UT Tyler fall 2018 commencement ceremonies kicked off Fri. Dec 14 with the College of Nursing and Health Sciences as well as the College of Arts and Sciences.
Honors student Alexis Arrieta graduated today in nursing and spoke to CBS 19 about what the past four years have been like.
"I was also an athlete and I worked so that was very difficult but I've learned in college to be very good at time management," Arrieta said.
She also participated in research for two years with the support of the UT Tyler staff, who encouraged her ambition.
"I did a project over making a scale for adolescents to see how they progress into adulthood and then I got to take it to Boston this year," she said. "I went to an honors conference there and presented my research. When I interviewed for my job, they asked me about the research I've done."
Alexis will soon head to Baylor Scott and White in Fort Worth where she has been offered a job as a transplant nurse.
"It is amazing I'm so excited,"she said. "I never really thought about it transplant, but when I went there and they were talking about how you can really connect with patients and you get to tell people that they're getting pretty much a new start to life, that's exactly what I want to do."
Her work doesn't stop when she steps off the stage, either.
"I still have to pass the NCLEX which is our nursing board exam, so after graduation we go right into studying for that test so hopefully in the next month or so I will have that and I will be a registered nurse. I start working in January."
Between graudation and the NCLEX, she said she take some time to enjoy the holidays at home before she starts her new career.
Arietta is also planning a wedding to her finace, who she got engaged to earlier this year.
Kyle Labouve also earned his degree in nursing today.
He also worked through school to support his young family which became overwhelming at times.
Instead of stopping, he decided to attend UT Tyler part time, with his family and UT Tyler support system cheering him on.
"It shows my daughters and my son that to keep striving for the things that you want and so that's what ive been doing," he said. "I started out full time, but I had to go part time because things became hectic. My aunt got sick and I helped her. The important thing to me is to show my kids that education is power."
He was inspired to go into nursing by several of his loved ones, including one that he lost too soon.
"My grandmother died and maybe simple CPR could have saved her life," he said.
Now he will help others within the Christus Trinity Mother Frances Hospital network, where he has already been offered a position.
"During a job fair, my teacher Ms. Hall told me, 'Print out business cards, and you can be the one to stand out,' and so i followed her advice," said Labouve.
He is also a member of the Student Nurses Association, where he helps advocate on behalf of other nursing students.
He says he looks forward to using his degree to help his East Texas community.