ENMU commencement ceremony set for Saturday

Argen Duncan

Sweet 16 and walking the stage.

Among the 484 spring graduates and 69 summer graduates eligible to participate in Eastern New Mexico University’s commencement Saturday is 16-year-old Hobbs resident and biology major Jessica McGraw, according to ENMU information. Her brother, John, expects to graduate at age 19 in December with a double major in biology and finance.

The siblings say they are no different from anyone else.

“The truth is that anybody can do what we’re doing,” John said in an ENMU article by Robin Haislett. “We are just like everyone else when it comes to our intelligence. All it takes is hard work and the willingness to commit the time it takes to get it done. It’s definitely not easy, but for anybody who really wants to do it badly enough, it can definitely be done.”

According to the article:

• The McGraws were home-schooled in seventh and eighth grade before starting dual-credit classes to earn both high school and college credit at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs.

• After both siblings earned associates in biology, they transferred to ENMU. Their father drives them from Hobbs to Portales for classes.

Jessica said she doesn’t believe she’s put getting a degree above the college experience. She said her experience is unique, just as anyone else’s is.

After graduation, both plan to pursue master’s degrees.

At ENMU’s commencement convocation, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is scheduled to give the keynote speech.

“I am honored to play a small part in such a special day for so many Eastern New Mexico students who are completing their degrees and will soon begin a new chapter of their lives,” Udall said in an emailed statement. “Our country is at a difficult and exciting point in its history, and this year’s graduates face the challenge of building a career in a changing economy. But I’m confident that ENMU has prepared them well to succeed in the field of their choice. With hard work and ingenuity, this new generation of professionals will make New Mexico an even better place to work, live and raise a family.”

Udall said he would share thoughts on the world graduates are entering and offer advice about what he’s learned, “including the importance of setting aside cynicism, building on shared beliefs and being kind to one another.”

ENMU President Steven Gamble said commencement planners try to choose as speakers influential people whose names graduates will recognize.

In the past, Gamble said, Udall wasn’t able to accept an invitation to speak at graduation. However, this year, the senator agreed to rearrange his schedule to come.

Gamble said commencement day is always wonderful.

“We get to award our graduates the diplomas they have worked so hard for, and their family and friends are there to see it,” he said.