Stay curious, my friends. That’s one message Dr. Hector Ruiz, founder and chairman of ANSI Inc., had for more than 1,000 graduates Saturday at the 18th Winter Commencement at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College.
“My Dad told me, ‘You’ve got to be curious,’” Ruiz said on a sunny, bright morning. “But then my mother said, ‘But honey, curiosity killed the cat.’ And my father smiled and would say, ‘Yes, but the cat has nine lives.’”
The nanotechnology founder told graduates that curiosity is critical to making a positive and meaningful impact on society.
After curiosity, Ruiz had a few other points for the graduates to ponder. He also told them to believe in themselves.
“To succeed in anything, you must believe that you can,” Ruiz said.He suggested that graduates never discount advice.
Ruiz told the graduates to broaden their horizons and to keep family close.
“You must reflect on the importance of family and friends because they have the biggest impact on you,” he said.
But most of all, Ruiz told the graduates to find a way to give back to society.
“Everyone needs to be a part of the solution,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz was born in Piedras Negras, Mexico, but immigrated to the United States. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1968 and a master’s degree in 1969, both in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.
For Emily Younger, 28, Saturday was a big day.
Younger, who works at the Brownsville Literacy Center, has spent the past six years working toward her Bachelor of Arts degree in government.
“Well, I had to work full time,” she said, adding that it felt great to graduate because she set a goal and met it. “It’s a great accomplishment and a milestone for me.”
Younger said she faced a lot of challenges that made school difficult for her, including the death of her mother in 2009.
“I’m not sure what’s next,” she said with a smile.
David Arce also was felt great on Saturday, as he graduated with an accounting degree.
“I plan to work in San Antonio,” he said. “But tonight, I’m going to celebrate!”
Nadia Rivera, a 35-year-old single mother of five with a 1-year-old and one grandchild, received her certificate in medical billing coding.
“Do whatever it takes to finish school,” she said. “I am 35 years old and barely did this, and you people who are young should take advantage now. Later is not too late, but the sooner the better.”
UTB President Dr. Juliet V. García asked Dr. Lily Tercero, president of Texas Southmost College, to join her at the podium overlooking the Cardenas South Hall Lawn during the ceremony.
“We are pleased to work alongside our colleagues at Texas Southmost College to transform the Rio Grande Valley into a dynamic and vibrant community,” García said. “The scorpion has been an important symbol of our work for many years, and soon, it will become your symbol. And so today, we present you with a framed photograph of our familiar scorpion as a sign of our best wishes to you and to Texas Southmost College as you begin your journey toward becoming an autonomous community college once again, and we pledge to help you in any way we can to strengthen, expand and improve the higher education ecosystem of Rio Grande Valley.”
Of the graduates, 295 are summer 2012 graduates while 839 are fall 2012 graduation candidates.