As audience members prepared themselves for the emotional ride of graduation, Dean of Students Dennis Hall made light of a special room.
“In case anyone needs it, we do have a crying room towards the left of me,” Hall said Saturday morning before the start of Texas Wesleyan’s Fall Commencement Ceremony.
The audience chuckled, but continued to whisper to one another as their excitement for the graduates continued to build.
Wesleyan graduated more than 300 students at the MacGormen Chapel of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; the event featured alumni Dr. Juan Quintana as the keynote speaker. Quintana graduated from Wesleyan’s GPNA program in 1996 with a master’s degree in health science with an emphasis on anesthesia.
Wesleyan President Frederick Slabach introduced Quintana with a joke.
“Normally, being able to put a person to sleep isn’t a great trait for a commencement speaker,” Slabach said. “But with every professional a person must have the ability to get people excited and I think he can.”
Quintana talked about the challenges he faced as a college graduate and the challenges the graduates will soon be facing.
“I know it’s an understatement to say your journey was a challenge,” Quintana said. “Each of you have overcome multiple mental, physiological, sometimes physical challenges and here you are. You are stronger, wiser, and smarter.”
Quintana talked about the changes that would shape each graduate in the adult world.
“I’ve realize change isn’t just in healthcare,” Quintana said. “It’s universal. It’s all around us. I know for certain whether you perceive it as a good or bad thing, you are an interchangeable part into making it into what you think it should be.”
He completed his speech by motivating the audience.
“As we move forward, I’ve entitled you all to be leaders,” Quintana said. “Each of you must harness that strength and change and fight. Fight hard and strong. Lead the change. Continue to learn. Be kind to each other. You comprise the future. Others will seek your insight and revisions and will follow you.”
Connie Whitt-Lambert, professor of theater arts and speech, was awarded the UMC Exemplary Teaching Award and spoke to the graduates about her passion to constantly learn.
“I will be the last Wesleyan professor to speak with you, so I’ve decided to give you each some homework,” Lambert said. “Here’s your assignment: keep learning and challenge yourself. Treat yourself to knowledge every single day, because there is no end to education.”