Santa Fe Community College Announces New Mexico Higher Education Cabinet Secretary Barbara Damron, Ph.D. to provide Commencement Keynote Student Speaker Mollie Leila-Rose Kelly to address Class of Spring 2018


Santa Fe Community College is pleased to announce that New Mexico Cabinet Secretary of Higher Education Barbara Damron, Ph.D., will provide the keynote address to the graduates of the Class of Spring 2018. Graduation is Saturday, May 12 at 10 a.m. in the William C. Witter Fitness Education Center on the SFCC campus at 6401 Richards Ave. in Santa Fe.

“Our graduates have worked hard to earn their certificates and degrees, and we are tremendously proud of them,” said Cecilia Y.M. Cervantes, Ph.D., interim president of Santa Fe Community College. “We wish them continued success and we feel confident that they will go on to greater achievements in life, in the community, and in their careers. I thank each and every graduate for selecting Santa Fe Community College and making us their higher education choice.”

“I am extremely proud of every one of these graduates. As our students grow and enter into the 21st-century workforce, it’s imperative that they gain the skills and education needed to be successful,” said Secretary Damron. “Santa Fe Community College is acutely aware of the economic and workforce needs of Santa Fe and the surrounding areas. The students who graduate from SFCC will be able to earn more and will be able to achieve more professionally and personally because of their time here.”

As the State Higher Education Executive Officer (SHEEO) for New Mexico, Secretary Damron has oversight of the state’s 28 public institutions of higher education, four tribal colleges, and over 180 private and proprietary postsecondary schools. She chairs the New Mexico Education Trust Board and is a Commissioner of the Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education. She most recently was Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico College of Nursing and at the School of Medicine in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at UNM Health Science Center. She previously worked as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Academy of Medicine Fellow on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in Washington, D.C. Secretary Damron has more than 30 years of experience as an advanced practice nurse, a health care executive, a college professor, an international consultant, and a cancer scientist.

Secretary Damron received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, and a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She completed a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, with a concentration in social/personality/developmental psychology applied to oncology, from the University of Texas at Austin.

Student Speaker Mollie Leila-Rose Kelly graduates with an Associate of Arts in Psychology. She plans to address the topic “Overcoming the Divisiveness of Today.”

Kelly came to SFCC to earn a high school diploma; then chose to continue on to college. Working, going to school and being a single mom kept Mollie focused on her goal. She plans to go to Northern New Mexico College for her bachelor’s degree.

“SFCC made it possible for me to attend college,” said Kelly. “My daughter was small when I decided to go back to school. I could choose from many class options that could work with my schedule and I could afford the tuition.”

The Class of Spring 2018 includes 444 graduates ranging in age from 16 to 84 (in December 2017 at the college’s first fall semester commencement ceremony, there were more than 450). Forty-four graduates will receive multiple awards, and 17 graduates are veterans or the spouse or dependent of a veteran. The college will award 192 associate degrees and 302 certificates, with the most numerous associate degrees awarded in Nursing and Business Administration and the most numerous certificates awarded in Community Health Worker Training and Nursing Assistant. More than half of the graduates are Hispanic or Latino and six percent are American Indian or Alaska Native.

Mariachi Azteca will perform the recessional music.

Maps to the college, the Fitness Education Center and parking can be found here: https://www.sfcc.edu/maps/.


For more than three decades, Santa Fe Community College has served as the gateway to success for individuals and the community. SFCC provides affordable, high quality educational programs that serve the social, cultural, technological and economic needs of a diverse community. The college serves more than 15,000 students per year in its credit, noncredit and adult education programs. For further information, visit the website or call 505-428-1000. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.