While the end of a semester marks the start of winter break for most college students, it also signals the beginning of the rest of their lives for many others — graduation.
Eagles usually fly alone, but on graduation days Friday and Saturday, University of North Texas grads took off together as they said goodbye to another chapter in their life. More than 3,500 students were expected to walk the stage during ceremonies Friday and Saturday at UNT’s Coliseum and Murchison Performing Arts Center.
Loved ones scanned the rows and rows of seats for empty chairs. Meanwhile, their grads were waiting in the tunnels making sure they looked their best while they waited for their cue.
Emotions run high during graduations for loved ones and grads alike. Nora Mejia of Plano choked up and teared up as she spoke of how proud she is of her son, Alberto Josue Mejia, for graduating. She spoke with a hand on her heart.
“It’s pretty exciting and I’m so proud of him,” Nora Mejia said, bouncing back between English and Spanish. “All the sacrifices he’s made, he’s conquered and is graduating today. The whole family is proud.”
Icis Burgos had another thing to celebrate Saturday along with graduating — getting engaged. Her now-fiance proposed to her right before the graduation ceremony ended in front of thousands of people in the Coliseum.
Marlon Craddock said he had been planning this proposal for about two months.
“First I wasn’t sure it would come together, but I prayed about it,” Craddock said.
Burgos was the last student to walk the stage and head back to her seat. She said someone pulled her aside and told her she’d won a raffle to be the last person to walk the stage, so she went along with it, not knowing what was about to happen.
At the center of the aisle, Craddock came up to her with a microphone in hand and told Burgos she was “the best thing that’s ever happened to [him].”
The proposal brought out the loudest applause from attendees as they congratulated the happy couple.
Outside, grads took pictures and celebrated with their families. Sororities and fraternities like Alpha Kappa Alpha sang and chanted around the new alums.
Twins Jasmine and Jaylne Bell both graduated during Saturday’s ceremony at noon.
“It’s a blessing,” Jaylne said.