Texas Tech University

Ready for the World

Leslie Cranford

May 30, 2023

Online students learn life lessons, overcome obstacles to earn their diplomas.

Members of the Texas Tech High School Class of 2023 attend the onsite commencement ceremony May 20 at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.

One will be a nurse, one a criminal psychologist. One wants to own a cattle ranch, while another will pursue equine production. One will play hockey, while one pursues basketball. Some will enter the workforce. Several want to start their own business. Many will take a next step to higher education, either in a community college or university setting, and more than a few plan to attend Texas Tech University. For the Texas Tech University High School Class of 2023, there are as many paths forward as there are students.

Texas Tech University High School hosted its annual on-site commencement ceremony May 20, celebrating the 212 students who completed their requirements in the past academic year, and honoring the 42 students who attended the ceremony to represent their class and walk the stage to receive their diplomas.

Brian Still
Brian Still, vice provost in the Division of eLearning & Academic Partnerships speaks to the graduating class about telling their stories and having hope.

Texas Tech High School is part of TTU K-12, a fully online, Texas Education Agency-approved school in which students work at their own pace and often complete the graduation requirements throughout the traditional school year.

The commencement speaker was Brian Still, vice provost for eLearning & Academic Partnerships at Texas Tech. A professor of technical communication, Still was officially appointed as vice provost effective Jan. 2, after serving as interim vice provost since June of 2022.

Still engaged the graduates and others present by talking about their stories and his own.

“What is so unique about this school is that you sit next to people who now share something in common with you, but whose stories you likely do not know,” he said. “Such is the capability of virtual learning. You can complete your education but not do it shoulder to shoulder with your peers. Nevertheless, you all have extraordinary stories, of trial and tribulation, of two steps back but obviously many, many more steps forward.”

Kyle Mosley
Kyle Mosley is still deciding his path in higher education. He poses with Cari Moye, TTU K-12 principal (left), and Scott Lucas, TTU K-12 superintendent (right).

Kyle Mosley of Houston, who is still assessing his college options, faced some of those trials.

“Two life events challenged me over the past year and a half,” Mosley said. “My mother told me I must strive for greatness and persevere through all situations, no matter the circumstances. In doing so, I was able to come back into the light and become the best possible student. Walking that stage is one of the best privileges to be awarded to someone. To see the sum of four years of hard work is all that I wanted for me and my parents.”

Danielle Semine, also from Houston, said it wouldn't have been possible for her to graduate without the support of her parents, teachers, adviser, and the staff at TTU K-12.

“There were a lot of challenges and obstacles on my journey to graduation, but they made getting my diploma so much more meaningful,” she said. “It took me an extra year to complete high school because of health issues, and there were times when I questioned whether I would be able to graduate. I'm proud to be attending Trinity University this fall and will forever cherish being a Red Raider!”

Danielle Semine
Danielle Semine will explore academic interests at Trinity University.

Still went on to relate his own story, remembering his childhood, his dad lacing up his steel-toed boots in the darkest hours of the morning, before heading off to work on the railroad.

“He sometimes took a gun with him because the railroad yards were full of bad characters,” Still said. “All of his buddies, including him, were young veterans, starting families, trying to make their way in the world after the Vietnam War. He had done barely enough to graduate from high school. He went to work in the middle of the night, braving dangerous conditions, so we could have food on the table. I would have followed in his footsteps, would have never had an education past high school, if I couldn't throw a baseball harder than most, taking advantage of a scholarship to be the first in my family ever to go to college.”

Many of the graduates attended school through TTU K-12 to participate in and pursue areas of interest. Madilyn Howell, who traveled from Spring Branch, Texas, to walk the stage, will major in agricultural communications at Texas Tech.

Madilyn Howell
Madilyn Howell will attend Texas Tech University, majoring in agricultural communications.

“I started TTU K-12 this year to finish my senior year,” she said. “I am heavily involved in showing sheep and goats, so I miss a lot of school in the spring. I switched to online school this year because I knew it would make stock show season easier, and I could enjoy my senior year with less stress. I have loved Texas Tech High School. Online school has pushed me to learn time management and prepare me for college. This was not the way I thought I would walk the stage, but I wouldn't change it for anything.”

Paige Grandjean, of Cypress, Texas, will attend Baylor University for interior design and plans to start a home remodeling and decorating business. She also is working toward earning her real estate license.

“Thanks to TTU K-12, I was able to finish high school at my own pace. I worked part-time too and advanced into leadership positions there,” she said. “My confidence in my business skills grew while taking the entrepreneur and budget electives. These classes were a great foundation and will help me to one day reach my goals of working in the home design/decorating field and real estate sales.”

Paige Grandjean
Paige Grandjean is one of 42 students who traveled to the Texas Tech campus to represent the 212 students of the Class of 2023.

In his closing comments, Still sent the graduates off to begin the next part of their journey.

“Ponder for a while your stories now, congratulate yourself on their making, and then go make more,” Still said. “You have a journey before you. Do all you can to chart it, to follow a path that makes the most sense, but have faith that you will get to where you need to be, where you should be, whatever may happen in between.”