‘I have never seen anyone with so much determination.’

Mike and Catarina Craig
Mike and Catarina Craig

Catarina Craig will be crossing the stage Aug. 13 at The University of Texas at Arlington’s summer commencement, but she won’t be alone.

Craig, an accelerated online public health graduate, said she will feel the spirit of her husband, Mike, who died in April from a heart attack. The couple both worked for Karnes County EMS in South Texas, southeast of San Antonio.

“I know he will be with me,” said Catarina, who was married for three years. “He was more than my husband. He was my mentor. My husband’s goal, and mine, too, was to eventually earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. I’ll do that, too.”

But before she earns another degree, Catarina will celebrate her current one: a Bachelor of Science in public health. As an online student, Catarina will mark her first time at UT Arlington by graduating. She is one of about 2,500 students graduating this weekend at UTA’s two commencement celebrations.

The final course that Catarina needed to graduate was Kinesiology 4359, a cumulate experience course that provides students with the opportunity to serve in an internship or complete a service-learning project, a senior seminar, a portfolio project or a research paper. Students are encouraged to gain exposure from local-level public health professionals and/or agencies that engage in public health practice.

Catarina said she was expertly guided by Becky Garner, clinical associate professor in kinesiology and director of the Bachelor of Science in public health program. Garner helped her obtain an internship and research opportunity with the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.

“I have never seen anyone with so much determination. Catarina was just so resilient,” Garner said. “I encouraged her to take some additional time in finishing her degree, that we would support her learning journey in a manner that worked for her.

“However, she was determined to achieve the goal that she and her husband had set out and wanted to walk across the commencement stage in August. She set her mind to that goal and that is what she will be doing this Saturday.”

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