The University of New Mexico class of 1968 reunited this weekend to celebrate 50 years since their graduation. Alumni came from all over to take part in the “golden graduation.”
On Friday, the golden graduates had the chance to have refreshments and get fitted for their gold cap and gowns. They also received several gifts and memorabilia.
The golden graduates also went on a campus tour to see all of the changes and additions to UNM. Many departments, such as the College of Education and the College of Engineering, had their own receptions or luncheons to honor their golden graduates on Friday.
The alumni led the procession at Saturday’s commencement ceremony and was recognized as a group.
According to Susan MacEachen, associate director for alumni relations at UNM, the golden graduates were established because back in the day, many lobos were drafted for war as soon as school ended and did not have the chance to attend their graduation.
The golden graduate tradition gives an opportunity for those who missed out on their graduation to get the full experience. MacEachen said it has also become a fun reunion for classmates and their families.
She said her favorite part about putting together the golden graduates is hearing their stories and seeing the gleam in their eyes as they recall memories from their time in college.
“It’s a big deal, coming back to the University after 50 years,” MacEachen said. “They have a great time looking for old friends and reminiscing through the yearbooks.”
This year, there were around 30 golden graduates who were be recognized at UNM’s graduation ceremony.
Ellen Lipsman is one of the golden graduates. She graduated with a degree in education, and has been teaching in elementary schools ever since.
“I just adore this University — it is one of my most favorite places in the world,” Lipsman said.
She has been living in Florida, but she said she came back because she wanted to see her best friend and roommate from college, Sidney Klessinger.
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“We had a good time at UNM — too much of a good time my first two years,” Klessinger said jokingly. “We loved every minute of our four years here.”
The two roommates were also reunited with their old friend Steve Schroeder. He received degrees in business and public administration at UNM, and in the last 50 years, he has worked on everything from political consulting for Al Gore, to opening Nob Hill Music in Albuquerque.
“The influence of UNM on me was enormous because it started my life,” Schroeder said.
He said that he is extremely grateful for all the faculty that helped him on his journey, and who have welcomed him back this weekend.
After their 50th graduation anniversary, the alumni will become part of the heritage club. Members of the heritage club are invited back to campus each year for homecoming and graduation to make more memories with their fellow Lobos.
“Memories are important because when you get old it’s not about how much money you made or how many hours you worked,” Schroeder said. “It’s about the people you loved and the people that helped you along the way.”
Catherine Stringman is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cathey_stringam.