By Andrea Hutchins

I join the board of the Chamber and my staff in wishing a hearty congratulations to all 2023 graduates. Whether from an area high school, trade school, EPCC or UTEP, we join you, your families, and friends in celebrating what you have accomplished.

Andrea Hutchins

This week, as our local school districts complete their commencement ceremonies, I’m struck by the impact our students will soon have on the world of higher education. From admission to the finest Ivy League schools to powerhouse, state universities, El Paso’s youth are about to embark on an amazing, life-changing adventure. 

When I returned to El Paso, I made a commitment through my role as president and CEO of the Chamber to be an advocate for advancing the region’s economic prosperity. That prosperity is driven by the engine of our youth’s intellectual spirit and drive to seek educational excellence.

I am in awe of the scholarships and recognition won by our area high school students and recognize they are committing to making their lives and the lives of those in their orbit, better. And, of course, I hope we do our part to make the local economy welcoming and accessible so that every student that wants to come back, can and will.

I am heartened by the fact that students graduating across our region are being educated in a bilingual, bicultural environment, and it’s having a positive impact on their perspective, their skill sets, and their competitiveness in the economy.

We can get lost in the turmoil of the border, but its presence and our collective connections to both sides of the line have a huge impact on how our students are educated and acculturated.

The Chamber advocates for every level of education, and we are cognizant that many students will find different paths to prosperity. It’s important to support different educational ventures, largely because the economy these students are entering calls for a wide range of skills and training.

I believe there is no perfect institution for educating our students, but there are lofty goals and aspirations we should strive for in terms of educational institutions.

It would be impossible to, in celebrating our graduates, not to celebrate our teachers. From new educators working with young minds to faculty in higher educational institutions, our community has exceptional classroom leadership. 

These educators are pouring their hearts into the work they do with students; it’s evident in the success and accomplishment of the students as it is in the accolades won by local educators. The Chamber salutes these efforts by teachers to encourage and engage our students and stands alongside these teachers as they send their charges into the world, proud of what the students have and will accomplish.

And a final word to parents – thank you. As a mother to two young men, I understand that what you do takes patience and love, and a sense of optimism. For many of you, you’ve juggled work and your own challenges to provide your children with opportunities that you might not have had.

I know from raising my boys, there are some sacrifices that will never be acknowledged, but nevertheless were made in the hope that your children never have to face the same challenges. I love talking about prosperity because my hope is that these graduates find their best path to a place of prosperity, economically and socially.

The Chamber could not be prouder of our El Paso graduates; from kindergarten to PhDs, our community advances through education. The Chamber stands ready to support our educational ventures at every step. Good luck, graduates – do us proud!

Andrea Hutchins is president and CEO of the El Paso Chamber.