First Mexico Grads Get Double Diplomas

By Ashley Festa

On June 21, bagpipers walked for the first time through the campus of Centro Universitario Incarnate Word (CIW), in Mexico, leading the university’s first nine graduates to their Commencement ceremony.


Dr. Louis Agnese (left), UIW president, and Marcos Fragoso (right), director of Centro Universitario Incarnate Word, give María Fernanda Hernandez her double diploma at CIW's first Commencement ceremony in June.

“Everything was as beautiful as it is here,” said Dr. Pat Watkins, UIW vice president of international programs, who attended the ceremony.

The only bagpipe group in Mexico led the procession from the newly-renovated science building through the campus to the auditorium. Faculty members lined the walkway, like at UIW, to applaud the graduates as they walked by. The entire scene resembled the winding procession of graduates seen each semester at Commencement ceremonies on the UIW campus in San Antonio.

“This was the first one so we had to have all this pomp and ceremony,” Watkins said. “We will always have pomp and ceremony, but this was very important.”

At the Commencement, Mauricio González Gómez spoke to graduates. González is the founding partner and now CEO of Grupo de Economistas Asociados, the strongest economic consulting group in Mexico. The Mission of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word permeated his address.

First Mexico grads

Marcos Fragoso ’07 MBA, the director of CIW, called it “a very emotional speech.”

In his Commencement address, González stressed to students the importance of helping others, Fragoso said. He told them to use the values they learned at the university throughout their lives to promote social justice and combat poverty and inequality. The economist also encouraged them to be more productive and efficient with the available resources.

Mariachis played at the reception afterward.

CIW opened in 2003 as a way for students in Mexico to earn double undergraduate college degrees from an American university that are fully recognized on both sides of the border by each country’s respective educational agencies.

At the ceremony, an American diploma was given by Dr. Louis Agnese Jr., UIW president, while Fragoso gave out Mexican certificates, which were later followed by specially made goat-skin diplomas. In addition, Watkins handed each graduate a medal that has the UIW logo on one side and the CIW logo on the other side.

The double degree is impressive because “it opens any doors that they want,” Watkins said. “It shows they have achieved competency” in Mexico and American schooling, including mastery of the English language. That means the students understand how subjects such as government, accounting, history, etc. apply in Mexico and how they apply in the United States.

Bagpipe group

The only bagpipe group in Mexico led the procession of students to the Commencement ceremony.

“They can walk comfortably through both cultures professionally,” Watkins said.

Set to graduate in December are 25 other students. Five students in the law program will receive a Mexican law degree and an American political science degree. Twenty other students will graduate with business degrees. Psychology and nutrition students are set to graduate in three years.

The enrollment for Fall 2008 is 241 students, which is a 20.5 percent increase from last fall semester, Fragoso said.

The school is still accepting students, but will reach capacity at about 800-1,000 students. “We’re already being more selective than when we started,” Watkins said.

There are 55 full- and part-time faculty members teaching at CIW.

When CIW opened, only three programs were available to students, but the university has increased its offerings to seven programs. A degree program in executive management is planned for Fall 2009. Fragoso said the program is ready and has been submitted to the Ministry of Education for approval. Students already are being recruited for the executive management program.