By Hillary S. Meeks

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON – With 162 of Central Texas College's spring graduates in the military, it was no surprise that some of them weren't here to walk across the stage at Friday's commencement.

But one staff sergeant stationed in Iraq had a representative on hand to accept his diploma in his absence. Lynda Brudin, 12, was nervous but happy Friday when her father's name, Alec Brudin, was announced on the loudspeaker at the Bell County Expo Center. She walked proudly toward the front of the auditorium and took a red folder from a CTC professor.

"It's kind of nerve-wracking, but it's fun. My dad found out he was going to be in Iraq, so I thought it would be good for me to get his award for him," she said.

Walking behind Lynda, garbed in a black graduate robe, was her mother, Robbie Brudin. She was getting her own hard-earned diploma at the same time her daughter accepted her husband's by proxy.

"We had originally planned on graduating together and walking, but since he's stationed in Baghdad, we couldn't do that," Robbie said. "When I told him CTC was going to let (Lynda) do this, he broke into tears."

The Brudins weren't the only married couple to graduate from the local community college with an associate degree. Mia and Kyle Walker proved to their seven children that getting a degree is important, and that parents can walk their own talk.

"You know, you're always preaching to your kids to get a degree. Our goal was for us to get degrees before our (middle child) daughter graduated from high school," Mia said.

Their children proudly gathered around them after the graduation ceremony ended, videotaping and taking snapshots of their parents.

"We're setting the bar for them," Kyle said with a laugh.

More than 200 CTC students graduated Friday, with three countries – Korea, Antigua and Hong Kong, a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China – represented by international students, according to CTC President Dr. James Anderson.

"You leave this building prepared and with a greater responsibility to serve," Anderson told the students.

The commencement speaker was Dr. Kenneth J. Word, a mathematics chairman at CTC. He admonished the students to learn what will work best in their lives to reach success. He gave them a list of values that have propelled him to his current position.

"This is the list of things that work for me. But the rest of your life should be spent making your own list," he said.

Contact Hillary S. Meeks at or call (254) 501-7464

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