UA Hosts Winter Commencement on Dec. 15

The University-wide commencement ceremony will start at 9 a.m. in McKale Memorial Center on Dec. 15.
Dec. 11, 2012

The University of Arizona will hold its winter commencement ceremony on Dec. 15 at 9 a.m. in McKale Memorial Center.

A total of 1,709 undergraduate student degrees, 594 master’s degrees and 150 doctoral degrees will be conferred, plus one Master of Laws (International Trade and Business Law) degree and two Juris Doctor degrees.

UA President Ann Weaver Hart will preside over the University-wide commencement. Robert A. Eckert, chairman of the board of the toy company Mattel, Inc., is the winter commencement speaker and will be awarded an honorary degree.

The following awards will be presented during the ceremony:

The Alumni Achievement Award will go to Heather Henricks Lenkin, who earned a UA Bachelor of Science degree in interior design and a Bachelor of Architecture degree with honors in 1976 and 1979. 

Lenkin is founder and president of Lenkin Design, a 23-year-old firm specializing in architectural landscape design and consultation. Her work has been featured extensively on television and in books and magazines. Gardens she designed have been named among the Top Great Gardens in the U.S. and the Ten Most Romantic Gardens in the U.S. Lenkin maintains close ties with the UA as an educator, mentor and dedicated supporter.

University Distinguished Faculty Outreach Awards will be awarded to Todd Fletcher, associate professor in the department of disability and psychoeducational studies in the UA College of Education, and Sally Stevens, executive director of the UA’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women.

Fletcher coordinates the UA’s specialty program in bilingual and multicultural education, one of few such programs in the nation. He also served for 25 years as director of Verano en Mexico, the longest-running summer study abroad program at the UA. His research focuses on culturally responsive educational practices for diverse learners, special education policy and inclusive education practices in Latin America.

He created an educational community center, Resplandor International, in a converted home in Cajones in Central Mexico in an effort to engage the community, improve the school experience for students there, particularly those with disabilities, while also providing essential training opportunities for teachers and researchers from the UA and universities around the U.S.

Stevens has for 27 years been a prominent community outreach leader, well known and highly respected for her passion for the advancement of women, adolescents and underrepresented groups.

She has conducted large-scale intervention research in the areas of health disparities, substance abuse, mental health, HIV and other infectious diseases, and innovations in education. Much of her work has focused on individuals of Mexican-origin Hispanic descent and Native Americans living in southwest United States and the examination of cultural and gender issues in relationship to health, education and experiences of inequality.

Finally, six students will receive Centennial Awards, presented to undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students who will graduate within the academic year and who have demonstrated integrity, overcome enormous challenges to achieve a college education and made a contribution to self, community and family. The honorees are:

  • A native of Moscow, Aleksey Chernobelskiy immigrated to Tucson with no English skills in 2000 and graduated with a 3.95 cumulative GPA and double honors in August. He completed a rare quadruple major in finance, mathematics, business economics and accounting. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. He plans to pursue a doctorate.
  • Gresa Sylejmani will graduate with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology and minors in chemistry, Turkish and Spanish. Sylejmani and her family immigrated to the United States as war refugees from Kosovo when she was 8 years old. She is interested in the study of infectious diseases and their effect on public health. She hopes to attend medical school and become a physician.
  • Emily Hamblin is a candidate for a Master of Arts in Spanish and plans to graduate May 2013. Born the youngest of five children in a family that struggled financially, Hamlin became the first member of her family to receive a bachelor’s degree in 2007.
  • Whitney Mohr, who will graduate in May with a Masters of Art in higher education, was drawn to the UA as a freshman by the Pride of Arizona Marching Band. She credits her experience as a band member for her passion for school spirit. A founding member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority, Mohr was a two-time recipient of the Phoenix Panhellenic Scholarship and the UA Panhellenic Scholarship for leadership.
  • Casey Kahn-Thornbrugh will graduate with a doctorate in geography and a minor in American Indian studies in May. A Mashpee Wampanoag tribal member, he has been an active member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. He’s also worked as an adjunct geography instructor at the Tohono O’odham Community College. His goal is to continue working with Native communities to develop geography and environmental science curricula reflective of tribal and community values and culture.
  • A first-generation college student, Jenna Vinson will graduate in May with a doctorate in rhetoric, composition and the teaching of English, with a minor in gender and women’s studies. Her dissertation focuses on the implications of the negative rhetoric about teenage pregnancy and the strategies young mothers use to resist pathologizing discourses. Her dissertation is informed by academic research as well as her life experiences as a 17-year-old single mother.

Commencement parking is available at all University surface lots and garages. Parking adjacent to McKale Center is restricted for disabled parking only.

To avoid congestion, visitors are advised to park in areas north of the UA Mall or south of Sixth Street. The Second Street Garage and the Sixth Street Garage are both in close proximity to McKale.

UA shuttle service will be provided from 6:30-11:30 a.m. from designated stops. Shuttle stops and additional parking details can be found on this map.

In addition to the University-wide commencement, individual UA colleges hold their own convocation ceremonies. More information on commencement and individual college convocations can be found on the commencement website.