By Bonnie J. Gordon
Published in the May 9 edition of the Los Alamos Daily Post
Reprinted with Permission
Kathy Keith, executive director of the Regional Development Corporation gave the convocation address. The RDC is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to create new jobs and a sustainable economy in northern New Mexico.
“I wake up and go to sleep thinking about jobs,” Keith said. The number one factor for business success is a qualified, well-prepared workforce, she said. “The challenge to our education system is to make sure graduates have the skills employers need.”
Competing in the global economy challenges both businesses and employees, Keith said. It’s not only specific knowledge that is important. Employees are looking for employees who can innovate, collaborate, solve problems and think critically, she said.
“Find a good job where you can contribute, or start a new venture where you can do well by doing good,” Keith urged the graduates.
Paul Edelmann spoke on behalf of students receiving degrees above the associate level. Edelmann was receiving his Doctor of Nuclear Engineer degree at the ceremony.
He shared some advice gleaned from his struggle to get his Ph.D. Edelmann advised the graduates to set a goal and replace it with a new one when it is achieved, be persistent and focused, remember that we can defeat evil with knowledge, tell the truth, live a life based on duty and have faith in God.
Melissa Torres spoke on behalf of those receiving associate’s degrees. Torres and her husband Paul are both enrolled at UNM-LA. The couple has three children and are members of San Ildefonso Pueblo. Torres was receiving her Associate of Science in Pre-Professional Health Science degree. Eventually, she plans to apply to a Ph.D. program in physical therapy at UNM.
Torres left school to raise her daughters and returned to college after 11 years.
“My husband and I were out of work and not very employable because we lacked skills,” Torres said. The couple discovered the Accelerate program at UNM-LA and are now on a path to good careers.
Returning to school was scary for Torres. “Don’t be afraid, just do it,” she urged.
Torres encouraged the graduates to celebrate their success. “This is a big deal and we deserve it,” she said. “We’ve reached this diploma and no one can take that away from us.”
This year’s graduation included 12 students from UNM-LA’s Fire Science Program. The group was the first to graduate from the program. UNM-LA Executive Director Cedric Page thanked Chief Troy Hughes and Capt. Joseph Candelaria of Los Alamos Fire Department for their contributions to the program’s success.
Page closed the ceremony by bidding farewell to Dean of Instruction Kate Massengale, who is retiring in June after many years of service at UNM-LA a member of the faculty and staff. The audience recognized Massengale with a standing ovation.