Two special students will graduate at Texas A&M Galveston’s commencement

Texas A&M University at Galveston will hold the institution’s Fall 2016 Commencement at 9 a.m. on Saturday, December 17th at the Galveston Island Convention Center, 5600 Seawall Blvd.

For this commencement, 172 degrees are slated to be granted that will include 153 bachelor’s degrees, 19 master’s degrees and 1 doctoral degree.

Graduating in this class is 74 year old Michael McAfee. He will be receiving a degree in University Studies, Environmental Law and Policy. “It's been both an exhilarating and humbling experience,” said McAfee. “I have always had it in the back of my mind to go back and finish. It has happened and I am very proud that I have been able to accomplish this goal.”

Also graduating is Jordan Merecka, with a degree in Maritime Administration. He was born with congenital heart effects, which later lead to congestive heart failure in 2011. At Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Merecka became the first teen in the world to receive the SynCardia total artificial heart, a wearable power supply that can be carried in a backpack. He used the artificial heart until he received a heart transplant in October 2011.

“I am seeking a career in hopefully logistics and shipping, hopefully on the maritime side,” said Merecka. “I feel that Texas A&M Galveston has prepared me for this career and given me the tools and base knowledge that I need to become successful.”

“I selected Texas A&M Galveston because of the small tight knit campus and community that it is. You really feel like a true family here because everybody knows pretty much everybody and you get more personalized instruction from your professors because the classes are so much smaller. And I loved the fact that I got to live on the water.”

To complete the ceremony, the student with the highest grade point average in the class will be observing a Texas A&M Galveston commencement tradition by striking a ship’s bell eight times. This observance is a reflection of the time-honored sea tradition of striking a bell eight times on a ship to acknowledge a change of watch. Here it recognizes that the current graduating class has achieved their goals and the graduates are embarking on the next stage of their lives.