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CNM springs Graduation Inspiration Day

Central New Mexico Community College achievement coach Shelby Villegas "flash advises" student Lyle Nicholson at the college's main campus on Tuesday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Central New Mexico Community College achievement coach Shelby Villegas “flash advises” student Lyle Nicholson at the college’s main campus on Tuesday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Alfredo Nevarez didn’t expect to see anyone at the main campus of Central New Mexico Community College dressed in graduation robes Tuesday morning. But he did.

In fact, he and other students at all seven CNM campuses were surprised when faculty and staff members showed up for school clad in cap and hood and gown – the full, traditional academic graduation regalia.

The faculty and staff called it Graduation Inspiration, a day-long event highlighting the tremendous importance of graduation.

Nevarez was happy to talk with an adviser at one of several “flash advising” information tables set up around campus. He said he picked up some valuable tips from the adviser-in-black about what he will need to graduate in 2016 with a degree in business administration.

Meanwhile, Melanie Viramontes was teaching freshman English in a fourth-floor classroom in Max Salazar Hall. A 2008 New Mexico State University graduate, she, too, was dressed in academic garb, and posters extolling graduation graced walls in the room.

“Education is the gateway to a better life,” Viramontes said, her blue jeans and sneakers peeking out from under her gown.

ROUSH: Psychology professor came up with the idea

ROUSH: Psychology professor came up with the idea

It all started last semester when Kristin Roush, a psychology professor and doctor of philosophy, “spontaneously” showed up on the main campus dressed in her cap, gown and hood and carrying a homemade sign that proclaimed, “GRADUATE! You Know You Want To!”

“I walked all over campus making a spectacle of myself,” Roush said. “I walked through the library, the cafeteria, the bookstore, the Student Services Building, through classrooms, everywhere.

“I accosted students, asking, ‘Are you planning to graduate?’ They loved it. I even went over to the Administration Building and crashed a meeting that President Kathie Winograd was having with her executive team. She loved it!”

Roush then told Dean Erica Volkers that she would like to see all faculty and staff members wear academic robes to school to focus attention on the tremendous value of graduation. “Erica took the idea to the vice president and the other deans,” she said. “They all loved it!”

So a committee was formed. That was several months ago and the rest is now history, a closely held secret until Tuesday morning.

Besides the scholarly garb and flash advising, the graduation blitz included:

  • An electronic road sign near the Main Campus with various messages promoting graduation;
  • Life size cardboard cutouts of graduation regalia where students could pose for photos; and
  • Campus group photos.