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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

Faces of 2021 Fall Graduates: Together Again

fall 2021 graduating students

November 23, 2021

After the numerous challenges brought on by COVID-19, students were able to enjoy a sense of normalcy this past fall as on-campus students returned for in-person classes and the university restored activities and events that were canceled during the 2020-21 academic year due to the pandemic. Meet nine of the more than 840 undergraduate and graduate students who persevered through the challenges and are graduating on Friday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 11. 


Briauna McFadden

Briauna McFadden

HometownHaxtun, CO

Area of StudyBusiness Administration: Accounting with minors in Global Business and Leadership Studies

Reflection on time at UNCThroughout my time at UNC, I was blessed with many opportunities and experiences. Coming from a town of around 900 people, I loved how small this campus was and how much it felt like a community. I am thankful for the many mentors and role models I have been surrounded with. UNC has given me so many opportunities to grow as a leader and professional through my many roles across campus. Being involved in campus organizations and student employment gave me the opportunity to be connected with the campus and also gain some of the most valuable memories. UNC has helped me grow into the person I am today, and I couldn’t be more thankful to my friends, family, peers, supervisors, professors and mentors for being a part of this journey.

Overcoming barriersDuring my time at UNC, there were many barriers to overcome. I think that the biggest one for me, however, was staying motivated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic many individuals that I knew and that my family was close to had lost their lives. This pandemic impacted all of us in many ways and truly tested staying motivated throughout the school year. Academically we all had our hardships and had to push through them, however, it brought us to where we are today.

Future plansFollowing graduation, I will be continuing my education in UNC’s Master of Accounting program. During this time, I will be interning with Plante Moran and I eventually hope to work in international tax accounting.

Advice you'd give to current and/or future students:  My advice to future bears is to take every opportunity they are given and explore who they want to become. Your time at UNC will be some of the most memorable moments in your life, so be sure to enjoy them as much as you can.


Linda and Sofia

Linda and Sofia Quintanilla

HometownLoveland, CO

Areas of StudyNursing

Reflection on time at UNCAt UNC we were enrolled in the nursing program. Throughout college we had nursing clinicals at Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies, which allowed us to grow in our nursing knowledge and skills. We were also enrolled in Air Force ROTC. UNC's ROTC program is through CSU's Detachment 90. Due to this, we were able to make friends at both colleges, participate in football pushup crews and participate in community service with our fellow Bear cadets.

Future plansBeing twins we were able to go through college by each other's sides. We stayed up late studying together, we cheered on the Bears together and we will graduate together. After graduation, we are fortunate to both commission into the United States Air Force as MedSurg nurses.

Advice you'd give to current and/or future students:  Enjoy the college experience because for us, the past four years have flown by. College is a stressful time, focusing on classes and grades, but enjoy the fun activities that UNC has to offer. Go Bears!


Michael Costello

Michael Costello

HometownLittleton, CO

Area of StudyEconomics and Business Administration, Finance emphasis

Reflection on time at UNCPrior to UNC, there was the uncertainty of whether college was for me. Those doubts were erased with my acceptance to UNC. The University of Northern Colorado gave me the tools to be a leader, ranging from opportunities in Greek Life to Student Senate. I matured and learned what it meant to lead and serve, inside the classroom and through extracurricular activities. As I prepare to enter graduate school next semester at Mines, I carry with me the opportunities and experiences I earned as an undergraduate student at UNC.

Overcoming barriersBefore UNC, I struggled academically and graduated high school with a subpar GPA. As it stands currently, I am prepared to graduate with a 3.72 GPA and with cum laude Latin honors.

Future plansI will be attending the Colorado School of Mines to study for my master of science degree in Mineral and Energy Economics.

Advice you'd give to current and/or future students:  Dream big and take actionable steps now to achieve those dreams. Never be afraid to advocate for yourself.


Sadie Rawson

Sadie Rawson

Hometown:  Lone Tree, CO

Area of StudyPsychology, with a minor in Sociology

Reflection on time at UNCI have loved being a part of UNC over the last three and a half years while pursuing my education and having the opportunity to engage with and appreciate so much diversity, as well as meeting so many new wonderful people.

Overcoming barriersCOVID-19 is the most obvious barrier that everyone can relate to; online classes were very difficult and something I had to persevere through. I also lost a few family members and witnessed my cabin burn down during my junior year.

Future plansI plan to pursue a career in education where I get to work with children.

Advice you'd give to current and/or future studentsFind what motivates you and find a good balance between working hard and appreciating your time here as it is.


Kerby Meyers

Kerby Meyers

Hometown:  Denver, CO

Area of Study:  Master of Business Administration

Reflection on time at UNC: Online program through which I met many professional-minded students from around Colorado and beyond.

Overcoming barriers:  Outside of maintaining my business and helping my family get through the pandemic, none really. I'm a lucky guy.

