With Eastern New Mexico University’s commencement scheduled for Saturday, the graduates walking the stage come from different walks of life.
According to information from ENMU, the university has 297 candidates for graduation this semester, 31 of whom are from Portales.
Assistant Professor of Biology Kenwyn Cradock is set to give the keynote speech. He said he felt honored to be given such a responsibility as the address.
“Basically it’s going to focus around the idea that graduation is a beginning, not an end,” Cradock said, adding that he would also tell graduates their degrees obligated them to contribute to society, whether at the global or local level.
Daylight Donuts co-owner Sandy Floyd’s son, Jared Floyd, is graduating with a bachelor of science in biology. She said for her, the significance in her son completing his degree lies in watching him grow up and achieve his dreams.
“It’s a chance to celebrate what he’s achieved in these past years,” Floyd said.
The biology program required a lot of studying, she said, and she and her husband, Thane Floyd, are proud of their son for finishing the degree.
Here’s a look at a few of the other Portales residents graduating:
Portales Police Department Lt. Mark Cage, 46, earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences while working as a police officer and serving in the U.S. Navy Reserves.
He said he was more excited about the degree than he thought he’d be. He plans to teach at Clovis Community College while continuing with the police department.
Cage began his college career in 2002 at CCC after returning from deployment and then transferred to ENMU in 2005.
“I’m a late bloomer,” he said.
With increased GI Bill benefits, Cage wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and thought a degree would help his career. Cage said he finished his degree requirements 1 1/2 years ago, but didn’t apply for graduation until now.
Cage said he had a lot of help, especially from his adviser, Paul Lockman.
“I’d have probably given up a few times if it hadn’t been for him kicking me in the butt,” Cage said.
On a family note, just before Cage graduates on Saturday, his 21-year-old son, Richard, is graduating from the Hobbs branch of the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Friday.
Candidate for graduation Jacob Senn, 22, of Portales is applying for internships in theater tech work. In the long term, he hopes to manage the stage for a theater, ideally in England, although he doesn’t mind being elsewhere.
Senn said he had mixed emotions about graduating.
“On one hand, it’s a really good feeling having accomplished it,” he said.
Still, Senn said he’s nervous about looking for internships and stepping out of the educational setting.
“I talk about being nervous, but it’s a good nervous,” Senn said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Senn’s sister, Jennifer, also graduated from the ENMU Theatre Department, and both their parents work for the university.
Portales Municipal Schools choir teacher Franklin Smith is graduating with his master’s in education Saturday.
“I think it’s a great accomplishment,” he said. “I’m thankful that I was able to go to school while teaching choir full time as well.”
Smith’s course work led him to work to form connections with English language learners and think about what he was doing in class, he said.
It’s possible to go to school while working and having a family, he said, but the student must stay organized and on top of assignments.
“I really have an incredible wife who really helps me stay focused and encourages me in everything I do,” Smith continued.
Smith said he decided to earn a master’s after receiving $4,000 for professional development because of winning a Golden Apple educator’s award. He said he also believes it’s important to be a life-long learner.