UNC Asheville Celebrates May 2023 Graduates at Commencement Ceremony

Student Speaker Sam Shepard addresses the May 2023 graduating class.
May 8, 2023

The University of North Carolina Asheville’s spring Commencement ceremony on May 6, 2023, marked the graduation of over 400 Bulldogs. Held at Kimmel Arena, the event was presided over by Interim Chancellor Kimberly van Noort, with a livestream available on the University’s YouTube channel.

This diverse graduating class ranged in age from 19 to 58, with 93% of the graduates from North Carolina. Psychology had the highest number of graduates at 10.7%, followed by English at 7.5% and management at 7.0%. Environmental studies (6.5%), biology (6.3%), and mass communication (6.3%) were also among the most popular majors. The average class cumulative GPA was an impressive 3.38.

Sam Shepard, a chemistry major and neuroscience minor and a member of the University Honors Program, was selected as this year’s student speaker. With an overall GPA of 4.0, Sam was one of only 10 national recipients of the Marion B. Sewer Distinguished Scholarship for Undergraduates awarded by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. They have also been accepted as a Research Training Award Fellow at the National Institutes of Health, joining the laboratory of Dr. Robert Seder at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease in Bethesda, MD, whose lab played a critical role in developing the Moderna mRNA vaccine.

The University also recognized Joe Brumit, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, as the recipient of this year’s honorary degree. Brumit, founder and owner of the Brumit Restaurant Group, has made significant contributions to his profession and community in Asheville, Buncombe County, and across Western North Carolina.

Dr. Keya Maitra, professor of philosophy, was honored with the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. This prestigious award recognizes exceptional teaching and honors outstanding tenured faculty members from each of North Carolina’s public universities.

UNC Asheville May graduates will be embarking on diverse paths, including pursuing Ph.D.’s, volunteering in Israel, building and designing theater sets, teaching Buncombe County students, and more. Learn more about these graduates and their post-college plans by visiting UNC Asheville Stories.