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More than 840 Students Walk the Stage During Island University Fall 2017 Commencement Ceremonies

December 16, 2017

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Students from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi concluded many years of hard work and determination today, Saturday, Dec. 16 at the American Bank Center located in downtown Corpus Christi. More than 840 Island University students from all five of colleges walked the stage and received their diplomas during two fall 2017 commencement ceremonies.

In honor of commencement, the Islander Alumni Association made arrangements with the city of Corpus Christi to light the Harbor Bridge in Islander blue and green from Dec. 11, through Sunday, Dec. 17.

Dr. Kelly Quintanilla, President and CEO of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, kicked-off each ceremony when she encouraged all of the graduates to go out into their chosen career fields and make a difference.

“Every graduate in this room can stand tall and be proud of the fact that you have graduated from this University,” she said to the packed house. “While you were here, not only did you gather memories that will last you a lifetime but you gathered knowledge that has shaped you into a leader – a leader, an Islander, who will go out into our communities and make an impact.”

This year’s commencement speaker was Mr. Charles W. Schwartz, Chairman of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, who gave his version of, “The Great American Commencement Speech.”

“I understand that many of you are first-generation college students, it’s a great accomplishment,” said Schwartz. “Today, you have changed your life and the lives of the rest of your family – so be sure to thank those who supported you along the way.”

Among the 840 graduates were:

Ashley Tijerina: After years of hard work, Ashley Tijerina is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a social work minor. A single mother, Tijerina knew that her education and work ethic would influence her daughter, Blakelyn, who looks up to her. Working two jobs and with a full class load, she succeeded in, graduating from college with honors and is totally debt free. It has been a long, challenging road, but Tijerina has strived forward and achieved her goals. After graduation, she plans to become a private investigator. To read more about Tijerina, click here.

Donna Bailey: For the past six years – that’s 18 semesters – Donna Bailey has worked harder than most to complete her degree. Bailey originally enrolled at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 1999, but when a severe accident left her paralyzed from the neck down, she knew she couldn’t stop living her life. Bailey, who is confined to a wheelchair and must use the assistance of a ventilator, plans to finally “roll across” the stage to receive her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a minor in Sports Marketing. Now that she is nearing graduation, Bailey encourages others to “fly to the stars and fulfill their dreams.” To read more about Donna Bailey, click here.

Taylor Dearman and Skittles the service Dog: Almost four years ago, Taylor Dearman’s life was changed when she met Skittles, a medical alert service dog. At her previous university, Dearman experienced anxiety, severe depression and seizures causing her to quit school and move to Georgia, where she met Skittles. Since then, Skittles has been by her side constantly, including when she walks across the stage to obtain her diploma in Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary EC-6 Reading Generalist. Both Dearman and Skittles are looking forward to starting their new job as fifth-grade Reading Teachers for Kostoryz Elementary. To read more about Dearman and Skittles, click here.