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Spring 2023 Commencement Showcases Increasing Diversity Among UNC Graduates

Two Latina women taking a self portrait at graduation

April 28, 2023

The University of Northern Colorado hosted its spring commencement ceremonies May 5-6, inside the Bank of Colorado Arena. This year’s spring class included approximately 1,272 undergraduate and graduate students. An additional 342 students are expected to complete their degree requirements this summer and were eligible to participate in the spring ceremonies. 

The Graduate School hosted its spring ceremony on Friday, May 5, at 6 p.m., for approximately 381 students who received a master's, specialist or doctoral degree.

The university hosted three separate undergraduate ceremonies on Saturday, May 6, at 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., recognizing approximately 891 students who received their bachelor’s degree. 

The ceremonies were offered via livestream on UNC’s website and social media platforms for family and friends watching from home. The university also offered viewing spaces on campus if the arena capacity was exceeded or if people wanted a less crowded viewing space. More information about commencement tickets, parking locations and a campus map are available on UNC’s commencement website.  

See highlights about our spring 2023 graduates, student speakers and ceremony below. Read about some of our featured graduates in our Spring Faces and graduating student feature stories.

About the class of 2023: 

  • Our spring undergraduate class represents UNC’s increasing diversity as almost a quarter of our spring graduates (24.4%) identify as Hispanic/Latinx. This is the highest percentage of Hispanic/Latinx students graduating in a spring ceremony in the past 10 years, up from 11.5% in spring 2013. 
  • Our spring 2023 class included 371 undergraduate students (41.6% ) who are the first in their families to earn a college degree.  
  • Our spring class included 53 United States veterans; 34 undergraduate students and 19 graduate students. 
  • Graduates came from 18 countries, 47 states and represented 46 Colorado counties. 
  • Our youngest graduate this spring was 19 years old and our oldest was 68. 
  • The College of Natural and Health Sciences graduated the largest number of undergraduate students (249), followed by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (225), College of Education and Behavioral Sciences (220), Monfort College of Business (133) and College of Performing and Visual Arts (114). 
  • The College of Education and Behavioral Sciences graduated the largest number of graduate students (174), followed by College of Natural and Health Sciences (123), Monfort College of Business (50), College of Performing and Visual Arts (24) and College of Humanities and Social Sciences (13). 
  • Our Business Administration major was the most popular major among spring graduates (129), followed by Psychology (114) and Elementary Education (67). 
  • Our Business Administration (49) and Special Education programs (49) were the largest graduate degree programs, followed by Educational Leadership (28) and Sport and Exercise Science (26). 
  • UNC awarded the highest number of undergraduate degrees in the past five years in these areas: Finance (36) and Psychology (114), and the number of graduate degrees awarded in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology (11), Business Administration (49), Psychology (6) and School Psychology (26).
  • With this graduating class, UNC now has more than 132,500 alumni living and working in all 50 states plus Washington D.C., and more than 90 countries.

Data about UNC’s spring 2023 class is preliminary and based on demographics of students who have applied to graduate as of April 19, 2023. Degrees are officially conferred June 2023. 

Graduate Ceremony Details 

The Graduate School awarded approximately 408 master’s, 53 specialist and 78 doctoral degrees on Friday, May 5, 6 p.m. inside the Bank of Colorado Arena.  

Student Speaker

Misha Lee, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
Master of Arts, Special Education: Generalist, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences 

Hailing from Elbert, Colorado, Misha is mother to a 5-year-old daughter. While obtaining her master’s degree, Misha taught special education classes in the Douglas County School District. After graduation, she plans to continue her career in special education, focusing on middle-school-aged children with significant support needs. Misha’s primary goal is to further develop and refine her skills as she expands her practical knowledge and gains expertise in the field.  

Undergraduate Ceremony Details 

UNC’s undergraduate ceremonies will take place on Saturday, May 6, inside the Bank of Colorado Arena, at the following times: 

  • 9 a.m. - College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and the College of Performing and Visual Arts 
  • 12:30 p.m. - College of Natural and Health Sciences 
  • 3:30 p.m. - College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Monfort College of Business 

Colleges of Education and Behavioral Sciences and Performing and Visual Arts

Student Speakers

Aliceson Jones, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences 
Bachelor of Arts, Elementary Education: Liberal Arts, Cultural and Linguistic Diversity 

A first-generation college student, Jones graduated from Moffatt County High School in Craig, Colorado, before attending UNC. An honors student and senator for the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Jones is also affiliated with the Stryker Institute for Leadership Development and the Center for Human Enrichment. In fall 2022, she was initiated into the Hi-Bridge Society, appearing alongside senior class delegates at UNC events. She will relocate after graduation, along with her fiancée, Bryson, and puppy, to Lynn, Massachusetts, where she has accepted a position at the KIPP Lynn Charter School.

Odaliz Meraz, College of Performing and Visual Arts 
Bachelor of Arts, Theatre Arts 

Meraz is a first-generation American and a first-generation college student, earning a place on the Dean’s List. A graduate of Greeley Central High School, she has called Greeley home for more than 10 years. In her spare time, Meraz enjoys baking, painting and serving as a substitute teacher for Greeley-Evans District 6. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in stage management. With that real world experience, Meraz plans to obtain a graduate degree and teach stage management at the college level. 

College of Natural and Health Sciences

Student Speaker

Makenzie Kumor, College of Natural and Health Sciences 
Bachelor of Science, Chemistry: Secondary Teaching  

Born in West Valley City, Utah, Makenzie grew up in Parker, Colorado, the daughter of Jared and Emily Kumor. One of three sisters, including Kailey and Allyson, she graduated from Legend High School in 2019. During her years at UNC, Makenzie performed as a member of the Sugar Bears Dance Team and appeared multiple times on the Dean’s List, and welcomed a son named Kyler. After graduation, Makenzie plans to teach high school science in northern Colorado. 

College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Monfort College of Business

Student Speakers

Elise Shoemaker, College of Humanities and Social Sciences 
Bachelor of Arts,, Journalism: Strategic Communications 

Known to her friends as Eli, Shoemaker is a transplant from Texas. She credits striking out on her own with increased independence and the acquisition of a beloved group of friends made through the Rec Center and the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. From a young age, Shoemaker knew that she wanted to use her twin passions for nature and storytelling to pursue a career in journalism. In her free time, she is equally at home on the UNC esports team as she is hiking in the mountains. 

Shelby Schigner, Monfort College of Business 
Bachelor of Science, Business Administration: Marketing 

Originally from Florida, Schigner is a first-generation, nontraditional college student residing in Northglenn, Colorado. She interns for a marketing agency based in Denver and hopes to pursue full-time employment there as an account manager following graduation. When she is not studying or working, Schigner enjoys video games, games of strategy, rock climbing and yoga. She and her husband have two dogs and enjoy spending time with family.