Harlingen School of Health Professions graduates students with medical certifications

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Valedictorian Jonathan Aguilar speaks Saturday, May 25, 2024, at the commencement ceremony for the Harlingen School of Medical Professions at the Harlingen Performing Arts Conservatory. (Travis Whitehead | Valley Morning Star)

HARLINGEN — Kristen Tovias couldn’t stop smiling.

Her son Brandon had just graduated from the Harlingen School of Health Professions and he already has certification as a pharmacy technician.

“As a mom it feels really great,” she said as Brandon stood next to her in his teal-and-gold graduation gown.

“I’m very very proud of him,” she said.

Brandon was one of 65 students who graduated Saturday at the Harlingen Performing Arts Conservatory. It was a fine ceremony with special recognition given to those who’d earned certifications in pharmacy tech, medical assistant and other related fields.

“As your personality develops through high school, you find your true self,” Valedictorian Jonathan Aguilar told an auditorium filled with parents and relatives and friends.

Superintendent J.A. Gonzalez, members of the Harlingen School Board and school administrators listened with faces shining as Jonathon’s eloquence filled the auditorium.

“Your identity is your own,” he continued. “Now, suddenly, you realize that you grew up and maybe you can’t live with your parents forever. It’s undeniable that our environment molded us into the people that we are today. Everyone who helped us get here instilled fragments of themselves into us. Everywhere we go, we carry those pieces.”

So many of those pieces now cheered from the rows of seats leading away from the stage where the graduates walked to receive their diplomas from board members and the superintendent.

“Aaron James Gallegos,” the announcer called out as his picture appeared on the screen, one as a graduate and another as a small boy.

Harlingen School of Health Professions graduates sing their school’s alma mater Saturday, May 25, 2024, at their commencement ceremony at the Harlingen Performing Arts Conservatory. (Travis Whitehead | Valley Morning Star)

There was an explosion of shouts and clapping and whistles as he walked across the stage. Every graduate’s name ignited a round of applause distinctive by the different parts of the sort of cacophonic chorus. They were bursts of unfettered glee, each with its own sound.

“Proud of you Haley!” a woman in the stands shouted.

Cristal Garcia was most ecstatic in her face and her eyes after receiving her diploma.

“It feels very good,” she said. “I have found many friends along the way and I am ready to start my new life with them.”

She most enjoyed the licensed vocational nurse program at the school.

“I plan to continue my career in the medical field as a nurse,” she said.

Cristal as referring to the LVN program at Valley Baptist Medical Center in which students from HSHP took college-level classes to earn their LVN certifications. During the ceremony, they were asked to stand and be recognized.

Maureen Livermore-Rattray, an instructor, was overjoyed to see them walk across the stage. They’ll complete their LVN studies in a few weeks.

“I was overcome with pride and joy, and my heart was filled with extreme happiness,” she said. “I felt like a mother celebrating her children’s milestones.”

Everyone seemed acutely aware of the achievements of all the graduates and the long hours of hard work and study they’d put in to achieve graduation day.

“I have persevered throughout my years and it feels really good to finally feel I can make my own choices,” he said.