By Helena Rodriguez: CNJ staff writer
Chesnea Fish is one small farming town girl who was not ready for a four-year university atmosphere, and that is what led her to seek and complete a degree at Clovis Community College.
“CCC has provided me with the smaller steps I needed in order to prepare me for that scary university atmosphere,” Fish told a packed audience during the Clovis Community College graduation ceremony Friday night at Marshall Junior High School Auditorium in Clovis.
Fish was one of more than 100 students awarded associate’s degrees or certificates of completion from CCC on Friday night. She plans to enroll in a four-year university, Eastern New Mexico University, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
As she looked out into the audience, Fish, one of two student speakers, said, “All of us have the potential to make a positive contribution, and so I ask you, my fellow graduates, and the audience, ‘What contribution will you make?’”
She also quoted Mark Twain, saying, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
Like many of the students who graduated from CCC Friday night, Alejandra Cabral had to juggle her time between studies, work and children.
“The hardest part was working, taking care of my kids, ages 7 and 8, and going to school full-time,” Cabral said.
The 28-year-old mother of two plans to continue her studies at ENMU and pursue a degree in education.
Another featured speaker, Ivelis Perdomo, also spoke out to nontraditional students who have had to postpone their education, like her, because of children. The native New Yorker chose to stay home and home-school her children during their early years.
“Like many of you, it’s been years since I received my high school diploma. With hard work and motivation, it is never too late,” Perdomo said. “I was driven hard and worked hard to make up for lost time.”
Perdomo also thanked her art instructors for steering her toward a career in art and tearfully thanked her mother who flew in from New York to attend the commencement ceremony.