It was the end of the college era, but the beginning of a new career and a bright future as 602 students received degrees from Texas A&M University-Kingsville during two winter commencement ceremonies held Friday, Dec. 14, in the Steinke Physical Education Center. There were 344 bachelor's degrees, 248 master's degrees and 12 doctoral degrees given.

This is the largest number of master's degrees awarded since August 1976 when 369 master's degrees were awarded. The second largest number occurred in August 1977 when 244 graduates received master's degrees.

The keynote speaker for both ceremonies was Dr. Linda Villarreal, executive director of the Education Service Center, Region 2 in Corpus Christi. She earned bachelor's of science, master's of science and doctoral degrees from Texas A&I University/A&M-Kingsville. An educator for 28 years, Villarreal has worked as a teacher, principal and superintendent in South Texas schools. As a principal and superintendent, Villarreal worked with her staff to create an innovative educational environment for children that earned her staff and district state awards for outstanding student achievement.

The majority of the members of the winter class of 2007 were from Texas with 425 from the Lone Star State. Four were from other states and 173 were from other countries when they entered the university. The most frequent county of origin was Bexar with 113 graduates, followed by Kleberg with 59, Nueces with 57, Jim Wells with 31 and Hidalgo with 26 each.

Nearly half (49 percent) of the graduating students were minorities. The class was 50 percent female and 50 percent male.

Of the bachelor's graduates, 37 percent entered the university as first-time freshmen while the remaining 63 percent were transfer students. The average age of those receiving bachelor's degrees was 27. The average age of a master's graduate was 26 and the average of the doctoral students was 43.

For bachelor's degree recipients, the College of Arts and Sciences led the way with 113 graduates. It was followed by the College of Education with 83. Rounding out the list was the College of Business Administration with 79, the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering with 50 and the College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences with 19.

Four of the graduates were university employees; three received a bachelor's degree and one earned a master's.

Local and area graduates from Texas A&M University-Kingsville - Fall 2007

Agua Dulce

Joy Sunshine Vanover, Bachelor of Business Administration

Alice

Anna Liza Gomez Acevedo, Master of Science in Industrial Management; Vanessa Ann Baker, Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude; Romeo Renato Barrera, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering; Stephanie Beltran, Bachelor of Business Administration; Christopher Aron De Leon, Bachelor of Arts; Kathryn L. Garcia, Bachelor of Science; Arnoldo P. Garza II, Bachelor of Business Administration; Jennifer Lee Gonzalez, Bachelor of Business Administration; Joyce Gonzalez-Garcia, Bachelor of Science, cum laude; Kelly Nicole Lerma, Bachelor of Science, cum laude; Lynette S. Lopez, Master of Education; Monica Yvette Munoz, Master of Art; Randal Ray Ramirez, Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering; Andrea Celeste Revilla, Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude; David Salazar, Bachelor of Business Administration; Harry Smithwick II, Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology, cum laude; Eileen Kristen Ybarra, Bachelor of Business Administration; Ana Alicia Ynfante, Bachelor of Science, cum laude

Benavides

Cristina Marie Carrillo, Bachelor of Science; Araceli Elizondo, Bachelor of Science; Marivel Laurel, Bachelor of Science

Falfurrias

Sarah F. Benavides, Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering; Valerie Lynn Garza, Master of Science; Lisa Lara, Bachelor of Science; Judith A. Mancillas, Bachelor of Arts; Imelda Rosas Morales, Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science; Viktorya Lee Perez, Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science; Amorette Salas, Bachelor of Science; Gildardo Salazar Jr., Master of Science; Rachel Lynn Santiago, Bachelor of Arts, cum laude; Floresville; Rose Mary Hernandez, Bachelor of Business Administration; Fredericksburg; Lauren Williamson, Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, magna cum laude

Freer

Gina Marie Guajardo, Master of Science; Frances Ann Martinez-Perez, Master of Science; Sophia G. Reyes, Bachelor of Science, cum laude

Orange Grove

Stephanie Jo Hackleman, Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science; Gabriel Joseph Ortiz, Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering

Premont

Salina Deorica Cantu, Master of Science; Mary Claudette Garcia, Bachelor of Arts, cum laude; Chad Warren O'Gorman, Master of Science; Amy Angela Sain, Bachelor of Science

Riviera

Nerisa Ann Zavala, Bachelor of Arts

San Diego

Belinda Garcia Briones, Master of Business Administration

Sandia

Lisa Joy Bluntzer, Bachelor of Fine Arts