Future plans:  I enrolled in this MBA program so I could teach at the collegiate level. I'm thrilled to note that I was able to start teaching an entrepreneurship class at Metro State University in Denver this semester (as an MBA candidate).

Advice you'd give to current and/or future students:  You will learn as much from your classmates as any textbook — be sure to make the most of your opportunities to learn collaboratively.


Emmy Scott

Emmy Scott

Hometown:  Phoenix, AZ

Area of StudyBusiness Management and Environmental and Sustainability Studies, with a minor in Communication Studies

Reflection on time at UNCI've had the honor to serve as president and grant coordinator of Student LEAF, president of Earth Guardians and a Monfort College of Business student senator. I've had amazing mentors prepare me for my new career. The community at UNC is so caring and I've made lifelong friends. I've had a great experience at UNC, my home away from home!

Overcoming barriersI was diagnosed with bipolar syndrome and anxiety, which has made it difficult to always perform my best.

Future plans:  I just got hired as an operations and financial director for a nonprofit international organization called Earth Guardians Inc. I will go full-time after graduation.

Advice you'd give to current and/or future studentsGet involved! Join a club or two, do a few competitions, attend some events and I promise you will find your way at UNC; you will find a home.


Adam Rush

Adam Rush

Hometown:  Longmont, CO — by way of Chicago, Oklahoma, Texas and California

Area of Study:  Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Healthcare 

Reflection on time at UNC:  I was initially anxious to get back to academia after being out of school for 15 years. Quickly, I fell back into the pattern and remembered how much I enjoy learning. I went back to school to understand how to interact with the business world that was shaping my medical profession and gained more than just concepts and figures. I've really enjoyed getting back into school. The staff was approachable and able to thoroughly clarify the concepts they taught. The student interactions were positive and supported the education. UNC was a great choice for me.

Overcoming barriers:  As a full-time emergency physician it wasn't particularly timely to enter into a master's degree program months before a global pandemic. I did have to take a couple of breaks in my courses when my hospital duties became too involved to allow extra studies. In fact, it was the first time in my life I've had to drop a class after I had started the curriculum. The program was supportive and reentry was simple so I had no trouble resuming study.

Future plans:  That's actually a good question. I am currently an emergency physician and the physician medical director for a large fire department of EMT's and paramedics. Also, I am the current medical staff president at my hospital. My medical staff president duties have me interfacing with the Board of Directors, chief medical officer (CMO) and chief executive officer at my hospital. I could see myself getting into a more executive role as CMO, or perhaps a state-level EMS position. Regardless, I'm considering paring down jobs. Who knows, someday I may even have only one job.

Advice you'd give to current and/or future studentsThe UNC system is good, and you will get more out of it if you put more of yourself into it. The books and concepts are all there, but the real value will come from the collective experiences, abilities and excellence of you, the students.


Claire Hamilton

Claire Hamilton

Hometown:  Broomfield, CO

Area of Study:  Biological Sciences Pre-health emphasis, minor in Chemistry Liberal Arts

Reflection on time at UNC:  Like my fellow graduates, my college experience has not been what I anticipated. I joined UNC as a transfer student from a community college, so I got one normal semester before everything changed. Despite COVID-19, I'm thankful for the experiences I've gained trying to work through my courses online and extremely thankful for this final semester back on campus. The relationships I've made with peers and instructors are invaluable, and I'm so thankful to have chosen UNC to complete my undergraduate degree.

Overcoming barriersWhen I was 5, I was diagnosed with childhood leukemia. I relapsed shortly after I turned 7 and then underwent a bone marrow transplant. As a result, my childhood was not totally normal and I spent a lot of time in the hospital. Getting sick changed my life, but it also gave me direction. I've always known that I want to go into medicine, so that's what I pursued when I began college. Being a childhood cancer survivor presents a unique set of struggles for many students, which I thankfully have largely avoided. I have to wear glasses in most classes, but I generally lead a normal life. Coming in as a transfer student also presented struggles for me. I didn't have the immediate study group or know any of the professors, and I was unfamiliar with the campus. Thankfully, I was able to make friends who helped me navigate classes, study and form relationships with my instructors. I am thankful to my family, friends and the UNC community for helping me through this journey.

Future plans:  After graduation, I am going to take some time to work and gain more experience in the medical field. In a year or two, I hope to apply for medical school or for physicians assistant school.

Advice you'd give to current and/or future students:  Take advantage of every opportunity you can as a student, because it won't be for long and you won't have this experience again. Keep track of your classes but don't go crazy when things don't always go your way. College is designed to be difficult, so you may not always get the score you wanted or were hoping for, but moving on and moving forward is typically the best, and only, thing that you can do.


