New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, urged graduates to lead a life of service to others Saturday during their commencement addresses to high school and junior college graduates of New Mexico Military Institute’s class of 2019.
In all, 177 cadets from throughout the U.S. and places as varied as the Czech Republic, China, South Korea and Vietnam were among the high school and junior college graduates who packed Pearson Auditorium Saturday morning.
Torres Small, a first-term congresswoman who represents New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District — which includes Roswell — spoke to the high school graduates.
In her address to the graduating high school class, Torres Small said the commencement ceremony does not mark the end of their hard work, but the beginning of a new phase in their lives.
As graduates from NMMI, an institution that prides itself on character and duty, Torres Small said those who were receiving their diplomas are uniquely equipped to lead others into the future.
“And because of the discipline, dedication to teamwork and esprit de corps here, you can lead in the best possible way. And your lasting achievement will be to have left the world just a little better than when you found it,” Torres Small said.
Nobody lives forever, everyone is part of something that will live forever.
“And it is the mission of our lives to not just make peace with that fact, but to embrace it — to love it,” she said to NMMI’s high school graduates.
Torres Small also encouraged graduates to meet the world with both kindness and courage. She mentioned that 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the first class where female cadets graduated from NMMI.
In 1977, 28 female cadets were admitted into NMMI, making 1979 the first graduating class where women received degrees.
“They faced down taunts and challenges that they weren’t strong or brave enough to be here. Proving with their resolve that they were clearly both,” Torres Small said.
Now, decades later, one-third of the graduating class at NMMI is female. Celebrating that milestone is an example of honoring tradition while also celebrating progress, Torres Small said.
In her address to the junior college graduating class, Gov. Lujan Grisham praised NMMI as a proud institution and said its foundational values are not only something graduates will represent to their school, but also their community, state and world.
She called the graduates a textbook definition of service, but warned that the world graduates are entering is one that is increasingly indifferent to qualities such as gratitude, empathy and generosity.
“There is not a lot of room for those things in a tweet,” Lujan Grisham said.
The consequences of such a world are evidenced in the media, news and everyday personal interactions between people.
Lujan Grisham said the lack of empathy in society is corrosive and contagious and called on the graduating class to adhere to a life of humility and service to others.
“It is our duty as a human being that shares this space together to be mindful as we go through our day-to-day lives of what we can do for others,” Lujan Grisham said.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.