Casto Gomez-Ruiz & Darian Murphy
Left to Right: Casto Gomez-Ruiz, Dr. Barbara Beebe, and Darian Murphy.
The 2015 Western Texas College graduating class will include two student-athletes honored for their work in the classroom, but one of them will not be able to walk across the stage.
This year’s outstanding students, Casto Gomez-Ruiz and Darian Murphy, have a grade point average of 3.8 or better.
But Gomez-Ruiz will not participate in Friday’s commencement because he is playing in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) men’s golf tournament in Kansas.
Gomez-Ruiz, who is from Spain, wanted to play college golf, but his SAT scores were not high enough. However, a coach told him there was still a way to achieve his goals.
“The coach I was talking with, he told me I could go to a junior college,” Gomez-Ruiz said. “He knew the coach at WTC and he recommended I come here. So I came here, studied to get my degree and then transfer to a Division I school.”
Gomez-Ruiz said the two main struggles for him when he started at WTC were the language barrier and the size of the community.
He said support from teammates, coaches and professors helped make the transition smoother.
“I knew my English was below average when I moved here,” Gomez-Ruiz said. “I wanted to try to improve my English every day. Also, coming from Spain, everything (in Snyder) was new to me, and really small. But that’s nice because you get to know a lot of people. I really like the people from this area because they were all willing to help. That was really nice for me.”
With the help from his teachers and studying, Gomez-Ruiz finished with a 3.78 grade point average and majors in business administration.
Since he was named the outstanding student, he was scheduled to speak Friday night at The Coliseum. Since he is not in town, he chose classmate Clay Ham to speak on his behalf.
“Clay has been really helpful to me this semester in my math class,” Gomez-Ruiz said. “He was nominated for this award as well, and I thought it would be a good idea to have him do this.”
After graduation, Gomez-Ruiz will achieve his goal of playing Division I gold, signing a letter of intent with the newly formed University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in April.
Murphy is a member of the softball team and is studying nursing. In her two years in Snyder, she has succeeded at both.
As a shortstop and a third baseman, Murphy had a .284 batting average during her two seasons. Off the field, she has a 3.8 grade point average and was named a NJCAA academic al-American as a freshman.
Murphy said being named the outstanding female student makes her proud of the hard work and sacrifice she put into her studies.
“It means a lot to me,” Murphy said. “It means all my hard work is paying off.”
Murphy said balancing academics and athletics could be “daunting at times,” but ultimately helped her time management skills.
“I just studied as much as I could,” Murphy said. “the softball team had a study hall, and I tried to take advantage of that as much as possible. Some nights I would have to stay up late.”
After graduation, Murphy will move a little closer to her hometown of Alamogordo, N.M. and attend New Mexico State University to continue pursuing her nursing degree. She will not play softball because nursing students at the university are not allowed to be on athletic teams.
“I’ve been playing since I was about five years old,” Murphy said. “It was kind of a hard decision, but school is more important to me.”
Article Re-printed with permission from Snyder Daily News