A&M-Corpus Christi Professor Honors Own Sister in College of Education ‘Hooding’ Ceremony
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas— A bit of sisterly competition and steady encouragement are culminating this week at the hooding ceremony for the College of Education, set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20 in the University Center Ballroom.
There, Dr. Carmen Tejeda-Delgado, Associate Professor, will welcome as a fellow scholar her older sister Velma Gonzalez who is receiving a Master of Science in Reading.
“Velma affectionately refers to me as “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!,” Carmen said, evoking the lament from “The Brady Bunch” about the overachieving sister.
“We come from a very close family,” Carmen said. “All my five sisters are close, but Velma and I are the ones who went into education.”
“I always encouraged her and she encouraged me,” Velma said. “We always looked out for each other.”
For Carmen, it was Velma sitting with her through late nights at Whataburger preparing surveys for her doctoral degree. For Velma, it was Carmen reminding her the many days at the library away from her family would be worth it.
The sisters’ parents, Juan and Consuelo Tejeda, shared the importance of education with their nine children.
“They encouraged us, my mom especially,” Velma said. “With anything she could help us with, not monetary, but babysitting or anything she could do.”
Carmen, who has been a professor at the University for five years, is also an Island University alumna, receiving her doctorate in 2003 and her undergraduate degree in 1998.
She recalls the support her mother gave her, when she would wonder about the effect on her small children of all her time away studying.
“So many times I wanted to just stop, to quit, to not go on,” she said. “I was telling my mom that I feel like an absentee mom, and I remember her telling me that my babies are so little they won’t remember, and she would say do it now, and they will benefit from this.”
Carmen shared that same support with Velma, who is four years older, and added her own understanding of what she was going through.
“I know the full scope of what the program is,” Carmen said. “I know the sacrifices she had to make to finish.”
Velma didn’t have her sister as a professor, though.
“She avoided me 100 percent,” Carmen laughed. “And I’m not that easy, so it’s good she avoided me.”
Velma knew she wanted to be a teacher right after she graduated from high school, but she went into dental assisting before receiving her undergraduate degree at the Island University in 2007 while working as a program specialist in the College of Education.
“I applied to work at the University, hoping and praying, to get the job and to return to school,” she said.
The tuition assistance she received from the University made all the difference.
“Working here at the University, it really opened my eyes,” Velma said. “I knew I could do it. It would be time consuming, time away from my kids, a big sacrifice, but I knew the importance of an education.”
Velma has been a teacher for seven years, and is now teaching fourth grade at Club Estates Elementary in Corpus Christi.
Both sisters are looking forward to the intimate hooding ceremony. Carmen even shared with her sister the secret loop on the graduate hood to keep it from sliding back.
“I think this is going to feel wonderful,” Velma said. “Of course, I’m a crier, so I know I’m going to cry. It’s going to be an honor to have my little sis honor me this way.”
Velma remembers the Carmen’s hooding ceremony for her doctorate.
“When I came to see her graduate, and heard her speech,” Velma said. “It was awesome, and it gave me hope that one day I too would someday be going through that.”
“I’m proud of her,” Carmen said.
And this may not be the end of schooling for Velma.
“I was making sure my dad had the day off for the ceremony,” Velma said. “And he said to me when are you getting your doctorate?”