UNLV has a commencement tradition for the President to honor a few exceptional students who embody the academic, research, and community impact of the graduating class.
Diana Peña’s combination of academic aptitude, research excellence, and civic engagement has set the bar high for future UNLV undergraduates.
Peña is a first-generation college student, biology and psychology double major, and member of UNLV’s Honors College whose research in the School of Life Sciences has earned recognition both on campus and beyond. Through tadpoles, Peña is exploring how insulin — when introduced at the right time — can promote tissue regeneration and repair, work that could one day positively impact human health. She received a 2014 award and 2015 fellowship through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program for her work, and she was among the first to be honored with UNLV’s Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award.
When the rising researcher is not in the lab or in class, she volunteers as a tutor for UNLV Buddies and mentors young at-risk students on the ins and outs of higher education. Peña, who graduates with an impressive 3.71 GPA, is the recipient of numerous university and national scholarships, including the UNLV Rebel Achievement Scholarship and the Ronald McDonald House Charities Alumni Scholarship.