Kent Trompeter

Kent Trompeter

Hometown:  Clearwater, FL

Area of Study:  History, Secondary Teaching 

Reflection on time at UNC:  My time at UNC has been one of revelation. I have experienced great professors and a great advisor. My fellow students are very supportive of me and my studies. A fantastic experience.

Overcoming barriers: The only barrier is that I am substantially older than my professors and my life experiences usually exceed what is found in books. I believe in some instances the professors have learned from me.

Future plans:  I plan on teaching high school social studies.

Advice you'd give to current and/or future students:  Don't take 20 credit hours in one semester.


Caterina Azzarello

Caterina Azzarello

Hometown:  Manakaoan, NJ

Area of Study:  Master of Arts in Educational Psychology 

Reflection on time at UNC:  My time at UNC has been filled with amazing moments and moments of resilience. Throughout my master's, I wasn’t only dealing with the adversity from COVID-19, I was facing two parents with cancer and a world that needs help.

Overcoming barriers:  As I mentioned, my family has been facing adversity my whole life and academia has been my safe haven. Throughout my time in Colorado I have dealt with homelessness, hunger insecurity and more but continued on with my education. Adversity has only propelled me deeper into my studies.

Future plans:  I plan to pursue a Ph.D. at UNC in educational psychology!

Advice you'd give to current and/or future students:  Keep your head up! Lean on your peers and teachers for support because they are just as stressed as you! You are not alone!


Buday Falkinburg

Buday Falkinburg

HometownRoanoke, VA

Area of StudySociology, concentration in Family Studies

Reflection on time at UNCHard, but really rewarding! I was laid off due to COVID-19 in 2020 so I decided to transfer to UNC because I had just moved to Greeley a month prior. Every class that I have taken in the past year and a half has been virtual, which has been a huge learning curve. All my professors have been so amazing and supportive, especially in the event of my dad's death last January due to COVID-19. I am a nontraditional first-generation Asian American college student, who just turned 49 years old. I am so proud of myself that I finally did it! Thank you so much, UNC!

Overcoming barriersThe main barriers I have dealt with are poverty due to an exploitative divorce five years ago. Last year, I had a COVID-19 related layoff and became a health coach and had two UNC internships. This year, I had two deaths in my family and I started taking care of my Thai mom full-time, who is a widow.

Future plansI am ready to contribute to society even more. I look forward to being professionally rewarded for having a bachelor's degree now. People and their health matter a lot to me so I want to continue to help people in this area. I love to learn, grow and do research! My dream job, other than being a health coach like I am right now, is to be a research analyst, too.

Advice you'd give to current and/or future studentsYes, so many suggestions for you to succeed in life, school and relationships! First, suit up and show up. Participate fully in school and don't be afraid to interact with your professors and advisors. They are on your side and care about your academic success. Learn about yourself and care about others. Ask for help and offer to help others. People matter! COVID-19 has isolated us and we need to remain connected, compassionate and giving.


Arrionna Farricker

Arrionna Farricker-Arone

HometownFort Collins, CO

Area of StudyArt History with a minor in History

Reflection on time at UNCBeing a Bear has meant the world to me. It has made me feel like I have been a part of a collaborative family that will always be as I turn from a student into an alumni at UNC. UNC has brought me joy as a first-generation transfer student as the people here have always been so kind and welcoming. I truly feel as though I have been able to meet new people and have had the room to learn more about myself and my passions by attending UNC. That is something I will always be grateful for. Once a Bear, always a Bear!

Overcoming barriersIt was hard at the beginning as a transfer student to fall into the groove of things. I spent a long time trying to find my niche in what I wanted to study and do with my life. Being at UNC allowed me to discover my passion for art and history. When COVID-19 hit, it was definitely a transition for me as I had to learn how to juggle many things at once by managing my time between schoolwork, my work-study, my job and my internship. I was doing all at the same time. It taught me so much and showed me what I am truly capable of achieving.

Future plansI'm hoping to continue my love for history by getting my master's degree so that I can eventually move into museum work.

Advice you'd give to current and/or future studentsDo what you love and remember hard-work always pays off in the end!


Christina Yantis

Christina (Camy) Yantis

HometownLoveland, CO

Area of StudySpecial Education K-12 Generalist

Reflection on time at UNCI've loved my time at UNC. I have always felt that my professors genuinely cared about me and I've built meaningful relationships with my peers. I have also grown so much as a person and a professional thanks to my time at UNC.

Overcoming barriersIt wasn't always easy to be a full-time working professional and a full-time student all at once. There was absolutely a strain financially as well as added stress, but in the end it was so worth it.

Future plansI had the privilege of completing a paid student teaching experience, which connected me to my first teaching job! It's a dream come true to be teaching special education at Franklin Middle School here in Greeley!

Advice you'd give to current and/or future studentsYou get out what you put in. Put in the work and do well in your classes, but also invest in your community. Join a club, have conversations, seek out new experiences. It's worth it!

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