Graduates from the Island University’s Five Colleges Receive Diplomas at Summer Commencement

August 09, 2014

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A total of 465 students representing Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s five colleges, received their diplomas during the summer 2014 commencement ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the American Bank Center arena. There was one ceremony, which included all five colleges.

The graduates included:

  • Valerie Hudgens, whose husband, Jerry, was diagnosed with prostate cancer, knew that she would need the right network of support in order to finish her Masters of Science in Nursing. Throughout the battle against cancer, the couple cheered each other on to overcome any challenge they faced. During classes, Hudgens worked at and supported her husband during chemotherapy treatments at MD Anderson, Houston. While undergoing chemotherapy Jerry remained Hudgens biggest source of support and encouragement. The family was able to celebrate Hudgens’ graduation with Jerry present at the commencement ceremony. 
  • Almost 5,000 miles separated Kaitlin Hibbs, who is one of the first Islanders to have earned the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate, from her fellow Islander and husband, 2nd Lt. Jesus Pena. Hibbs recently returned from a study abroad program in Scotland, where she participated in an applied experience project for the Dalkeith Estate and served as a voluntary note taker for Disability Services. Her husband, who graduated in spring 2013, is serving in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant and is stationed at Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert. Hibbs will graduate with her Bachelor of Arts in English from the Island University and intends to pursue graduate school as well as earn a Ph.D. in English.

The commencement keynote speaker was Dr. Belle Wheelan, President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Wheelan, whose career spans 40 years, is the first African American woman to serve as a college president. She attributes her success to hard work, endurance, tenacity, and being in the right place at the right time.

Wheelan has received many awards and recognitions throughout her career including the American Association of Community Colleges Leadership Award in 2011; the John E. Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s International Leadership Award in 2010; and the Suanne Davis Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Distinguished Lecturer Award in 2007.