By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
With their families and friends in attendance, more than 40 Mesalands Community College graduates took the next step toward their future Friday night during commencement ceremonies at the Tucumcari Convention Center.
“You now have a higher education which is a privilege and an honor but with it comes responsibilities, said Barbara Damron, cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Higher Education Department.
Damron was the commencement speaker for the ceremony and shared with graduates some advice and wisdom about what lies ahead of them.
“Each of you graduates must now work to help shape the future,” Damron said. “To accomplish great things you must not only act, but dream, not only plan, but believe.”
Damron said the graduates must choose their path as they approach life. She urged them to remember that “the world owes you nothing; don’t go through life thinking about what the world owes you.”
Damron said that “much can shape your lives and many of you graduates come from challenging circumstances.” She said as they go through life they will see others that have more and others that have less than them.
“From my own experiences, I have seen privileges squandered and adversities can be overcome,” Damron said. “Seeing someone that has more privileges than you and letting it discourage you will never work.”
Damron said she came from humble beginnings, growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, where there were many who had more than she did. She said neither of her parents went to high school.
Damron said it’s important that the graduates not let their circumstances or the circumstances of others distract them from their potential.
“You need to decide what the next chapter is in your life and find your purpose in life,” Damron said.
Student speaker Ashlee Bradley, a Mesalands graduate and dual-enrollment student at Tucumcari High School, had given similar advice to her fellow graduates in an earlier speech.
Bradley said ambition is the first step to success and it was ambition that drove her and her fellow graduates to attend Mesalands. She said by earning their degrees and certificates, students have created countless opportunities for their future.
Damron said as the graduates move forward, whether it’s continuing their education or finding a job, it is important they remember, “Life is not fair.”
“You will more than likely will fail often. That is part of life, but you have to step up when things are the toughest,” Damron said.
Damron said when they are discouraged, graduates should think of the bumble bee. She said that “bumble bees are one of the most persistent creatures. Aerodynamically the bumble bee is unsound it should not be able to fly yet it takes flight.”
“They don’t know they can’t fly but they just keep buzzing around,” Damron said. “Like the bumble bee, honored graduates never give in to pessimism. Don’t know that you can not fly and you can soar like a eagle.”
Mesalands President Thomas Newsom closed out the ceremonies with a fable and personal tale of overcoming adversity.
Newsom said a man seeking the path to success asked a guru “Which way is success?” The guru pointed. He said the man ran off in the direction he was shown only to fall. Thinking he had misunderstood the guru, he went back and asked again, Newsom added.
Newsom said on his second try he went in the direction the guru pointed only to once again fall hard. He said angry the man shouted at the guru, “I asked you to show me the path to success only to fall and go splat!” The guru replied, “Success is that way, it’s just past the splat,” Newsom added.
“The ‘splat’ is something that each of you are going to encounter,” Newsom said. “You will have to move past the ‘splats’ in life in order to reach success.”
Newsom said recently he climbed the wind turbine at Mesalands for the first time. He said it was by far one of the most physically challenging things he has done.
“I kept pushing forward and the satisfaction and reward I felt once I reached the top was amazing,” Newsom said. “Its is your turn now to push forward and find success.”
Damron said as the higher education secretary, she likes to work closely with the state’s institutions. She said Mesalands is meeting many of the college needs in the state.
“The wind turbines program is amazing, the only one like it in the entire country,” Damron said.
Damron said Mesalands meets the needs of rural Eastern New Mexico by helping students graduate with a high school equivalence and earning certificates and associate degrees.