2012 Spring Commencement
May 18, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- The daily juggle of athletic responsibilities and academic pursuits is merely part of the existence of a student-athlete at The University of Texas.
This day, however, held a little more significance, as they are among 72 student-athletes participating in the 2012 Spring Commencement at UT, yet they will also shed their caps and gowns to suit up for their respective sports teams this weekend in the field of competition.
"Rarely does the public get to see the behind-the-scenes of what these students encounter on a daily basis and how their discipline, hard work and determination help them navigate both of their athletic and academic worlds on a big stage," said Dr. Randa Ryan, senior associate athletics director for student services. "It's a tremendous accomplishment. It is a very happy day. It marks the celebration of a long four or five years for our students, and it's symbolic of their academic success and their future goals in life."
As Texas Softball prepares to host its third-straight NCAA Softball Regional this weekend, Taylor said it was equally important for this graduating trio to take a few hours early Friday to appreciate the journey of the previous four years.
"Being here at The University of Texas has been a blessing," Taylor said. "Myself, Courtney Craig and Lexy Bennett all came in together, and today we graduate together. It's just a huge accomplishment for our families. We're blessed to have had the opportunity to study and play here."
Kellen Damico, an All-American who pushed the Men's Tennis team to the NCAA finals in 2008, completed his athletic eligibility with the Longhorns last May, and spent the fall trying to gain traction on the professional tennis circuit.
But that time away from UT only reinforced Damico's drive to return to campus and complete his degree. He and his sister Krista, a senior for the women's tennis team, are both graduating this weekend.
"It hasn't been easy. This is a big deal. I'm nervous, because I've never really gotten an academic award before. The diploma will be my first," Kellen Damico said. "When I first got here, I didn't take it that seriously, and then as I got older and matured, I realized the importance of graduating.
"The University of Texas has given me a family, a life, a future -- everything that comes from now on will be because I'm a Longhorn, and I graduated. If you're able to come out of a university like this, you're on top of the world."
Ryan said that Damico's realization isn't unusual. It typically just comes with age and maturity.
"It's always wonderful to share reflections with students when they leave campus for a little while and step into the real world. Suddenly, the meaning of Texas, and what it stands for, and what it offers, becomes very important. They become very humble, grateful and willing to finish the journey," Ryan said.
Many of these graduating student-athletes will move on to pursue professions outside the world of athletic competition, and they will soon find that The University of Texas set them up for success.
"Honestly, I didn't think I would make it this far. I've been pushed mentally and physically in ways I didn't think I was capable," said Megan Rosenfeld of Women's Golf. "I'm just proud that I've found myself here. I've become a better leader, athlete and student."
University of Texas student-athletes participating in 2012 Spring Commencement