Faces of Spring 2023 Graduates
April 21, 2023
Meet 15 of the University of Northern Colorado's spring 2023 graduates who shared their story with us about their time at UNC, both challenging and exciting, what their plans are after commencement and advice they would give to future Bears.
Master’s in History
Master's in Accounting
Physical Education K-12
Saint Charles, Missouri
Elementary Education Teaching Licensure
Political Science and Communications
Pueblo West, Colorado
K-12 Physical Education
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Art Studio Emphasis Ceramics and Art Entrepreneurship
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
English and Philosophy
Hometown: Elizabeth, Colorado
Area of study: Behavioral Sciences, master’s in History
Reflection of your time at UNC:I loved my first experience at UNC so much that I came back for round two! The UNC History department was influential in drawing me back into the wonders of scholarship and academia in history. Shout out to Kelly Langley-Cook and Dr. Tomlin, and all the other members of the UNC history department!
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: While completing my graduate program at UNC, I also taught high school social studies full-time and coached middle school sports. I could not have stayed in teaching or completed my degree without the help of the amazing faculty who are my mentors and friends.
What's next for you: I will continue teaching full-time and coaching with perhaps a future in a doctoral program.
Advice for future or current Bears: Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it is only when we do so that we can grow as humans and scholars.
Hometown: Evans, Colorado
Area of study: Psychology, Sociology
Reflection of your time at UNC: I chose UNC because they offer extended learning classes, which is very helpful for untraditional students. I am in my 40s and have commitments outside of school. Being able to complete my coursework at unconventional times made obtaining a college degree obtainable for me.
I did not initially think I could be successful in college because of my age and other commitments. I am proof that anyone can become successful at UNC if they are willing to put in the work!
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: It is challenging to keep up with some commitments when you are an Extended Campus student. Sometimes, it is necessary to come to campus for various reasons. This proved to be tricky with my work schedule. I was lucky to find that there are so many alternative options available.
Describe your involvement during your time here: PSI CHI, NSLS, PHI THETA KAPPA, Dean's List, Stryker, Reisher, Upper Division Honors
What's next for you: I am enrolled to begin my master's program in clinical mental health at Adams State University in fall 2023.
Advice for future or current Bears: Stay organized, make education a priority, do your best on every assignment, make your future important enough to put in the work today!
Hometown: Haxtun, Colorado
Area of study: Monfort College of Business, master’s of Accounting
Reflection of your time at UNC: Throughout my time at UNC, I have been blessed with so many opportunities and experiences that have made my time here that much more memorable.
When deciding where I wanted to go to school, it was important to me that my classes were small enough to make connections, that there was ample opportunity for financial aid and that the program was highly esteemed. UNC has checked all of these boxes and so many more for me. I originally started and graduated from UNC with my bachelor’s degree, and because of the experience I had as an undergraduate student, UNC was my top choice for grad school. This university has offered me so many opportunities to grow and learn through organizations and even just the introduction of identities. I have had an amazing group of role models and mentors to be surrounded by as well. Being involved in campus organizations and student employment gave me a greater opportunity to connect to campus, learn professional and leadership skills and make so many valuable memories. It is also because of the support from my parents, sister, grandparents and significant other that I have continued to be successful during my experience at UNC. With the support of those I am closest to, I was able to push through many challenges and struggles thrown my way and continue to work hard to do well in my classes, work and personal life. I couldn’t be more grateful and thankful to my family, friends, supervisors, peers, mentors and professors for their help and support along my journey.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: My time at UNC hasn’t always been the easiest. From being a part of a cohort where our whole program was in the transition of fazing into an emphasis to the MBA, taking and coming so close but not passing CPA exams and having family hardships occur, the word perseverance has become increasingly important during my time here. Along with all of these challenges came so many successes and accomplishments. The challenges of my program restructuring greatly impacted and tested my ability to stay motivated and hopeful for the journey ahead of me. I was able to take the challenge on with an open mind and gained a set of knowledge that I wouldn’t have had in my original program. Not passing CPA exams is common for many in the public accounting industry, but it takes a lot of perseverance to continue to try time and time again. I have been reminded over and over of the dedication I have to have to continue on my journey and push through. While the complexity and difficulty of these exams has tested my strength and perseverance, it has made my want and my why for passing them that much more important. In addition to these challenges, I also had some personal hardships thrown my way which tested my dedication and efforts both towards my master's education and my CPA journey. While one of those journeys is not done yet, UNC has given me the tools I needed to overcome the challenges put in front of me and has equipped me with the strength to reach success on these exams and in my future career.
