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Editorial: Graduation inspiration makes important goal real

No matter what age you are or where you are in your educational career, there’s just something inspiring about those who have already reached the goals to which you aspire.

And if there are costumes involved, so much the better.

Those basic facts make Kristin Roush’s idea sheer genius. Last semester, the Central New Mexico Community College psychology professor proposed having all faculty and staff members show up in their full academic regalia – robes, caps and hoods – to focus attention on the tremendous value of graduation.

Last week they did it.

The event included an electronic road sign near the Main Campus with various messages promoting graduation, life-sized cardboard cutouts of graduation finery where students could pose for photos, as well as campus group photos.

But the underlying message is much more than a day of dress-up. It’s that others have done this and you can, and should, too.

That’s vital in New Mexico, where three of every 10 students fail to graduate high school in four years, just 32 percent of residents have an associate’s degree or higher, and six-year graduation rates have yet to top 50 percent at any N.M. institution. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, just three states graduate a lower percentage of their public university students.

Melanie Viramontes, who wore her New Mexico State University gown to teach freshman English last week, says “education is the gateway to a better life.”

And Roush and the CNM brass deserve credit for understanding that seeing the tangible evidence of that better life, in the form of caps and gowns and hoods, makes the gateway more real to New Mexicans of any age.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.