Home News Local News Adult Education grads begin new dreams with diplomas in hand

Adult Education grads begin new dreams with diplomas in hand

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Lisa Dunlap Photo "The secret of success in life is you take a bad experience and change it to a good experience for life," says Dr. Talat Soofi, the ENMU-R Adult Education Program keynote speaker, who completed her medical school education during a 20-year period and numerous life challenges. Dr. Ken Maguire, vice president for academic affairs, is seated to the right.

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Many people participating in Thursday night graduation ceremonies on the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell campus have experienced unusual and difficult journeys to their goals, just like the keynote and student speakers.

About 32 of the 70 students who have earned their high-school equivalency degrees through ENMU-R’s Adult Education Department from July 2017 through May crossed the platform to accept the congratulations of faculty and staff, the applause of family and friends, and the ceremonial diplomas.

The graduates heard from fellow student JoAnn Betancur and Dr. Talat Soofi, co-founder of Kymera Independent Physicians clinic of Roswell, about the importance of striving to better oneself in spite of hardships.

Betancur, now enrolled in college in an occupational therapy program, often wiped away tears as she retold her story. She had dropped out of high school at 17 after the death of her father and two brothers. She said that she worked a series of seemingly dead-end jobs before deciding years later, now a single mother of three daughters, that she needed to return to school. 

“I know that there are a lot of people out there who need help and are in my situation, sometimes worse. And all I can say is don’t give up. We can’t give up,” she said. “We have to get out of our comfort zone. What are we going to gain if we just stay there and stay stuck? …. Me, having kids, I have to show them. I have to give them a better life.” 

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Soofi grew up in Tehran, Iran, graduating high school in 1981 just as that country erupted in war and the universities closed. She emigrated to Vienna, Austria, with the hope of being able to continue on to the United States. When that was not possible, she instead spent a year learning Latin, German and taking other courses so that she could enter a technical university to study chemical engineering. After six attempts and three years, she was able to pursue her dream of entering medical school.

 

By December 1993, she had earned a medical degree in Vienna, but it took her another 10 years before she could finish her residency and begin practicing medicine. By that time, she was 40 years old, a U.S. citizen and was living in New Mexico with her husband, whom she had met in Vienna, and their daughter. In 2008, Soofi and her husband started Kymera.

“I didn’t care that it took me that long,” she said. “And I didn’t care that I had to stop and start and stop and start. What was important to me is that I had gotten to the endpoint where I had wanted to be for all those years.”

She said that her experiences taught the value of persistence, hard work, sacrificing for goals and education.

“Never give up on your dreams,” Soofi said. “Concentrate and focus on your goals whatever that goal might be because eventually you will reach it, no matter how long you will take. Your journey is part of the experience of your life. There are always hurdles to overcome in life and there are always stones that are going to be thrown at you. … There is always a silver lining somewhere and you just have to find that silver lining in things that happen to you in life.”

This year’s ceremony was the 28th graduation exercise for the Adult Education program. Since 1986, the ENMU-R program has awarded more than 4,000 high-school equivalency diplomas, which are free educational programs for students, funded by state and federal agencies.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com. 

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.