Describe your involvement during your time here: Student Senate, Beta Alpha Psi Accounting Honors Organization, National Anthem Volunteer (Club Hockey & UNC Athletics), President’s Leadership Program, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, National Society of Leadership and Success, Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honors Society
What's next for you: Following graduation, I will be continuing to study for my CPA exams with the hope of passing all four in the next year. I will also be starting full time as an Auditor for Plante Moran in their Fort Collins office in August.
Advice for future or current Bears: My advice to any future or current bears is to take in every opportunity they are given and explore a variety of experiences outside of their comfort zone. Your time at UNC will go by quickly, so make the most of everything that you can as you will have some have the most incredible experiences and memories to speak on once you leave.
Hometown: Craig, Colorado
Area of study: Sport and Exercise Science - Physical Education (K-12) Teaching, minor in Human Services
Reflection of your time at UNC: I loved that UNC was a smaller university. I was able to connect with more people and professors and easily get support.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: Through my program I was able to learn how to take care of my body the best and lost 100 pounds through exercise and running!
Describe your involvement during your time here: Bear Hug Club, Earth Guardians, PE Club and Barbell Club.
What's next for you: I plan on starting a new adventure in a new state either teaching PE or working at a Boys and Girls Club. I want to continue my passion for advocating and working with children. I also plan on pursuing a master's in human services!
Advice for future or current Bears: Make sure you make the most of your time here, but that you also practice self-care and putting you first!
Hometown: Brighton, Colorado
Area of study: Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice and Film Studies.
Reflection of your time at UNC: I chose UNC because I saw how inclusive it was with the LGBTQ community and how it was a “Goldilock” college. Not too big and not too small, but just perfect. I liked how it was small enough to get to know the students and professors.
My advisor Melissa Lea was very supportive during my time at UNC and helped with anything I needed.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: I was the mascot ‘Klawz’ for my first three years and I had a blast. I was able to attend all the sports events and much more! I was able to get close with fellow students and the staff. I also completed my internship with the UNC campus police department and got to meet many staff through them.
What's next for you: I am planning on continuing my passion for film with the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche teams at Ball Arena. I am also looking into different police departments to work with.
Advice for future or current Bears: I would tell future Bears to take opportunities to network with fellow bears, go to sports events and go experience a UNC hockey game!
Hometown: Saint Charles, Missouri
Area of study: Biology with a concentration in Pre-Health and Biomedical Sciences, minors in Chemistry and Psychology
Reflection of your time at UNC: I chose UNC because I always wanted to go to school in Colorado. Luckily for me, UNC was the perfect school, and I am so happy I became a Bear.
I have met some truly incredible people around UNC and have made life-long connections that I know I couldn’t find anywhere else. The professors, staff and faculty within the Biology department are amazing teachers who truly care about their students’ success and wellbeing both inside and outside the classroom. My fellow peers are determined and intelligent and made me want to work harder to be a better student and a better person. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some of the administrators on a more personal level and they have encouraged me and supported me on days when I felt like it was too much. I’ve had wonderful supervisors and coworkers at a variety of on-campus jobs, and they help brighten my days and provide a sense of community and belonging. There are too many people to name that have had an impact on me and helped me get to where I am today. I am so very grateful for my time at UNC and I’m so happy to be a forever Bear.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: UNC shut down my second semester freshman year due to COVID-19, and for the next year and a half, we had to quickly adapt to a whole new world. This was definitely a challenge for me as I tried to navigate creating relationships and excelling academically while behind a screen. I had some amazing mentors, friends and leaders who helped keep me going and push me through to where I am today. I have achieved a lot of success while here at UNC. I’ve held a variety of leadership positions, got involved in different clubs and organizations and maintained good academic standing. Overall, my biggest success is walking away from UNC feeling prepared and ready for the next steps, knowing I have a large support system behind me to cheer me on. The people that I’ve met and the resulting relationships I’ve formed are by far my biggest success.
