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Islander Graduates from All Five Colleges Receive Diplomas at Fall Commencement

December 12, 2015

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – More than 780 students from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi received their diplomas on December 12, during the fall 2015 commencement ceremony at the American Bank Center. The ceremony began at 10 a.m. and was open to the public. Anyone who was not able to attend the ceremony can watch a playback of the ceremony at commencement.tamucc.edu.

Students from the College of Education, College of Business, College of Liberal Arts, College of Science and Engineering and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences were presented with diplomas.

This semester’s outstanding graduates included:

  • Kathryn Mendenhall: Mendenhall graduated with Master of Science in Fisheries and Mariculture. During her time at the Island University, Mendenhall maintained a 4.0 GPA and has worked as a Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant. She earned three scholarships and was selected at the A&M-Corpus Christi Outstanding Master’s Student of 2015. Mendenhall’s graduate research had her out in Baffin Bay, collecting information to ultimately help fisheries managers and policymakers have a better understanding of the Baffin Bay food web, and prepare for or respond to fish starvation events that may happen in the future. Read more about Mendenhall here.
  • Alicia De Los Santos and Rolando Lira: De Los Santos and Lira, both dedicated registered nurses and nurse educators, graduated with Master’s of Science in Nursing – Nurse Educator degrees they earned as online students. Lira and De Los Santos met in 2003 when De Los Santos was a student in Lira’s vocational nursing class at South West Texas Junior College in Del Rio, Texas, and the two are now co-workers at that institution. Through persistence, commitment, passion and family support, this dynamic duo has been able to excel in the workplace and obtain their master’s degrees. Read more about De Los Santos and Lira here.
  • Saumya Arora: Arora, who graduated with a Ph.D. in Counselor Education, had planned from a young age to have a career in helping people. In August 2015, Arora successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, and that same day, she left for Arizona, where she accepted a position at Northern Arizona University as a Clinical Assistant Professor. She returned to Corpus Christi to walk the stage. Arora grew up in India, and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in her home country. While at the Island University, Arora was employed as Adjunct Faculty and a Teaching Assistant. Arora says her mother, who traveled from India to attend graduation, gave her the confidence to achieve her academic dreams. Read more about Arora here.
  • Karyn Salazar: Salazar graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English. The first-generation college student faced several challenges during her time as an Islander, including the shocking diagnosis of ovarian cancer at the age of 23. During her last semester of college, she withdrew from classes to undergo 12 weeks of chemotherapy. On July 23, 2015, Salazar was finally in remission, and started her last semester of classes this fall. She was recently hired as a Peer Mentor for the First Scholars' Academy Program in the Center for Academic Student Achievement at A&M-Corpus Christi and offers guidance and support to first-generation college students. Read more about Salazar here.

Robert L. Albritton was the commencement speaker. In January, Albritton was appointed to the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents by Governor Greg Abbott. He also serves as member of the Committee on Finance and the Committee on Buildings and Physical Plant. He is a liaison for the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets and System Military Training Programs.