Austin Community College District (ACC) celebrates a record number of graduates at its spring 2022 commencement ceremony. More than 3,340 students are invited to participate Friday, May 13, at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.

As students prepare for their next step, they are looking back on the faculty and staff members who helped them succeed.

Pete R., Journalism 

I can’t graduate without thanking the class-act person and all-around amazing instructor, Professor Paul Brown. He’s been incredibly helpful and supportive throughout my time at ACC. Dr. Brown teaches his journalism classes in such an infectious way that before you know it, you’ll want to be a journalist too.

Read more from Pete here

Lira R., General Studies 

I definitely want to take the time to thank all of the amazing faculty and staff who have helped me to get where I am today and inspired me to stay involved with higher education. I especially wanted to thank Dr. Georgia Xydes, Dr. Lei Ji, Dr. Janice Lai, Dr. Julie Kleinhans, Dr. Mark Armstrong, and Dr. Tom Echols, along with Mohammed Elghoul, Renee Esparza, the Student Accessibility Services staff, and my academic advisors. Thank you so much for all of your support, guidance, and insight.

Read more from Lira here

Rebekah P., Global Studies 

I want to recognize and thank Dr. William Watkins, my first professor at ACC. His intro to philosophy class gave me my lifelong passion for philosophy. I realized in his class that philosophy was my calling, my passion, and my muse. He saw potential in me and gave me the keys to unlock that within myself. I will never forget his guidance in that very first course I took in college, helping me to start the philosophy club, or asking me to be an SI for his class. I learned I loved teaching and education by being an SI. I still have my PHIL 1301 SI notebook that I keep as one of my favorite mementos!

Dr. David Lauderback is another professor I am grateful to for mentoring me, believing in me, and allowing me to push myself to academic heights I never knew I could achieve. His mentorship and class made me feel prepared for even a graduate-level education after my paper on a conflict transformation plan on U.S. foreign policy! I learned through his class that I enjoy political philosophy and finding ways to use philosophy and social sciences to create real-life policy implications.

Dr. Sarah Bowman introduced me to the world of Peace and Conflict Studies, which quickly became another one of my callings. Her course is still one of my favorite and quite literally changed my outlook on the world and on peacebuilding and gave me hope. In her class, I was able to combine pop culture, history, art, music, philosophy, economics, and politics to understand human conflict and transformation. Her kindness and mentorship allowed me to succeed in her course.

Dr. Lei Ji is, in my opinion, one of the best economics professors you could ask for. She is brilliant and explains the practical intuition behind economics. Economics was the missing puzzle piece I needed to help me understand the world around me and weave it into philosophy, political science, sociology, and humanities. Her encouragement to delve deeper into economic theories helped me not be afraid of any harder material.

Mary Kohls and Dr. Reed Peoples guided and pushed me to pursue being a College Project officer for Phi Theta Kappa. Without them and that push, I would have never learned I enjoy and have potential in doing social research, statistics, and policy analysis! Mary Kohls and Dr. Peoples made me feel proud of my accomplishments by always recognizing me and seeing me when I felt like no one else could. 

Finally, I want to thank Dr. Ariana Cortes for pushing me to be an officer for ACC’s Sociology Club. Dr. Cortes’s passion for sociology is contagious! She helped show me how I can combine all my skills and passions into a future career.

Read more from Rebekah here.