Smiling faces littered the crowd of families gathered for the 2014 Texas Wesleyan University commencement ceremony on Saturday.

One hundred and fifteen undergraduates received their diplomas at the ceremony, which was held at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary church.

Also, Katrina K. Schultz received her doctorate in education, and four students received their doctorates in nurse anesthesia practice. Wesleyan also graduated 136 master’s students.

Ray Martinez, president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, gave the commencement address and spoke to the graduates.

“It is because of your hard work, diligence and perseverance that lead to achieving this milestone in your life,” said Martinez. “You have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to. “

Martinez also thanked the faculty for their guidance, dedication, and being the force that helped the students to persevere.

Texas Wesleyan President Fredrick G. Slabach led the introductions and offered some advice to the graduating classes.

“My advice is to be true to yourself and to make a difference,” he said.

Slabach described the degrees as blunt instrument that can help produce positive changes in the world. He also warned the graduates of the difficult life challenges ahead of them.

One student who is no stranger to tough life challenges is John A. Ortega, cum laude and English major.

“I started college in 1999 and I finished today,” said Ortega. “Graduating is bitter sweet, because it is fun being in college, I would know I have been doing it for fifteen years,” Ortega said.

Ortega plans to use his degree and time to do freelance writing and take care of his children.

Josette E. Vargas, mass communications major and 2014 Wesleyan graduate begin her journey to graduation seven years ago. She attended Wesleyan for the last three years.

“Dr. Colley, my advisor, was like, ‘You deserve this,’” said Vargas.

Vargas said that the one thing she would do differently while she attended Wesleyan was to attend more classes one time and more frequently during my first two years of school.

Crystal Williams earned her master’s degree in education administration on Saturday, only two years after earning her bachelor’s degree.

“I will hopefully become a high school principal,” said Wiliams. “I will be open to any school district that will take me.”

Williams said that if she had master’s classes to do differently she would become more involved with Wesleyan.