College President Beatriz Espinoza said, “This is one of the largest classes in Coastal Bend College history.”
An estimated 550 students would receive their diplomas during two ceremonies that day inside the college gym.
“We pride ourselves on teaching and inspiring students but many times they teach us,” she said.
Former CBC graduate Dr. Kerry Keith Mix, San Jacinto College dean of enrollment services, stood before the crowd of students.
Espinoza said, “His time as a CBC student and an instructor helped give him the knowledge and experience he needed to embark on a career in higher education where he helps transform students each and every day.”
Mix said that he wasn’t nervous when he was first asked to give the graduation speech.
“It is not a big deal. I actually sat in this gym 13 years ago and heard someone give one,” he said.
Since then he has been to three other graduation ceremonies and heard speakers talk.
Mix attained an associate of applied science degree in electronic servicing from CBC in 2001. In addition, he earned a bachelor of applied arts and science degree in computer information systems and a master of education degree in administration and supervision from the University of Houston-Victoria.
He then went on to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin’s Community College Leadership Program with a doctorate in educational administration.
Since 2011, Mix has served as the dean of enrollment services for San Jacinto College’s South Campus located in Houston.
What he offered that morning though was a reminder to these young people, who would each soon be receiving their diplomas, of the importance of building relationships with those around them.
It could be with the teachers they had through the years.
“Was there anyone in your tenure here that helped you become success?” he asked of them.
The answer could also be friends or parents.
For him it was someone years before that guided him. A teacher who, after learning he had not read the assignment, simply stated, “I am disappointed in you.”
Those words resonated with him and he went back and did the work, not wanting to disappoint someone who he felt truly believed in him.
Eventually it landed him at the college in Beeville.
“Like you, Coastal Bend College was a great piece of my academic foundation.
“I learned quickly that community colleges were the foundation of the American workforce,” he said.
He posed a challenge to all of the students, reminding them that it is now up to them to use what they have learned to improve their community and to be mentors to those they meet.
“What will people say when you are gone? Are you going to be your community’s future?” he asked.
And in a final parting thought, he reminded them of the importance of giving back to the community but also to the college from where they came.
“We are judged by the things we do, but more often by the things we do not do,” he said.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.