More than 250 ENMU students graduate in Saturday ceremony

Jill Evans is congratulated after receiving her degree at Saturday’s Eastern New Mexico University fall graduation ceremony. (Freedom Newspapers: Kevin Wilson)

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Graduation gowns, tassels, honor cords, sashes, camera flashes, but most of all smiles filled up Greyhound Arena during Saturday’s fall graduation ceremonies.

Former Clovis High basketball and football standout Irshaun Pinckney was among the more than 250 students who received their bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Pinckney, who played basketball at ENMU from 2002 to 2005, has an internship with a Disney resort in Orlando. Pinckney said he will begin working in January.

“It’s a big relief,” Pinckney said about having a job lined up. “That’s the common question.

“Everyone’s happy for me.”

Portales High graduate Naomi Aranda said her mother, Esmenia Aranda, encouraged her and was supportive of her so she could get to the stage on Saturday.

“I’m the first to graduate from my family,” said Aranda, who received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. “My family is proud of me.”

Kellin Moreland of Tucumcari said balancing a family and school was difficult.

“I had to overcome obstacles,” Moreland said. “I was a single parent, a teenage parent when I started college.”

Moreland said finding the time to go to school and be a parent was the most difficult part. She said she hopes to be a role model for other parents.

“I was trying to be a good parent while I was going to school,” Moreland said. “I want to show single parents that they can overcome the obstacles and be a good parent at the same time.”

Jay Valerio, Moreland’s father, traveled from Phoenix to see his daughter graduate.

“I have a lot of pride in her accomplishment,” Valerio said. “It was a real tear-jerker for me to see her receive her diploma.”

ENMU president Steven Gamble spent some time congratulating the fall class of 2005 before they left the arena.

“This is a special day for our graduates,” Gamble said. “This is a special day for you. I’m glad we could share this day with you.”