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70 percent of Highlands grads are women, president says

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By Don Pace

Seventy percent of Highlands University’s graduates on Saturday were women.

The capacity crowd at the 2010 commencement ceremony at Wilson Complex cheered the news the day before Mother’s Day.

“What a tremendous and impressive statement,” Highlands President Jim Fries said to applause.

Fries also noted that students on the main campus include 19 tribes, 43 states and 32 countries. He said 40 percent of students are studying at the master’s degree level.

“If I give you a little test and ask you, ‘Which of these four institutions will have graduated the largest number of Hispanic students with a master’s degree? The University of Arizona, Texas A&M, University of Nevada, Las Vegas or New Mexico Highlands University?’” Fries asked.

“You are right, New Mexico Highlands. It’s that way every year. We consistently rank in the top 100 institutions in this country in terms of the number of Hispanic students earning graduate degrees.”

“One of our great strengths at Highlands is the incredibly rich multi-culture of our campus, and the many opportunities that represents for all of us to learn from one another, literally on a daily basis,” Fries said.

Keynote speaker Edward Lujan gave a timely commencement address. He runs New Mexico’s second largest independent insurance agency.

“How in the world do we succeed in today’s environment. The business world is going through one of the roughest periods in the history of this country. Unemployment is way too high, profits are low or non-existent, and many businesses are broke or closing down,” Lujan lamented.

But Lujan insisted the private enterprise system is what made the country great and must be preserved. He talked about rules the graduates could use to motivate themselves.

“Do not procrastinate, never leave for tomorrow what you should have done today, or you will be doing yesterday’s work when a real opportunity arrives,” Lujan advised.

On the other hand, Lujan urged student to let their imagination “run wild, but harness it to your advantage.”

Graduate Andrew Marquez received his bachelor of arts in criminal justice.

“Highlands was good to me. It’s a family community, and everyone showed a lot of love. Unlike other universities, the teachers care about you. They care about what you wanted to do with your life, and how the learning could get you there. The degree is the final reward,” Marquez said.