UNC Held In-Person Spring Commencement Ceremonies, May 8-9
May 10, 2021
The University of Northern Colorado held its spring commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 8, and Sunday, May 9, at Nottingham Field with more than 1,900 expected graduates. Joining this year’s graduates were approximately 200 of UNC’s 2020 graduates. Our most recent alumni, who were noted by their gold mortarboards during this year’s ceremonies, were invited to walk across the stage this year to receive their degrees; an opportunity they missed out on last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
To comply with public health guidance regarding large, seated outdoor events, the university hosted four separate ceremonies over the two days for both graduate and undergraduate students. The ceremonies were also streamed on UNC’s Commencement website. Additionally, there were also two virtual Hooding Ceremonies for doctoral candidates during the evening of Friday, May 7.
A total of around 1,900 students graduated in May with around 1,300 earning bachelor’s degrees and 600 earning either a master’s, doctoral or specialist degree. Note: Spring and summer 2021 degrees will be conferred in June.
Virtual Hooding Ceremonies
The Graduate School hosted two Virtual Doctoral Hooding Ceremonies for doctoral candidates and invited research advisors and committee members to attend. Family and friends were welcomed to join, and regalia was not required. The RSVP Deadline for doctoral candidates was April 12.
The virtual hooding ceremonies took place on Friday, May 7, at the following times:
- 5:30 p.m., May 7: Colleges of Natural and Health Sciences and Performing and Visual Arts Doctoral Candidates (livestream link)
- 7 p.m., May 7: College of Education and Behavioral Sciences Doctoral Candidates (livestream link)
In-Person Commencement Ceremonies
UNC hosted in-person commencement ceremonies for all graduates. In-person ceremonies were organized by college and combined both graduate and undergraduate students. The ceremony livestreams are available on the commencement website for guests and those who were unable to attend in person.
- 9-10:30 a.m., May 8: College of Performing and Visual Arts and Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business (livestream link)
- 1:30-3:30 p.m., May 8: College of Natural and Health Sciences (livestream link)
- 9-10:30 a.m., May 9: College of Humanities and Social Sciences (livestream link)
- 1:30-3:30 p.m., May 9: College of Education and Behavioral Sciences(livestream link)
UNC received confirmation from our local public health department that each UNC graduating student will be able to have four guests. This was the final change to the guest policy for UNC’s spring commencement ceremonies. Learn more about the guest policy.
All Ceremonies: Teresa Adriana Castro Carrillo
The speaker for all in-person ceremonies on May 8 and May 9 was Student Body President Teresa Adriana Castro Carrillo, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. She served as the first Afro-Latina student body president at UNC. Throughout her time as a student, she has been part of Student Senate, the University Program Council, the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center, the Multicultural Greek Council and Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority, Inc. All her roles on campus have inspired Castro to pursue higher education and give back to college students from marginalized identities.
PVA and MCB Speakers
Graduate Student Speaker: Jenna McLean, Doctor of Arts, Jazz Studies
Jenna McLean is a jazz vocalist and lecturer in Music and Entertainment at the University of Memphis Lambuth in Jackson, Tennessee. She earned her Doctor of Arts degree in Jazz Studies with a dissertation entitled "A Study in Effective Teaching Methods in Jazz Voice Technique in Higher Education." She also completed her Master of Music Degree in Jazz Studies at UNC and has a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Wyoming.
During her career she has studied with Julia Dollison, Kerry Marsh, Ben Markley, Steve Kovalcheck, Maureen Boddicker, Larry Hensel and others. McLean is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Jazz Education Network and is certified in Level I of Somatic Voicework™ with Jeanie LoVetri. She was the 2019 winner of the Downbeat Student Music Awards Graduate Vocal Soloist Category and a 2019 recent recipient of the Pathways to Jazz Grant.
