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UAS Commencement 2017

This weekend, UAS will award 651 associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees along with occupational endorsements, certificates, and professional licensures.

Date of Press Release: May 3, 2017

This weekend, the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) will award 651 associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees along with occupational endorsements, certificates, and professional licensures. UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield, Provost Karen Carey, and UA Regent Dale Anderson will travel to each campus where the accomplishments of each student will be recognized. UA President Jim Johnsen will attend the Juneau commencement ceremony.

The UAS Sitka commencement ceremony takes place Friday, May 5, 2017 at 7:00 PM at the UAS Sitka Campus. The UAS Ketchikan Campus ceremony is set for Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 2:00 PM at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.

The UAS Juneau campus celebrates the 46th annual commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 7 at 2 PM at the Charles Gamble Jr.-Donald Sperl Joint Use Facility, 12300 Mendenhall Loop Road (REC Center).  The UAS Native & Rural Student Center hosts its annual Alaska Native Graduation Celebration at 11:00 AM in the Egan Library on the Auke Lake campus. In addition, a celebration of UAS School of Education graduates living elsewhere in Alaska will be held in Anchorage on Saturday, May 13.

Chancellor Rick Caulfield commented: “We are enormously proud of the accomplishments of these UAS graduates. Many are first-generation college students—the first in their family to achieve this level of education. Others are older non-traditional students who are already employed and raising a family but are working hard to improve their education, their skills, and the well-being of their families. Each and every one of these students has persevered through major challenges to achieve their educational goals. Congratulations to them all!”

This year’s Juneau student commencement speaker is JoMarie Alba, who graduates this year with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology.  She was born and raised in Ketchikan, but spent part of her childhood in the Philippines.  After earning an Associate of Arts in 2009, she decided to take a break from school.  During this time, she backpacked Southeast Asia and Australia, worked at music venue in New York, and drove across the country in a camper van.  The break allowed her to rediscover her curiosity of the natural world and passion for learning.  She came to UAS with one goal in mind – finish her undergraduate degree.  However, her experience at UAS proved to be more than just about earning a degree.  As a student at UAS, she became a part of a close-knit community that supported her in all her endeavors.  Within the natural sciences, she participated in three research projects on climate change, invertebrate histology, and toxicology.  Those projects led her to conduct independent research on fish metabolism.  The opportunities at UAS have taken her as far as Puerto Rico, New Orleans, and New York City, and as close as Sitka and Anchorage.  After graduation, she will continue to be a part of different research projects in Juneau, San Diego, and the Philippines.  She plans on attending graduate school, so that one day, she can return to Alaska and share her passion for science.

Honorary Doctorate of Education recipient Lorrie Heagy will deliver the Commencement Address. Heagy is the music teacher at Glacier Valley Elementary School where she works alongside teachers to provide arts integrated experiences to all students. Lorrie has twenty years of classroom experience and is honored to have represented Alaska’s teachers as the 2011 Alaska Teacher of the Year.  It was the support of the Juneau community that gave Lorrie the confidence to attend the New England Conservatory as a Sistema Fellow and return to create Juneau, Alaska Music Matters (JAMM), an El Sistema-inspired program that provides tuition-free string instruction to 600 students throughout the Juneau School District.  Lorrie provides teacher training in brain-based learning, student engagement and positive youth development throughout the United States and as part of the Master of Arts in Teaching program at UAS.  Lorrie holds three master’s degrees of education:  elementary, music and library education. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in instruction, learning, and innovation. 

Ruth Demmert will also receive an Honorary Doctorate of Education.  Demmert has been recognized regionally, statewide, and nationally for her contributions to indigenous Tlingit language knowledge and culture. Her letters of support included many Alaskan leaders and educators, including Lt. Governor Byron Mallott, Dr. Richard Dauenhauer, and Dr. Edward K. Thomas. Reflecting themes noted in all support letters is this statement by UAS professor Lance Twitchell: “Ruth Demmert is one of the few people in Tlingit country that unites in all directions. She is not political, but only seems to want perpetuation of knowledge, culture, language, and love for one another. She is a perfect example of what we need to become in order to improve ourselves as people, cultures, and a region. My hope is that she will be a recipient of the degree, and we can honor the knowledge and linguistic fortitude that she has instilled on a generation of language learners, teachers, and advocates. Her teachings and dance group leadership have changed the world for the better, and have pushed us to continue learning and achieving.”

A University of Alaska Meritorious Service Award will be presented to Connie Munro, a Juneau community advocate, educator, author, and volunteer. She received her education at the Juneau-Douglas Community College (AA), and Alaska Pacific University (MAT). She earned her secondary education certificate from UAS, and went on to further graduate studies in Adult and Community Education  British Columbia, England, Scotland, USSR, and Finland through Northern Illinois University. Munro is retired from a long career in adult education as an instructor, GED examiner, and program director for the Adult Learning Center, and led the state Adult and Community Education Program. She was instrumental in creating the Even Start Family Literacy Program for preschoolers and their families. Munro is a community activist, volunteer and leader for many community initiatives and is a well-regarded volunteer in the Alaska Native community. She helped lead the effort to create the Juneau Alliance for the Mentally Ill, has served on many local and state boards, commissions and committees. She was honored as the 2007 Woman of Distinction by AWARE (Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies) for her lifelong dedication to issues involving women and children, education, and civil rights. 

The Juneau commencement ceremony is immediately followed by a catered reception in the Lakeside Grill in the Mourant building on the UAS Auke Lake campus. Shuttle service will be available from the main campus parking area to the REC center.  The event is simulcast on UATV Cable Channel 11 and other locations in Alaska. 

Press Release Contact

Keni Campbell
University of Alaska Southeast
(907) 796-6509