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Southwest Spotlight talks with Patrice Caldwell about the virtual commencement of the Fall 2020 Seme

CRISS:  This is Southwest Spotlight on the KENW, Public Radio Network. Our guest today is Doctor Patrice Caldwell. Chancellor of Eastern Mexico Universities system here on the Eastern Plains and President of Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. Thank you for talking with us today, Patrice.

CALDWELL: Happy to do so, Don.

CRISS:  OK, can you tell us about the upcoming virtual commencement, a few things?

CALDWELL: Absolutely. As you know, our Roswell campus does its own virtual commencement, and Portales will be hosting its virtual commencement on December 12th at 10:00 AM, which would be in pre-pandemic times exactly when our students would normally be walking across the stage at Greyhound Arena. So, we'd like to keep that little piece of our history and hope that our students will enjoy a virtual experience since we really cannot get together in this pandemic.

CRISS:  OK, how are students going to be involved in this? Can you tell me some of the students will be speaking a little bit about them?

CALDWELL: Absolutely. Our student presenters, in lieu of a guest of honor speaking at our commencement, will be four honors graduates, one selected from each college by the college faculty, and they will give brief comments about their time at Eastern and messages to their fellow graduates. Zia Tenorio from CLS, she's actually from Las Cruces; Brandon Warren I think you may know Brandon Don, CFA college, he's from Bernalillo. And Bianca Hertha from Lovington, and she our RCT honors graduate, and Amy Lucero who lives in Albuquerque, she is the COB honors graduate. They will be not all in the studio, but two of them were, and two films their comments remotely. And we also will present a diploma to Caitlin Gazer, who is summa colada and forensic science will be representing all of the undergraduate students receiving Bachelor's Degrees. And we will be holding one of our Masters' candidates, Melissa Chacon, with a Master's Degree in Communication, who also happens to be an ENMU employee.

CRISS:  Very good to have them.

CALDWELL: Yes, very good.

CRISS:  Very good that that's kind of exciting. I like to hear from the students and like to hear what they had to say. We might want to point out that you will also be inaugurated as President that day.

CALDWELL: Well, I will there be a ceremony following our virtual commencement, a virtual inauguration. So that's another. I guess that's another first for Eastern, and I am looking forward to that. Though, I've been kept in the dark about that, Don. They're not telling me very much about it; so, I'm very much looking forward to seeing how that turns out.

CRISS:  I hope it's a wonderful surprise for you. Let me ask one more question what has been the biggest challenge that you faced during this COVID-19 pandemic situation?

CALDWELL: There have been many. As you know, and I think the biggest challenge is there are so many milestones for students during their academic collegiate careers that faculty and administration really enjoys sharing with them. Their first day on campus. Their first day as a freshman. Their first midterm experience. Their declaration of major, and of course their commencement; and missing those milestones not being able to share those with students have really been challenges because it's tough on the students, it's tough on our faculty it's, it's very hard on all of us not to have those experiences with students. And then you add in all the additional health concerns. Concerns about your progress towards your degree or the events that you're missing. The athletic competitions, the musical concerts, the theater productions. All of these things that are such an essential part of what we call a college education. So that's been a real challenge to see past that. And see in those virtual experiences opportunities to connect with that student body from afar.

CRISS:  Well, thank you very much thanks for being here and talking with me. I want to point out that they just need to look up the 2020 virtual commencement online, any one of the search engines. I'm a sucker for Google. But other you certainly can use anyone they want.

CALDWELL: Absolutely yes, and I'm so appreciative of KENW helping us do this. they were wonderful partners with the production end of this and, and will be putting together the post-production final, which will be posted on our website and you know we could not do it without KENW, so I really appreciate all that help.

CRISS:  Once again, thank you, Doctor Caldwell.

CALDWELL: Thank you.

CRISS:  This is Don Criss, and this has been Southwest Spotlight.