Describe your involvement during your time here: Office of Health Promotion, Office of Admissions, Student Senate, Phi Sigma Pi, Biology Club, TriBeta, Upper Division Honors and undergraduate research.
What's next for you: After graduation, I will be attending the Colorado School of Public Health here at UNC! I will be getting my master’s degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Community Health Education.
Advice for future or current Bears: Everyone is on their own path and journey, and they all look different. Just because your place in life doesn’t look the same as someone else’s doesn’t mean that you’re not in the right spot for you.
Hometown: Maple Grove, Minnesota
Area of study: Master's of Sport and Exercise Science: Social Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity
Reflection of your time at UNC: I chose UNC because I wanted a program that could enhance my knowledge as a swim coach.
The emphasis on the Social Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity has helped expand my education on motivation and provided me with the resources to better my athletes' lives. More so, I wanted to coach alongside a program with a female head coach. Division I collegiate swimming is consistently underrepresented with female head coaches, with only 20% of head coaches identified as women (Boucher et al., 2021). UNC fulfilled all my wishes, a great program academically and a fantastic athletic system that supports swimming.
Describe your involvement during your time here: Volunteer Swim and Dive coach
What's next for you: A celebration trip to Iceland, Sweden, Denmark and Kenya! After that, coaching swim camps at UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State. Following that, I plan to land a Division I Swim Coach position.
Advice for future or current Bears: Do it all. Don't be afraid to look silly. Be selfish in this time of exploration.
Hometown: Haxtun, Colorado
Area of study: Elementary Education Teaching Licensure, Endorsement in Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
Reflection of your time at UNC: I chose to attend UNC because of the amazing reputation the teaching program has. I have always wanted to be a teacher, and I knew that I would get the education I needed in order to achieve this goal at UNC.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: Obtaining my undergraduate degree in the midst of a pandemic was not easy! Just as I had adjusted to college life, we were sent home for the remainder of my freshman year. Sophomore year consisted of online classes, and junior year began to look like "normal life" again. During my four years at UNC, I joined Alpha Phi, a sorority on campus. I quickly became very involved and gained so many experiences and connections throughout my four years. I was elected chapter president during my junior and senior year. It was an amazing experience that taught me so many lessons and skills that I will use for the rest of my life.
Describe your involvement during your time here: Alpha Phi, the Honors Program, Bear Hug Club and intramural sports.
What's next for you: After graduation, I will be moving back to northeastern Colorado. I will be teaching 4th Grade at Akron Elementary School in Akron, CO.
Advice for future or current Bears: Get involved! There are so many amazing opportunities waiting for you!
Hometown: Berthoud, Colorado
Area of study: Political Science and Communications with a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language
Reflection of your time at UNC: I chose UNC to stay close to my family. I am always a short drive away, which allowed me to have a strong support system during my college experience.
As I have grown here, I have been able to develop a strong sense of independence without forgetting where I came from.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: My time at UNC has been full of challenges. As someone who was insistent on pursuing two majors while graduating in four years, COVID-19 threw a curveball no one expected. The greatest weapon is time management and honesty. I had to be honest with myself and recognize my own strengths and weaknesses during times of uncertainty; recognizing you can't do everything all the time is a big college lesson. I have been lucky to find professors and peers who have been wonderful support systems as I have pushed through my studies at UNC. My greatest success will be on May 6, when I walk for my degrees that I achieved in the four years I allotted myself. I could not have done it alone; the first step is trusting others to help in your future!
