceremony was the Honorable Judge Willow Misty Parks, who on top of being a CNM alumna, was also voted in as the distinguished CNM Alumna by the Alumni Foundation.
Parks’ speech involved a recollection of her remarkable and inspirational story of her journey from the pursuit of her education to her induction as Bernalillo’s one and only probate judge.
The student speaker was computer information systems major Regina Thompson, whose speech seemed to not only captivate the audience, but also succeeded in capturing quite a few laughs from the crowd.
In her speech, Parks talked about her challenge of summing up everything she had gone through with just 500 words and ended the speech by jokingly saying, “500 words!? I can’t do that.”
The speech’s ending seemed to almost poke fun at the first feelings of hesitation that she and many others have undoubtedly had about being able to get through college, and like her speech, she and 659 students were able to graduate after all.