Ruben Rojo looked proudly from the second story of Saint Martin’s University’s Marcus Pavilion on Saturday as his 22-year-old sister became the first member of their family to receive a college degree.
Originally from Mexico, Rojo’s family now lives in Seattle and has been counting the days to celebrate Margarita Rojo-Gonzalez’s accomplishment.
Rojo used his cellphone to take video as his sister walked into the building along with the rest of the 2013 graduating class.
He also captured the family’s reaction. All were overwhelmed with joy.
“We are all so proud of her,” said Anabel Parra, Rojo-Gonzalez’ sister-in-law.
The nearly 100 master’s and more than 350 undergraduate degree students at Saturday’s ceremony came from 16 states and six countries.
At least four were missing from the Pavilion: seniors Joslyn Eugenio, Madi Davis, Taylor Bakos and Aubree Pocklington. They were giving their all on the university softball team’s first NCAA tournament in California.
To them, the choice was clear.
“We have no regrets at all right now,” Eugenio said by phone during Saturday’s ceremony from the tournament.
The girls had just lost a game 6-5 to Humboldt State University, and later defeated Grand Canyon University, 8-5. The Saints must win twice against Humboldt State today to win the regional.
“I feel like if we made another choice, we would regret not being here with our team, finishing the season,” Eugenio said.
Their coach, Rick Noren, didn’t want the seniors’ graduation to go unnoticed, tournament or not.
The plan was to hold a mock ceremony of sorts at the hotel after Saturday’s games.
“We want them to get a little of that ceremony feel,” Noren said.
“We bought some mortar boards and will have them dress up.”
Back at Saint Martin’s, the rest of the class experienced the pomp and circumstance.
The Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain, archbishop of Seattle, commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient, encouraged the graduates to go out into the world as “class acts.”
“As a matter of course, treat every person with respect. Be a person who never belittles another person,” Sartain said.
“Be someone who builds up, and never tears down.”
Valedictorian Rebeka Dach Santos, who graduated with a degree in biology with a 4.0 GPA, asked her classmates to reflect on what brought them to the ceremony.
“Know that it is not just a piece of paper. It’s a symbol,” Santos said.Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/thisjustin