Describe your involvement during your time here: President of Phi Sigma Pi Honor Fraternity.
What's next for you: I am planning on moving to Beijing, China, this fall to attend Tsinghua University to pursue my master's in Chinese Politics, Foreign Policy and International Relations!
Advice for future or current Bears: You are never alone. It might feel like you are on a one-person rollercoaster of stress and work, but it is important to recognize the community you have around you. Relying on other people doesn't equal weakness or failure; often, it shows how you're able to collaborate toward a common goal. Everyone comes to UNC with the goal of getting educated and graduating. Look around; someone is in your exact boat. Once you open up to people and help, this journey becomes a lot more enjoyable.
Hometown: Craig, Colorado
Area of study: Elementary Education Teaching Licensure, Endorsement in Cultural and Linguistic Diversity with minors in Special Education, History and Human Services
Reflection of your time at UNC: I toured UNC on a whim without knowing much about the school. The moment I toured I knew this was the school for me. If I had to go back in time, I wouldn’t change my decision to come here for anything.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: I had to figure out what I truly wanted to do with my life very fast the first semester of my senior year since student teaching wasn’t an option anymore for my final semester. I was able to overcome this because of the support I had through UNC.
Describe your involvement during your time here: Senate, Earth Guardians, Bear Hug Club, Barbell Club, CHE, Stryker Institute for Leadership Development and Honors Program.
What's next for you: I plan to teach for a year in an elementary classroom and then move into human services/public health. I also want to get a master’s in one of those areas!
Advice for future or current Bears: Don’t forget to safely step out of your comfort zones and take risks. Now is the time to be spontaneous and just go for it!
Hometown: Pueblo West, Colorado
Area of study: Communication Studies major, Earth Science minor
Reflection time at UNC: I chose to come to UNC after getting accepted to 13 universities across the nation. UNC felt like home to me, but I wanted to be able to learn and grow away from my family.
Since coming to UNC, I have been heavily supported by the professors in the Communication Department and by the department chair of the Communication and Journalism Department, James Keaten. Keaten agreed to be my advisor to help me navigate graduating early. Having the support from an entire department made my journey at UNC worthwhile! The Earth Science department came into my life, and I have had nothing but encouragement from them!
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: I came to UNC with 33% of my credits completed after taking college courses in high school. I took on a full schedule my first year and even took summer classes. I decided in the fall of my second year that I wanted to graduate by the summer. This seemed impossible seeing as I had 41 credits to complete. Through the help and support of my advisors and my professors, I took six classes this spring and will take another seven in the first eight weeks of summer to earn my degree. It has been very challenging but ask anyone who knows me, I can achieve whatever I put my mind to. By the end of summer, I will have my bachelor’s degree at the age of 20.
Describe your involvement during your time here: Lambda Pi Eta Communication Honor Society.
What's next for you: After graduation, I hope to be a communication specialist at a company near and dear to my heart! I already have worked at an animal shelter and currently work in University Advancement at UNC. I want to help people in this crazy world and believe I will. I also want to keep volunteering; I volunteer at a local farm here in Greeley helping children with mental and physical conditions and want to continue that. Overall, I want to be a helping hand in my community and better their lives!
Advice for future or current Bears: No matter what, you can do it! You don’t have to run to the finish line but don’t stop!
Hometown: Thornton, Colorado
Area of study: Sport and Exercise Science - Physical Education (K-12) Teaching with a minor in Special Education
Reflection of your time at UNC: As a first-generation college student, I always knew I wanted to go to college and become a teacher.
