UTRGV to hold virtual 2020 fall commencement

By TRAVIS M. WHITEHEAD
Staff Writer

The past two years have presented Karla Adame with challenges that seemed at times impossible to overcome.

However, today’s commencement ceremony is a monument to her talent and perseverance.

“ Now that I’m finally through it’s a great achievement for me and my family,” said Karla, 27, who is receiving her master of physician assistant studies from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

UTRGV is celebrating its Class of 2020 with a fall virtual commencement today at 4 p.m., when it will be broadcast at utrgv.edu/commencement. The ceremony can be viewed by clicking on Fall 2020 Virtual Commencement.

UTRGV President Dr. Guy Bailey, Deputy President and Interim Provost Dr. Janna Arney and other dignitaries pre-recorded their messages to students. Those messages will be played during the virtual commencement.

“ Your hard work and resilience have paid off,” said Keynote Speaker Patrick Ojeaga II.

“ Today is your day to be celebrated, so make it count and don’t let your family and friends forget it,” said Ojeaga, student regent.

Family is what kept Karla going through her long journey to become a physician’s assistant. In fact, that’s the main reason she chose to study at UTRGV.

“ It was closer to home,” said the 2012 graduate of First Baptist School.

“ I’m very close to my family so I would be able to have that support with me,” she said. “Also the program is a very good program.”

She knows this because in her endeavor to become a PA she’s worked alongside many physician’s assistants who earned their credentials from UTRGV. She described them as “very qualified, very prepared.”

She reflected on the camaraderie with classmates.

“ You’re all going through the same thing,” she said. “They get to be family at the end of the year.”

Dr. Nolan Perez, UT System Regent, extolled the graduates for their hard work and their choice to attend UTRGV.

“ While I am proud to represent all 14 University of Texas institutions, UTRGV has a special place in my heart,” Perez said. “My home and practice are in the Rio Grande Valley, so I have a personal interest in, and commitment to, the health and vitality of this region. I know you share that interest and commitment, and that makes this moment all the more special and emotional for me.”

Perez then introduced Ojeaga, a fourth-year student in the UTRGV School of Medicine.

“ Patrick was appointed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to serve as a student regent through May 2021 — the first student regent to be appointed from UTRGV!” Perez said.

Ojeaga, a McAllen native, spoke a language of experience to which all the students could relate.

“ As I’m sure many of you can relate, I told myself that I would earn the highest grades possible, while being involved in the most meaningful extracurricular activities and research, and balancing relationships both in and out of school,” Ojeaga said.

The balance of relationships presented a special challenge for Karla.

“ The most challenging part is obviously not being able to see your family as often as you would like,” she said. “You always feel like you have to be studying and you feel if you’re not studying you’re running behind, so you have to kind of prioritize.”

She has several job offers, all of them in the Valley where she plans to remain for the foreseeable future. She looks forward to fulfilling her dream of working in emergency medicine.

twhitehead@valleystar.com