Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Graduates Share Triumph with Family, Friends at Fall 2023 Commencement

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Graduation stands as an undeniable milestone in the journey of a college student. Whether it’s a transition into a new phase of life, the beginning of a new career pursuit, or the reflection of personal growth and development, the Fall 2023 Commencement Ceremony at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi was a profound and emotional celebration symbolizing dedication, hard work, and resiliency.

A cohort of over 960 graduates received their degrees on Dec. 16, including Kristin Simmons ’23, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.

“Five years ago, I found myself as a single mother of four children, and I knew that I needed to find a new career path,” Simmons said. “I came to the Island University worried that I was too old to be in college, and that I wasn’t really going to make it. But my time here has shown me that I can achieve anything if I put in the work and effort. I have graduated with a 3.9 GPA, and have made the Dean’s List every semester, all while raising my children and working full time.”

Simmons has since watched her adult son start his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice as a fellow Islander. She credits TAMU-CC with empowering her on her new professional journey as a teacher in Gregory Portland ISD, which in turn, has set a courageous example for her children.

“I am so proud that my children have seen me reach this milestone,” Simmons said. “They have now seen firsthand that when life knocks you down, you can still get back up.”

Many of the graduating students began their time on the Island during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently experienced a unique start to their college journeys.

“Once campus reopened, my classmates and I found ways to become a family, either through clubs or study sessions,” said Dean Gonzales ’23, a veteran who earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting with a minor in management information systems. “For me, it was a sense of community that I had previously experienced being in the military; we formed bonds that I can only compare with being deployed as a team.”

For Gonzales, commencement brought on bittersweet emotions.

“I can say that I have completely fallen for my school,” Gonzales said. “I spent so much time on campus that it felt like home. My appreciation for the Island University is so great that it’s hard to put into words; I have nothing but love for everyone associated with TAMU-CC.”

Bright Nnadi ’23, a recipient of a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, credits TAMU-CC with preparing him for the next exciting step in his career.

“The diverse experiences within my academic program and on-campus volunteer opportunities have laid a strong foundation for my success,” Nnadi said. “My time on the Island has been transformative.”

Through the practical aspects of his studies, such as an on-campus research and development internship at the Lonestar UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation, Nnadi feels better equipped to navigate any future hurdles that stand in the way of his goals.

“I aspire to pursue advanced studies in nanotechnology and microelectronics through graduate school at TAMU-CC, with the aim of contributing to the development of more efficient semiconductor devices within the industry,” Nnadi said.

Emily Levy, who now holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts, said her time on campus had a profound effect, both personally and academically.

“I have learned things on the Island that I will take with me through the rest of my life,” Levy said. “The most important being to strive to learn something new every day, because you can never stop learning.”

Levy already has plans to use her Islander Impact to pay it forward.

“While I was at TAMU-CC, I was fortunate to be a recipient of several endowed scholarships. This support meant so much to me, and I plan to be a donor in the future to help students like me and to keep the Islander spirit with me always.”

The fall commencement speaker was Larry Wyche ’83, one of the Island University’s most decorated alumni. Wyche served our country for more than 42 years in the United States Army and retired as a lieutenant general. He is now the President and CEO of Wyche Leadership and Federal Contract Consulting. In his speech, Wyche reflected on his time in the Army, and his own professional and academic journey. He also offered the graduates some advice that had helped him during times of uncertainty and stress.

“There are three questions that you have to stand in the mirror and ask yourself as you go through life,” Wyche said. “These are: one, ‘who am I, really?’… two, ‘What sacrifices am I willing to make to achieve my goals?’… and three, ‘What small thing have I done today to make someone else’s life better?’ Your answers to these questions will define your own journeys.”

TAMU-CC President and CEO Dr. Kelly M. Miller, who presided over the ceremony, closed the event with additional words of encouragement.

“Each of you has proven that you are a leader and that you are the future of this university, this state, this nation, and the world,” Miller said. “No matter where life may take you, no matter what level of success you achieve — never forget — you are an Islander forever!”

To view a recording of the Fall 2023 Commencement ceremony, visit commencement.tamucc.edu.