In high school, I had an amazing PE teacher who supported me and made me realize I wanted to become a PE teacher and go to UNC. While being here, my amazing PE professors/doctoral students have supported me and believed in me since day one. I have been able to work alongside them in the UNC Active Schools Institute. They always supported my ideas and endeavors.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: Some challenges have been as a first-generation student; it was hard to navigate what to do and what to expect since I had no one in my family who went through this experience. While at UNC, I have been able to serve as a SHAPE Colorado student representative, win awards such as the SHAPE Colorado Emerging Leader of the Year in 2022 and win the national award, SHAPE America Major of the Year in 2023. On top of this, I have been an undergraduate student researcher at the UNC Active Schools Institute and was recognized at the CEBS Honors Convocation in 2023 for my academic achievements. Although I am first gen, I have been able to push past the barriers and exceed my own expectations in college.
Describe your involvement during your time here: UNC PE Club president, undergraduate student researcher Active Schools Institute, UNC Campus Rec Group Fitness student program assistant, UNC Unified Club, University 101 class leader and UNC Ropes Course facilitator.
What's next for you: After I graduate, I will be the graduate assistant for Fitness and Wellness at the UNC Rec Center while getting my master’s in Physical Education and Physical Activity Leadership. I will also continue working the the Active Schools Lab.
Advice for future or current Bears: Find your support, UNC is full of amazing faculty/staff that truly care about you and your success.
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Area of study: Art Studio Emphasis Ceramics and Art Entrepreneurship
Reflection of your time at UNC: I attended to Community College of Aurora and my fiancé attended UNC in 2019. He told me about UNC and I never heard about it. I decided to attend UNC because they do have disability resources that I liked. It help me through so much through semesters.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: Being full-time students and taking six classes is very challenging to do. I would say time management and good thing that UNC provided so many resources like study tables, writing center and everything to help succeed.
What's next for you: I’m planning to be freelancer and promote my ceramic business. I would like to spread deaf community to involve ceramic and gain deaf artists. #Spreaddeafawareness
Advice for future or current Bears: It is OK to fail and keep going until you achieve it!
Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado. Originally from Saudi Arabia.
Area of study: Sociology
Reflection of your time at UNC: I wanted to do my master’s in Sociology at UNC because the Sociology program seemed interesting, and I can apply it into so many areas of life.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: I had six surgeries from 2020-2023. I went through so many challenges and ups and downs. I have come to the other side with a master's degree, but most importantly, I was able to learn so many great things about life, society and myself. I did Engineering as an undergrad, and to make that switch was extremely difficult. I am proud of myself for doing it successfully. I loved every aspect of my learning journey, and I am happy I did it.
Describe your involvement during your time here: I interned at the Office of Global Engagement at UNC. I am writing my MA report to help them foster a sense of belonging for international students.
What's next for you: I am going back home to use my skills in the professional world and apply my knowledge.
Advice for future or current Bears: Some things will be hard, do it anyways. You will never regret challenging yourself.
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Area of study: English and Philosophy
Reflection of your time at UNC: Two people have gone above and beyond to help me grow as a person and as a student. Dr. Brown and Dr. Peterson in the Philosophy Department are extremely passionate about philosophy and about helping their students. I don’t think I could have gotten this far without them. They are especially good at engaging with students, critical thinking and individual guidance.
Overcoming challenges and achieving success: I dropped out of the McNair program because the research was too demanding. The project I wanted to complete was too big for me to manage. I don’t think of this as a failure because for three semesters after I dropped out, I got straight As. Knowing my limits is a skill I could never gain if I succeeded in the program.
Describe your involvement during your time here: Ethics Bowl.
What's next for you: I want to take a year off before getting a master's in Applied Ethics abroad. I see an absence of ethics in numerous fields. I am very concerned about this observation, and I hope I can change this about the world. I’m saving for the tuition and travel expenses.
Advice for future or current Bears: Your roommate(s) will have more of an effect on your success than anything else. Don’t waste your time on people that hold you back. Don’t make bad choices that are lifelong just because it’s the norm, it’s what your friends do or because you are in an extreme emotional state of happiness or sadness.