Crestina Martinez tells ASC grads: "You can achieve dreams that don't exist today."

(12-19-2011)

"My youngest daughter is graduating from my alma mater -- it doesn't get any better than that," declared Ray Miller Adams State Class of 1983, as he entered Plachy Hall for Adams State's fall 2011 commencement ceremony. Miller, a San Luis Valley attorney and father of four, joined other proud family members and friends on a frigid, yet bright, morning, Dec. 17. His daughter, Wynona Miller, received her bachelor's degree in sociology/criminology.

The audience and graduates were addressed by Costilla County Commissioner and Executive Director of CarePoint, Crestina Martinez. the state's youngest serving county commissioner and 2011 San Luis Valley Person of the Year, she told of achieving "Dreams that Don't Exist."

The college awarded 45 associate's degrees and 82 bachelor's degrees.

Stephen Valdez 87, chair of the Adams State College Board of Trustees, thanked the graduates for choosing Adams State College. "Believe it or not, you've already accomplished something most people don't do in a lifetime: you've given back to ASC through the capital construction fee, assuring that future student will have the best facilities to receive an education."

Noting that the college will have completed $65 million worth of campus improvements between 2008 and 2016, Valdez added: "Our Board of Trustees had a vision in a down economy to make Adams State the best value in higher education. Our new and renovated facilities makes ours the best campus in the state."

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Melissa Slemp addressed the commencement audience on behalf of the Class of 2011.

Melissa Slemp, an Albuquerque native who graduated cum laude with a B.A. in English/secondary English education, gave the message on behalf of her class of 2011. "Today is the day we get to look back to and say, 'Yes, great things did begin here. ...' Most of us will be moving out of town and on to bigger and better things: graduate school, jobs, marriage -- I know --I don't want to grow up either. ....But if we can make it this far, we can make it the rest of the way."
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Costilla County Commissioner Crestina Martinez gave the fall 2011 commencement address.

Martinez shared with the graduates the lessons she has learned in the short time since she graduated from The Colorado College in 2004. "If someone had told me that I would be a public servant living in San Luis ...I probably would have laughed. But, here I am, living a dream I didn't even know existed. ....That is the great part of the unknown, of time, and of life. We never know where it is going to take us or what opportunities lay ahead of us."

Following college, she took what she assumed would be a temporary job as administrative assistant for Costilla. At one point, she said: "Something changed. ... I was amazed at how many decisions were made in that office, by three county commissioners. And to me, the opportunities were endless. I saw my community with new eyes and saw opportunities to have a positive impact, to be a change agent, and to be a valuable, contributing member of my community."

She condensed her experiences into five lessons:

    Keep learning.

    “One of the reasons I love to do what I do, is that there is always something new to learn. ... Learn from your success, learn from your mistakes, just keep learning."

    Be open to opportunity.

    "It wasn't part of my plan to be a candidate, but the opportunity presented itself. ... You have to be willing to open your eyes, ears, mind and heart to opportunity."

    You never know unless you try.

    "I thought long and hard about the opportunity of seeking the office of county commissioner, and I decided, 'What do I have to risk?' If I win, I win, and if I lose, I lose."

    Believe in yourself.

    "If you don't believe in you, how can others believe in you? ...Just make sure that you aren't telling yourself no. Don't set limits for yourself. There will be enough people trying to do that for you."

    Give people a chance.

    "At some point in our lives, someone believed in us, whether it was parent or a child, a professor or a spouse, a boss or a neighbor. We need to give others a chance to succeed, as well."

"Live your dreams," Martinez concluded, "even those you don't know exist today."

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(L-R) Jovanna Miller, Chris Medina, Kelsy McSpader

By Julie Waechter