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Unparalleled excitement envelopes Commencement ceremonies at The University of Texas at Arlington as the spring Class of 2012 becomes the first to walk across the stage at UT Arlington’s striking new College Park Center.
Not only will they be the first to participate in ceremonies at the 7,000-seat special events showpiece, but this spring’s graduates are part of the largest graduating class—more than 4,400 strong—in the University’s history.
The majority of the 3,000 undergraduates, 1,309 master’s candidates, and 97 doctoral scholars will receive their diplomas Saturday-Sunday, May 12-13, at College Park Center, which opened in February at Pecan and Second streets, south of UTA Boulevard. The College of Architecture Commencement remains at Texas Hall on Friday, May 11.
Graduates and their families and friends came together Friday night, May 11, for Graduation Celebration, a traditional evening of recognition in College Park Center. Community members, faculty, and fellow students joined in the free festivities, which include music by the UT Arlington Jazz Orchestra and food.
Award-winning actor and education advocate James Franco delivered the keynote address at Graduation Celebration.
“Education gives you the opportunity of choice. You learn how to design your own path,” Franco told the graduates. “Whatever choices you make, make them with confidence. You are here today to open a new chapter of your lives. Don’t be afraid to change your life’s course. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself.”
The actor signed autographs for hundreds of fans to make up for a fireworks show that was canceled because of rain.
“Half of this spring’s graduates are the first in their family to earn a college degree,” UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo told the audience. “Imagine the doors they’ve opened with their remarkable resiliency and relentless determination. And imagine the lessons they’ve learned about themselves and what they can achieve. Now, imagine where they’re going.”
Melissa Sepulveda Tran, a nursing master’s degree candidate, advised fellow graduates to be proud of their accomplishments and the paths that brought them to this moment.
Members of the Class of 2012 are as diverse as their dreams.
Biology major Lindsey Dornberger will pursue graduate studies in marine science, using mathematical biology to incorporate effects of the BP oil spill into an ecosystem model of the Gulf of Mexico.
Christal Ann Simanski, who earns degrees in political science and philosophy at age 20, will continue her studies at the University of California-San Diego’s International Relations and Pacific Studies graduate program.
Jackie Fouse ('82 B.A., '84 M.A.) receives her Ph.D. in finance while simultaneously leading major corporations as a chief financial officer.
All will make history at UT Arlington’s spring commencement as they establish a tradition that future Mavericks will follow for years to come.