AC commencement ceremonies set for 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on May 12th

Amarillo College will conduct a pair of Spring commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 12 at the Amarillo Civic Center, where as many as 1,104 spring and summer 2023 graduates will be eligible to take part in the back-to-back rites of passage.

The first ceremony begins at 3 p.m. and will be a celebration of graduates from AC’s Health Sciences, Industry, and Public Service communities.

In the 7 p.m. nightcap, graduates from the remaining career communities will be honored: Business, CIS, Creative Arts, Education, Liberal Arts, STEM and General Studies.

Eligible to participate are 858 spring graduates, along with 267 students who anticipate completing their academic requirements this summer.

Watch the Livestream here

Continuing a cherished AC tradition, each ceremony will feature a student speaker.

Gracie Porras, a sonography major from Bovina, will address her fellow graduates during the opening ceremony. Porras, 32, is a mother of four who graduated from Bovina High School in 2008 and moved with her family to Amarillo when she was accepted into AC’s Sonography Program in 2021.

“Being chosen to speak at commencement is a great honor,” Porras said. “When I first came to AC I was very shy and anything but confident, but the program and my teachers gave me confidence and brought me out of my shell.

“I’ll do my best to share my story, which is basically that nothing is impossible,” she said. “If I can have four kids and still graduate from college and start a career in a healthcare field, then anything is possible. Whatever anyone dreams of doing after AC, I want them to believe they can do it.”

Porras, who already works as a sonography practitioner at both Northwest Texas Hospital and High Plains Radiology, was named AC’s Outstanding Sonography Major for 2023. She also served as vice president of AC’s Sonography Club.

Liv Cawthon, an English major who for the last two years has been fully immersed in AC’s Presidential Scholars program, will serve as speaker for the ceremony at 7 p.m.

“This is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m very excited about it,” said Cawthon, who will be attending the University of Texas at Austin beginning next fall. “My speech will touch on taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves and making the most out of every experience, like I did at AC.”

Cawthon is a 2021 graduate of Randall High School who, because she longed for the “full university experience,” was hesitant about attending a community college. But when she was offered a spot in AC’s prestigious Presidential Honors Program, which in addition to rigorous out-of-classroom experiences, promises a trip abroad, she decided to give AC a try.

“Last year we went to Poland and it was not only impactful, it was life-changing for me,” Cawthon said. “The topics I discussed with my peer scholars were so elevated. My peers were so eloquent. I had never experienced anything like it before, and I believe it was then when I felt like I’d become an adult.”

Cawthon, who hopes one day to achieve a doctoral degree and teach English literature at the highest level of higher education, says she will happily embrace her memories of AC over the long haul.

“AC is special because of the environment they’ve built,” she said. “Because it’s a two-year school, people come and go faster than at a university, so it can be a challenge to create and maintain a sense of community. But they’ve succeeded in creating a community here at AC, and that definitely makes it special.”

While at AC, Cawthon held membership in the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and the AC student ambassador’s group called the Blue Blazers, for which she additionally served as a student worker.