ROCK, N.M. - Gallup resident William Long, 18, got the night's biggest
reception during the University of New Mexico-Gallup commencement
ceremonies May 14 in the Red Rock Park amphitheater.
felt amazing," Long said.
accomplishment - earning a high school diploma and an associates
degree simultaneously - is the first for UNM and the first in the
just happened," said Long, who was unaware that he'd set a milestone
until his principal in the Middle College High School told him the
news. He received a letter from the New Mexico Senate confirming
his accomplishments and congratulating his efforts.
is the son of Calvin and Genice Long of Gallup and the second youngest
of five brothers and one sister.
proud of it," he said with a broad smile. "I was actually surprised
when I got the news. I really didn't plan for it."
the beginning of his high school career his mother, Genice, had
looked into the UNM program. For Long, the choice was either being
home-schooled or going through the program.
College is an accredited charter school where students can earn
high school and college credits at the same time, according to the
UNM-Gallup Web site.
receive tutoring as well as guidance and counseling for class selection,
college preparation and personal matters.
Middle College High School is an adult environment with students
expected to be responsible for their own educational progress and
said he will continue at UNM-Gallup until he completes his prerequisites
and then will transfer to the main campus in Albuquerque. He plans
to major in pharmacy.
the first student to earn both a high school diploma and a college
degree, Long hopes his accomplishment will encourage others to try
out the program.
was among 353 students who graduated from UNM-Gallup last week,
encouraged by the words of speakers and school officials to go out
and make a difference in their community.
graduate who already is doing so is Marie Begay of Lupton, Ariz.,
currently on leave from her job with the Navajo Nation's Community
Health Representatives office.
51, said she dropped out of high school in 1975, got married and
raised a family.
2000 she went back to school and earned her GED in 2002. Her son
shed tears as he watched her pick up her associates degree in community
feel really good, but I'm kind of wore out," Begay said. "I took
18 credit hours and I had to go (on) educational leave so I could
not too late," she said. "If I can do it, anybody can do it."
her celebrate the achievement were her husband Leon Frank, two children,
four grandkids, her nálí and her adopted son Dion
Reeves of Spencer Valley, NM, said Vice President Ben Shelly encouraged
her to continue her education in microcomputer operations.
said to me, 'We need microcomputer operators in the Navajo Nation,'
when he congratulated me," Reeves said. "He said it was needed on
the Navajo Reservation."
is currently employed with Western New Mexico University where she
believes her new degree will help her ascend the career ladder.
For now she plans to stay with WNMU, but hopes eventually work for
noted that people have the right to an education and that nothing
should stand in the way.
you leave here, think of yourselves like water," Shelly said. "When
water flows nothing can stop it. You put a boulder in front of it,
it will find a way to get around it. Think of yourself like water
and nothing can stop you."
information on Middle College High School: www.gallup.unm.edu/highschool/mchs/index.php.