Northern New Mexico College’s Commencement Ceremony

by Staff Reporter / May 15, 2017 / comments
Long-time mental health advocate and former NNMC faculty member Gilberto Romero receiving an honorary Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities. Photos courtesy of John Denne

Northern New Mexico College’s Commencement Ceremony

Staff Reporter

Northern New Mexico College held its 2017 Spring graduation ceremony this past Saturday morning, May 13 at the Eagle Gymnasium on NNMC’s campus.

115 Northern students received their diplomas and degrees in a variety of fields, ranging from Bachelors in engineering and education to Associate Degrees in nursing and other certifications. Click HERE to read the names of all NNMC graduates.

Ross Griego, graduating Magna Cum Laude and other honors, moving the tassel to the right side. Photo courtesy of John Denne

Following the ceremony, family and friends crowded around the new graduates to snap photos and celebrate. A separate graduation ceremony was held Friday, May 12, for 38 students who completed their High School Equivalency Credential HSE/GED, where they were awarded their diplomas.


Families and friends celebrate with the new grads. Photo courtesy of John Denne

Congressman Ben Ray Luján was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. Luján, who has served in the United States Congress since his election in 2008 and has advanced in leadership to now serve as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair for the entire nation. Luján, who was raised in Nambé, and graduated from Pojoaque Valley High School, spoke about his firm belief in access to quality education for all, regardless of their zip code and the work of many to create education and career options for the people of northern New Mexico.


Congressman Ben Ray Luján (center) receives a commemorative pottery piece after he speaks to the graduating students. Congressman Lujan was the keynote speaker at Saturday's graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy of John Denne

NNMC’s President Richard Bailey also awarded long-time mental health advocate and former NNMC faculty member Gilberto Romero with an honorary Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities on Saturday, in recognition of his services to the communities of northern New Mexico.

Mr. Romero, who was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM, and President Bailey said, is renowned for his nearly five decades of tireless work and activism for underprivileged and underrepresented populations struggling with mental illness in northern New Mexico (see cover photo).

In addition to his work as a substance abuse counselor, Mr. Romero has worked with families affected by domestic violence and demonstrates an unparalleled knowledge of working in resource-deprived rural settings.

He has received the National Association of Social Workers’ Public Citizen of the Year award, the Latino Behavioral Health Institute’s Honor Roll award, which is given to community members who exemplify the ideals of César E. Chávez and Dolores Huerta by making meaningful contributions to the public good through leadership, service, and education, and the N.M. Governor’s recognition for Achievement in Aging award, among many others.

Mr. Romero describes himself as “a practitioner of human kindness.” He exemplifies a nonviolent philosophy in the struggle against injustice and the fight for peace and dignity in his community.

Northern New Mexico College is a minority-serving institution, offering bachelor's, associate, and certificate programs.

The college primarily serves rural communities within a 40-mile radius of its campus in Española, New Mexico, within one of the most underserved regions in the state.

Click HERE to read the names of all NNMC graduates and see below for more images from the special day. All photo courtesy of John Denne.


Two new nurses ready for what's next. Photo by John Denne


Graduating with honors. Photo courtesy of John Denne


Photo courtesy of John Denne


Photo courtesy of John Denne


The ceremony opened with a dance performed by Ohkay Owingeh danceers. Photo courteys of John Denne


Photo courtesy of John Denne


Photo courtesy of John Denne


Photo courtesy of John Denne