A huge set of Congratulations are in order to the nearly 1,900 students who received their respective degrees from Texas A&M-Commerce Friday and Saturday. I was present at the Friday Afternoon commencement for The Graduate School as one of my good friends graduated with a Master’s in Accounting. It was a great ceremony and I got to listen to James Thrower, a Commerce grad and former NFL player who now runs a restaurant chain, give the commencement address and talk about his experience and how to emit Lion Pride everywhere you go. I feel that is probably the best speech I had heard in a while. Mr. Thrower also talked about the good that Old ET was for him and to him. He shared a story about how when he was playing Basketball, he was one of only two Black players on the team as the school and athletic department had just integrated. While traveling down to Huntsville for a game with Sam Houston State, the team stopped at a cafe to eat. Many people got up and left and the coaches were told that Thrower and the other Black player were not allowed to eat there. The coaches then went and told the players, and the White players stood up and said that if that their Black teammates could not eat there, they would not be eating there. From that point on, Thrower talked about the coaching staff from both Football and Basketball not allowing the Black players to be treated as second class regardless of where they went to. That story and sentiment really made me proud of my Alma Mater.
Also, congratulations are in order to Lion Legacy graduate Ashlee Baker, the daughter of ET Alum Allen Roulette (Football 1985-1988). Ashlee did her undergrad work at Texas State University graduating Magna Cum Laude and graduated on Saturday with a 4.0 GPA in Educational Administration. She lives in Mesquite with her Husband Tripp and 21 Month old Son Ames, and teaches and coaches at Sunnyvale Middle School, where she was nominated as teacher of the year last school year. Congrats Ashlee and welcome to the Lion Family!
One thing I have to say is this. The Graduate School conferred almost 800 degrees. What makes the ceremony so unbelievably long is the fact that most of the grad students are from the College of Education and Human Services, while MBA students make up about 300 degrees or so. The inability to have graduate ceremonies in a split session in addition the fact the Fieldhouse just needs to be replaced really made think about what the progress would be in the new events center. Ground was supposed to have broken on it now, but with the change in leadership on the Administrative level, that may have changed, but the time is now for a new facility for graduation and Basketball and Volleyball.