More than 2,500 Houston Community College students walked across the stage at NRG Stadium at commencement Saturday.
According to college officials, HCC graduated 2,640 students and an estimated 19,000 attended the college’s graduation. The class of 2016 graduated with associate degrees in science, arts, teaching or applied science, as well as with certificates in various workforce fields from cosmetology, welding, paralegal to public safety.
“What you are accomplishing today is to be admired, it shows that you are committed and you’re up for any challenge,” said HCC Board of Trustee Chair Adriana Tamez.
“This is what you deserve. Through sleepless nights, you have gotten to this very moment,” said United Student Council President Josue Rodriguez.
The speeches at commencement both recognized student’s achievements and inspired them.
“You walk in a pathway of your ancestors—whatever your walk of life. You walk with a heightened dignity, you walk against all obstacles,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, “I don’t know the trials and tribulations that you have overcome but I know that you have gone across the bridge. No one can turn you around.”
Houston Texans President Jamey Roots was the keynote speaker at commencement.
He reminded student that, “It’s not the will to win that matters, everybody has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that makes all the difference. All of you have demonstrated that you have the will to prepare to win in the most important game of all—your life.”
“After today, all of you have to redefine what winning means to you,” Roots encouraged students to think about what their next goal will be now that they’ve graduated from HCC.
Roots told graduates to ask themselves what they love to do, “whatever it is, pursue it aggressively. If you are passionate about your daily work, you will have the energy, courage and the perseverance needed to be great. And if you are great at what you do, you will build the confidence and respect from others that are around you.”
Roots also asked that graduates think about what makes them special. “Find a way to do it everyday in your work, not just something…the real key to victory is not found in overcoming your weaknesses you must find your strengths and you must differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace.”
“It is your responsibility to find a role that will allow you to do what you do best every day,” said Roots.
Roots also encouraged graduates to “creating raving fans,” not just friends or associates, but “loyal advocates who would gladly, spontaneously help you to get where you want to go in life.”
The ceremony was supposed to end at noon, but it ran nearly an hour over. Before the event was in overtime, graduates were leaving after they walked the stage. By the time the last rows of students had their chance to walk, most graduates who had walked in before them had left—leaving endless rows of empty seats around the stage. The audience depleted before everyone had walked as well. Few students stayed till the end to turn their tassels in the degree conferment.