May 19, 2016 | SharkAdmin | Leave a comment Graduation is always an emotional time. Just seeing the faces of proud parents, family, friends, faculty and staff always helps to remind us all why we do what we do for our students. Thank you to Lynne Dean, the NVC Graduation and Institutional Advancement teams for coordinating the 18th annual commencement ceremony. A big thank you also to the many volunteers who helped to make the ceremony successful. The class of 2016 will always hold a very special place in my heart because throughout the year, NVC celebrated many achievements. For instance, NVC was identified, by BestColleges.com, as the No. 2 community college in Texas – factors such as a six percent enrollment growth, best in state transfer rates and a 38 percent increase in the number of graduates in the 2015-16 academic year led to this recognition. NVC has come a long way from its humble beginnings 21 years ago. It’s our students and graduates who inspire us to continue our mission of providing opportunities for success. Here are just four student stories from this past year that reminds us of the lives we touch by the caring and competent faculty and staff at NVC. Esmeralda Rodriguez-Ramirez Many of our students are retired or active-duty military. To support the special needs of these students, NVC has developed a volunteer Vet2Vet program with faculty and staff military veterans serving as informal mentors or resources for our students. They create connections that transcend differences in age, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. One such student is Esmeralda Rodriguez-Ramirez. While at NVC, she struggled with math but found a special math teacher and mentor in Dennis Gittinger, a fellow vet. Prior to her first math exam upon returning to school, she went to Professor Gittinger, nervous about the exam. They just talked. Despite the worries, she did well on the exam, passed the class with an A, and is now attending UTSA. She says: “If it was not for Professor Gittinger and his support and motivation, and not giving up on me, I wouldn’t have succeeded.” Kenneth Salazar Another vet, Kenneth Salazar, not only faced challenges from his service disabilities, but he was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer midway through his freshman year. The 28 radiation treatments, two rounds of chemotherapy, and three surgeries did not stop him from moving toward his goal of completing his degree. He was motivated to return to college to be a role model to his grown children and show them you can be successful in school no matter your age. Despite the challenges, Kenneth graduates with a 3.8 GPA and has focused on using his education in business administration. Rosa Aleman The last time Rosa Aleman walked the stage was to receive her high school diploma, 45 years ago. Following graduation, she went to work to support her family until retiring in order to care for her mother. Unfortunately, a year later her mother passed away. Instead of returning to work, she decided to return to school and complete an education. Adjusting to the new technology and attending classes with students fresh out of high school was challenging. Thanks to the NVC staff, professors and students she overcame these challenges. Her motivation to go to college was to set an example for her kids and grandchildren. It was important to show them, that no matter what age you are, with dedication and hard work, education is possible. What makes this night extra special for Rosa, she is sharing this moment with her son, Jacob Aleman, who is also graduating tonight. Alan Del Valle Alan came to NVC on the recommendation of a friend who shared that the NVC basketball team had a winning record thanks to Curtis McGlown, twice the league coach of the year. In high school, Alan moved to New Jersey to live with a cousin in order to get more playing time on the basketball court. After graduating from high school, he returned home with no basketball offers. Though he remembered what he had heard about NVC. While at NVC, Alan helped the Wildcats to two consecutive league championships and averaged 14 points per game. In addition to working hard to improve his game, Alan endeavored to improve his academics. His commitment has paid off. He recently was awarded a full basketball scholarship to Miles College in Alabama, an NCAA Division II school. Miles College is a part of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which has a history of producing athletes for a variety of professional leagues.