May 3, 2012
Some 5,000 people will fill UNC Asheville's Main University Quadrangle beginning 9 a.m. Saturday, May 5, as the university holds its 84th annual Commencement ceremony. Among the 480 students who have earned diplomas, more than 430 are expected to participate in commencement. UNC Asheville's Class of 2012 comprises 731 graduates, including those who earned their diplomas in August and December 2011.
Erskine Bowles, one of North Carolina's best-known public servants, will deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree; Al Whitesides, a lifetime Asheville resident, and leader in civil rights, business and education, will also receive an honorary degree.
So what will UNC Asheville graduates do following commencement? Many are bound for some of the nation's finest graduate programs, one is headed to Nevada for a job with the National Weather Service, another won a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Sri Lanka before returning to the U.S. for a career in education, and others have found high tech jobs with area manufacturers. Please see profiles below.
The Class of 2012 is also notable for the graduation of all six seniors on the 2012 Big South Champion Bulldog men's basketball team. Some are hoping to continue their basketball careers at the professional level, one is headed for law school, and some plan to enter the job market. Please see list below.
For more information about honorands Bowles and Whitesides, please see the April 6 news release.
For complete information about commencement and related events, visit the UNC Asheville Alumni Association website or call 828.251.6512.
Annelise DeJong (BA in Sociology, Distinction in Sociology, University Scholar, University Research Scholar, Latin honors) won a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English is Sri Lanka. As part of UNC Asheville study-abroad programs, she has already taught English to a predominantly Quechua-speaking class in Peru, and has studied in Costa Rica. After her year in Sri Lanka, DeJong plans to attend graduate school and eventually become an elementary school teacher.
Christy Kirk (BFA in Art, Distinction in Art, University Research Scholar), a painter, is headed for St. Louis, where she has been accepted to one of the nation's top Master of Fine Arts programs, the Sam Fox School of Art at Washington University. Kirk credits Virginia Derryberry and Robert Tynes, both of the art faculty and both painters, with pushing her and encouraging her. "From my first semester here, they saw through my façade and told me, 'You can do more,'" says Kirk. She focuses on representational art, including portraits. "I want to invoke emotion through body language and use of color," says Kirk.
Ben McDonald (BS in Chemistry, Distinction in Chemistry, University Scholar, University Research Scholar, Latin honors) will begin graduate studies at Northwestern University this fall after weighing scholarship offers from other prestigious programs. McDonald gained notice with his undergraduate research with indole analogs of the cancer drug combretastatin; he experimented with ways to optimize the drug's ability to starve a tumor's blood supply while minimizing side effects. McDonald offers his congratulations to all of UNC Asheville's chemistry graduates, saying, "with the rigor of this program, it's a real achievement."
Mechatronics graduates: Patrick Herron (BS in Engineering, joint degree with N.C. State University, Concentration in Mechatronics) will be moving to Roanoke, Va., to work for TMEIC (Toshiba-Mitsubishi Electric Industrial Systems Corp.). Other Mechatronics graduates will stay in the area, having found jobs at Eaton Corporation, Vertique, and Tutco-Farnam Custom Products, all in Arden. About 90 percent of UNC Asheville's graduates in Mechatronics are employed in their discipline or related engineering fields, according to Joe Fahmy, director of Engineering at UNC Asheville. The Mechatronics program, one of only two similar accredited programs in the country, is a partnership between UNC Asheville and N.C. State University, where Fahmy holds a faculty position. Mechatronics is the integration of computer control into the operation of mechanical systems for advanced manufacturing and robotics.
Jeremy Michael (BS in Atmospheric Sciences) begins work at the National Weather Service in Elko, Nev., in just a few weeks and is looking forward to a career in meteorology. Michael, who became fascinated with weather at a very young age, says he has benefited from "a lot of one-to-one time with professors, and the camaraderie of UNC Asheville's handful of classic weather enthusiasts." Since freshman year, he has been involved with different research projects – some involving weather balloons, others analyzing snowfall patterns, and measuring rainfall at remote locations in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Emily Pineda (BS in Health and Wellness Promotion) has not yet begun graduate school, but she is about to do something very rare for an undergraduate - submitting an article about her own research project for publication in an academic journal. Her study involved using the university's new "bod pod" to measure fat vs. lean body composition, and comparing individuals' self-perception with actual measurements. Pineda earned UNC Asheville's Outstanding Leader Award and the Athletic Director's Leadership Award in her senior year. She has worked with middle school students to encourage healthy lifestyles, and assisted the university's strength coaches in their work with UNC Asheville student-athletes; she is a member of the track and field team. This fall, Pineda will enter East Carolina University's graduate program in kinesiology with a concentration in physical activity promotion.
All six men's basketball seniors will graduate:
- Madison Davis (BS in Health and Wellness Promotion)
- Matt Dickey (BS in Health and Wellness Promotion), Big South Conference Player of the Year, Honorable Mention All-American, Big South All-Academic Team, UNC Asheville Male Athlete of the Year
- Jeremy Harn (BA in Political Science, Distinction in Political Science), accepted to law school, Big South Track and Field All-Academic Team
- Quinard Jackson (BS in Management and Marketing)
- J.P. Primm (BA in Mass Communication), Big South Tournament MVP, Big South All-Conference Team
- Chris Stephenson (BS in Health and Wellness Promotion), Big South All-Tournament Team