Undergraduate Student Speaker: Benjamin David Gebhardt, Bachelor of Science, Finance
Ben Gebhardt graduated from UNC with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a minor in Political Science. After graduating from high school in Greeley, Gebhardt decided to stay local and go to the university where his father works. His time at UNC has given Gebhardt the opportunity to participate in study abroad, Investment Club, Club Lacrosse and Sigma Chi fraternity. Upon graduation, Gebhardt is planning to start work in asset management, eventually pursuing a joint MBA and JD program.
NHS Student Speakers
Graduate Student Speaker: Emily O’Neill, Master of Science, Dietetics with Internship program
Emily O’Neill, who is originally from Colorado Springs, received her master’s degree in Dietetics from UNC. She received her bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences with an option in Dietetics in 2016 from Oklahoma State. O’Neill believes wholeheartedly in the importance of public service and spent the last two and half years working for El Paso County’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) office as a WIC Educator, providing nutrition education and support to families in her community. Her passions continued with advancing her qualifications into becoming a Certified Lactation Counselor to further aid in supporting mothers in need. She plans to continue to serve the community of Colorado by becoming a registered dietitian and hopes to foster and promote healthy lifestyles, while supporting intuitive and evidence-based approaches to nutrition and wellness.
Undergraduate Student Speaker: Daisy A. Solis, Bachelor of Science, Human Services
Daisy Solis is a first-generation, first-citizen Latinx woman who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from UNC. Her roots are a constant reminder to fall in love with the opportunities and resources that her parents were unable to have in Mexico. Her involvement on campus includes being a Reisher Scholar, a Student Ambassador for the Office of Admissions, an Orientation Leader and a Senior Orientation Leader for the Office of New Student Orientation, a volunteer and ally for the César Chávez Cultural Center, a dancer and actress for Operation Cheesecake, and lastly, a proud sister of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc.
HSS Student Speakers
Graduate Student Speaker: Oluwatobi Oluseyi Ogunmodede, Master of Arts, Criminology and Criminal Justice
Oluwatobi Oluseyi Ogunmodede graduated with a master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from UNC. She received her bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice with a minor in Africana Studies from UNC in 2015. She was born in Aurora and raised in Castle Pines, Colorado, and is a proud daughter of Nigerian immigrants. Since the start of her time as a student at UNC, she has made an active presence at the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center as a student employee and has been an active member of affiliated clubs including African Students United, Black Student Union and Black Women of Today. Since the start of her graduate program, Ogunmodede assumed the role of graduate assistant running the Bear Pantry, a collaborative initiative on campus that aims to combat food insecurity among college students on campus.
Undergraduate Student Speaker: Brianna M. Burkett, Bachelor of Arts, Communication Studies
Brianna Burkett graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from UNC. She started working toward her associate degree at the age of 15 and completed her degree at 18. After that, Burkett received her high school diploma and pursued her education at a higher level. Burkett is a self-described taco addict, outdoor enthusiast, people lover, self-driven dreamer, coffee addict and plant mom.
CEBS Student Speakers
Graduate Student Speaker: Ashley Arnold, Master of Arts, Special Education
Ashley Arnold graduated with a master’s degree in Special Education from UNC. She is a Colorado native and received her bachelor’s degree in Sport and Exercise Science at UNC in 2010. Through her coursework, she has been teaching for three years as a special education teacher at the Sierra School of Weld County where she teaches sixth through twelfth grade students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and other exceptionalities, in a language-model program.
Undergraduate Student Speaker: Hailie Macy, Bachelor of Arts, Psychology
Hailie Macy graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and grew up in Fort Lupton, Colorado. She began college concurrently during her senior year of high school and graduated with an Associate of Arts in Psychology from Aims Community College in 2019. During her time at UNC, Macy participated in the Upper Division honors program, completing an undergraduate thesis, and served as a mentor to fellow undergraduate students. Throughout her time at UNC, she worked as a youth mentor, mentoring local foster youth, and following graduation, she aspires to pursue a master’s degree in social work.
—Written by Katie Corder