- Associated Press - Saturday, May 13, 2017

LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) - Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales is urging some of the state’s newest college graduates to stay in New Mexico and pursue their careers.

Gonzales delivered the commencement address Saturday at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas as many of the state’s universities and colleges hosted graduation ceremonies. He told the crowd that he was there to offers his congratulations but also to recruit.

“With every class we graduate, every generation of leaders we send out into our New Mexico economy, our schools, our government and our nonprofit community, we get one step closer to taking control of our state’s destiny,” Gonzales said in his prepared remarks.

The Santa Fe Democrat was the first in his family to attend college. He said it can’t be overstated how a college degree changes lives and opens doors.

At New Mexico Highlands, this year marks a record for the number of graduates at 1,051. About two thirds of them earned bachelor’s degrees, and the rest of them completed master’s degrees.

In southern New Mexico, officials at New Mexico State University said about 2,000 students would be receiving their degrees during the weekend’s commencement ceremonies.

Among those receiving honorary degrees was NMSU alumnus and Starbucks Chief Executive Kevin Johnson. He was being recognized Saturday for his successful career, commitment to service and generosity to the southern New Mexico school.

A New Mexico State University graduate himself, Gonzales in his commencement address urged Highland graduates to resist division and hatred. He said the potential for achievement is limitless when people put aside the things that keep them from working together.

“Division reinforces that sense that other people don’t matter or that we’re in this alone. Reject that notion,” he said. “You can be the antidote to division a little at a time every day, with every interaction and every decision you make.”

At the University of New Mexico, about 3,960 students were expected to receive degrees this spring. School officials said for the sixth consecutive year, the university will mark a record four-year graduation rate.

UNM for the first time planned to livestream the main commencement ceremony. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas planned to address students at the law school, and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry was scheduled to speak at the convocation for the political science department.

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