Island University Fall 2022 Commencement Celebrates Hard Work and Dedication of 1,000 Students

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – As the sound of pomp and circumstance filled the American Bank Center arena, 1,000 Islander students, soon to be alumni, prepared to cross the stage during the Fall 2022 Commencement ceremony, held Saturday, Dec. 10. Adorned with decorated caps and the ever-traditional Islander lei, students waved to family and friends as they celebrated the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next phase of their lives.  

Islander Leo Veloz ’22, a first-generation college student who earned a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering, says his journey at the Island University was made possible thanks to the support of more than 35 scholarships.

“I applied to as many scholarships as possible while working part time to put myself through school,” Veloz said. “Today I’m proud to say I’ll be graduating debt free. When times were hard, I always used to believe that everything would be okay in the end, and if things hadn’t settled yet – then that wasn’t the end for me.”

Elizabeth Guerra ’22 earned a Master of Science in Instructional Design and Educational Technology and recently earned admittance into TAMU-CC’s Doctoral Program for Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Instructional Design.

“While I encountered setbacks juggling a full-time job, school, and raising my son as a single mom, I was able to find success through the support of friends and colleagues in my Islander community,” Guerra said. “As I begin the doctoral program this coming spring, I have set a new goal of giving back to the university that has given me so much opportunity and a future to be excited about.”

Three-time alumnus Thomas Lavigne ’15, ’17,’22 considers the Island University a second home. Lavigne first attended TAMU-CC as an 18-year-old undergrad in 2011. He earned a B.S. in Environmental Science in 2015, an M.S. in Environmental Science in 2017, and now a Ph.D. in Coastal and Marine System Science. Lavigne says the phrase “Islander Forever” resonates with him and his journey through higher education.

“I have truly grown up on this campus. When I first stepped foot on this Island, I was this kid who had no idea what I wanted to do in this life,” Lavigne said. “Now I’m married and have a son, and both of these amazing things happened during my time as an Islander. I’ve also made life-long friends in peers and colleagues. I think it’s safe to say I’m an Islander for life.”

Dr. Rebecca A. Palacios ’76 was selected as the commencement speaker. Palacios graduated with a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Early Childhood when the university was called Corpus Christi State University. She is an internationally renowned expert in early childhood education and senior curriculum advisor for

Palacios utilized puzzle pieces throughout her speech as a symbol for different skills graduates gained throughout their education that led to success in academia and would continue to do so in the future.

“What will your future puzzle skills look like? Which new skills will you add? I’m sure you’ve already added some skills like communication, self-management, empathy, participation, self-confidence, innovative thinking, humility, and more,” Palacios said. “As puzzle masters, you will solve the problems of the world.”

The commencement ceremony was presided over by Dr. Kelly M. Miller, TAMU-CC President and CEO, and Dr. Clarenda Phillips, TAMU-CC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

To view a live recording of the Fall 2022 Commencement ceremony, visit