Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Donna Gutierrez
ROSWELL – A group of 33 students enrolled in the Special Services Occupational Training Program at ENMU-Roswell received completion certificates and words of encouragement during the 15th annual graduation ceremony on campus July 25.
The Special Services program, under the direction of Linda Green, provides educational training and adaptive equipment for students with disabilities. After graduation, most students are able to find employment and live independently.
In her welcoming remarks, Green thanked the parents for their support, saying they have all "weathered some growing pains and rejoiced in successes." Green also thanked the administration led by Dr. Judy Armstrong, ENMU-R provost, the instructors and the staff for their commitment to students with disabilities. Armstrong, Dr. Dwight Rogers, dean of Instruction, and Ronnie Birdsong, vice president for University Relations and Enrollment Services at ENMU, all congratulated the graduates, urging them to take their new knowledge and skills to pursue their employment goals.
Student speaker Walene Lucero of the Laguna Acoma Pueblo received a certificate in child care. She said many of her fellow graduates were now her friends and she thanked them for making her laugh and giving her encouragement. She said she wanted to prove to her parents she could be independent and she thanked her parents for their help, otherwise she would not have come to ENMU-Roswell.
The second student speaker was Amalia Garcia, who received a certificate in nursing assisting. She is already a full-time employee at Casa Maria Health Care Center. Garcia thanked her instructors for giving her the skills she needed to get her job and be successful at it.
The featured speaker was Judie Hunter of the Houston, Texas, area, whose son Kris Lowe graduated from the Special Services Program last year. Despite some setbacks, Hunter said the program was just what her son needed and now she "pushes the program with all her heart across Texas," because she has found nothing comparable. She said parents have to often step in as advocates for their children and "give them permission to make mistakes and to grow."
She said every graduate was a winner and a star, and encouraged students to always persevere and follow their dreams and surround themselves with positive people. "Always have a plan A and a plan B, so you'll never be disappointed," she advised. She told students to always look their best, look people in the eye, and "face the world with a smile."
Taking from the theme used during the recent Olympic Winter Games XIX, Hunter told the audience that "their fire is our inspiration."
ENMU-Roswell held Special Services Occupational Training Program graduation exercises on July 25. Here, one graduate is congratulated by Dr. Dee Rogers, dean of Instruction at ENMU--R; Ronnie Birdsong, vice president for University Relations and Enrollment Services at ENMU-P; and Dr. Judy Armstrong, provost of ENMU-R.
(photo by Donna Gutierrez)