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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Winter commencement honors undergrads, grads

Kyle Mittan

Michael Bullock, a recent UA graduate who studied public health, poses for a picture with family following Saturday’s Winter Commencement ceremony.

Thousands of students became alumni on Saturday morning during the UA’s Winter Commencement in McKale Center.

The ceremony began with the UA’s Wind Ensemble playing the customary processional set to music.

Fred DuVal, board chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, greeted the graduates and their families.

“Higher education is the most a country has to offer,” he said. “Live a life of service and with conscience.”

DuVal said that students should listen to their hearts, not their wallets.

“Bring (the skills learned at the UA) to a fractured world that so badly needs them.”

Tony Tran, who graduated from the College of Medicine with a bachelor’s degree in physiology, said, “I’m the first in my family to graduate from college. Words can’t really describe the feeling.”

During the ceremony, Jacqueline Mok, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, presented awards to faculty and students.

Carol Bender, director of the Undergraduate Biology Research Program and Edward Reid, assistant director of the UA School of Music, received Distinguished Outreach Faculty Awards. The award aims to recognize faculty whose scholarship-based outreach to the state and world has demonstrated sustained excellence in the UA’s outreach mission.

The Alumni Achievement award was jointly awarded to William and Brenda Viner, in recognition of their work to promote the UA and literacy programs in Tucson. The couple helped found the Tucson Festival of Books and assisted in fundraising for the Student Union Memorial Center.

Dylan Moriarty, a graduate who studied civil engineering, received a Centennial Achievement Undergraduate Award. His dream is to develop clean energy solutions on tribal lands. Ella Starobinska, a refugee from Ukraine, also received this award. Starobinska, an honors college student who studied physiology and Russian, hopes to pursue a career in medicine.

The Centennial Achievement Graduate Student Awards were presented to Denise Garcia, who is pursuing a Master’s in Ecology and Management of Rangelands; Shannon Corkery, a family studies and human development doctoral candidate; Ashley Randall, a family studies and human development doctoral candidate and Aja Martinez, a doctoral candidate studying rhetoric, composition and the teaching of English.

Lacey Nymeyer John, a former member of the UA swimming and diving team and 2008 Olympic silver medalist, delivered the commencement address. John, reflecting on her lessons learned as a Wildcat, explained the importance of humility, hard work, perseverance and striving for personal excellence.

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” John said. She told the graduates to “prove wrong” those who call them the “lost generation.”

Following the commencement speech, 2,663 baccalaureate degrees, 810 master’s degrees and 348 doctoral degrees were conferred by UA President Eugene Sander.

Nicole Kahal, a graduate who received her a bachelor’s in environmental and water resource economics, said, “Now, it’s about finding out what to do next.”

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