Special to The Flash from Tommy Wells
Ranger College Public Information Officer/Sports Information Director
BROWNWOOD – Heather Merket, a former high school volleyball standout at Colorado City, and Katie Wells, a former high school basketball star at Strawn, found plenty in common with chart-topping singer Adele on Thursday evening in front of a standing-room-only crowd in the Coggin Avenue Baptist Church. They were, after all, saying hello from the other side.
The other side of collegiate world, that is.
Merket and Wells were among 51 graduates earning diplomas during Ranger College’s commencement exercise. In all 13 students graduated from with Associate of Arts degrees while six more earned Associate of Arts degrees. Additionally, 16 graduated with Associate of Applied Science degrees as part of the Ranger College Nursing, and 16 completed the Ranger College Cosmetology program.
“It feels very exciting to reach this point,” said Wells, a 2009 graduate of Strawn who worked her way through college as a waitress at Mary’s Café. “I’m thrilled to have done this, and I’m so thankful for my family’s support in helping me do this. This is a great feeling.”
Merket, who starred on the RC women’s volleyball team, and Stephenville’s Mackenzie Mayes agreed. A Pre-Med student, Mayes said her Associate of Science degree was exciting and moved her closer her ultimate goal.
“It’s just a step forward,” she said. “Now I will enroll at Tarleton (State University) and continue my education.”
Merket, too, said she would enroll at a 4-year institution to attain her Bachelor’s degree
Ranger College President William J. Campion urged all the graduates to press on with their education.
“We congratulate each of you here tonight and want you to know we are proud of you,” said Ranger College President William J. Campion during the ceremony. “Life is pretty interesting. We only cross this way once and from here on, you will all go forward and begin a new chapter in your lives. Statistics says that 82 percent of students who get an Associate’s degree will not go on. I want to encourage you to take that next step. Keep moving forward.”
Dr. Orlando Moreno, the Vice-President of Ranger College’s Brownwood/Early campus also commended the students for the efforts, saying each had made a valuable investment in their futures with the accomplishments.
“This is an exciting time for the students and the faculty,” said Moreno. “All the hard work you have put in to get to this point is a big investment into your futures, and those of the people who have helped you get here.”
The graduates also received the praise of State Rep. Susan Lewis King, who served as the event’s guest speaker. A former RN, King commended each student for their dedication and hard work, and urged each one to take what they have accomplished and turn it into a passion for serving others. Through that, she said, they could leave a positive impact on our society while also having enjoyable and fulfilling careers.
“Tonight, you realize your accomplishments, your responsibilities.” said King, who often left the audience laughing with a engaging sense of humor. “You will also realize there are tremendous opportunities, for the most part. Probably if you are 5-foot-2, you not going to be playing professional basketball, but there will be plenty of opportunities in front of you.”
As part of her speech, King said she urged each graduate to remember three important things as they move forward, including the desire to continue learning, the importance of using their gifts and talents to help others and to enjoy what they do. Striving to accomplish those three things, she said, would ensure that the years ahead of them would lead to a good life.
“Know that you are now the one that is responsible for your own career and that you are your best advocate. If you have a burning desire to try something, you have the responsibility to yourself to try,” said King, who is running for the District 24 seat in the state Senate.
King also urged the students to recognize those who have helped them get to where they are, whether that be veterans who have served in the military to protect American freedom and lives, or friends and family members who supported them. That fabric of support, she reminded them, was a key to their accomplishments and one that should be paid back in the future.
“When you reach out to serve someone else, you will discover it is a force that will pull you forward. I encourage you to get up, go out, and help someone else.”
Ranger College Fall Commencement
Associate of Arts
Edwin Alejandro Carrillo, Eastland, TX
Amanda Jeffrey, Comanche, TX
Kathy Marcom, Breckenridge, TX
Kendall Modena-Lee Noles, Eastland, TX
Jessica Lynn Schulze, Blanket, TX
Gerlina Jean Warden, Stephenville, TX
Associate of Science
Dawson W. Adams, Middleton, TN
Ana Alfaro, Brady, TX
Anthony William Carrillo, Anthon, IA
Colby James Childress, Del Rio, TX
Darby Leigh Davis, Arlington, TX
Shelly Delbosque, Comanche, TX
Hunter Reed Dennis, Weatherford, TX
Shelby Boyd, Stephenville, TX
Crystal Marie Cline, Brownwood, TX
Dawn Marie Dittoe, Stephenville, TX
Kali Eason, Stephenville, TX
Khristi Gordon, Stephenville, TX
Dorine Shaterra Johnson, Bridgeton, NJ
Kristy Le’Anne Joyner, Brownwood, TX
Cheyenne Kennedy, Stephenville, TX
Payton Re’An Matthews, Era, TX
Katherine Leann Neal, Stephenville, TX
Deborah Lynn Perkinson, Brownwood, TX
Judy Marie Shank, Brownwood, TX
Kenzie Slocum, Boyd, TX
Erica Leigh Sosa Torres, Brownwood, TX
Lynne Michelle Whitehead, Dublin, TX
Associates of Applied Science
Chad Ray Boone, Gorman, TX
Miriam Chapa, Bangs, TX
Michelle Latricia Cox, May, TX
Jennifer Lanell Duffie, Brownwood, TX
Courtney Annette Etheridge, Brownwood, TX
Brooke Nichole Farris, San Angelo, TX
Danielle Lynn Graves, Stephenville, TX
Shelby Joy Hardy, Hardy, TX
Chelsey Diane Jones, Coleman, TX
Amy Jackson McCraig, Goldthwaite, TX
Lee Jay Newton, Bangs, TX
Jamie Lynn Perella-Brown, Ranger, TX
Jessica M. Polka, Bangs, TX
Chantel Elizabeth Salazar, Santa Anna, TX
Barbara Joleyne Skeen, Brady, TX
Alexandra Nicole Vannoy, Aledo, TX