Ryan Romero has the perfect word to sum up UNLV: Opportunity.
This class of 2017 hospitality graduate continued his journey at UNLV and is now earning another degree — Master of Education. You may recognize Ryan as the emcee from UNLV Creates or a number of other student events (think: signature red jacket). He's one of the first people to meet our new students, and his passion for UNLV abounds from that first moment. Now, as he crosses the finish line on his next diploma, he will continue to grow in his role in higher education. Who knows what opportunity he'll run in to next.
Oh, how can I pick just one? For my undergraduate degree, it was probably being named homecoming royalty my senior year. Rebel Homecoming has always been one of my favorite times of the year since it brings everyone from alumni, staff, students, and community members together to celebrate UNLV. Hearing my name announced during half time of the Homecoming football game as the crowd bursting into applause is a memory I can still see perfectly. This memory even lasts because I decided to try out a scarlet and grey glitter beard, and I am still finding glitter to this day!
For my graduate degree, it would be emceeing UNLV Creates. When I first started at UNLV in 2013, this was the very first tradition I went to, and it was unlike anything I had ever seen, and I loved watching and being a small part of the Rebel Welcome. Now it's surreal to be the one on stage as welcoming 4,000 new incoming students to their new home.
Ever since I planned Premier UNLV in 2016 and helped UNLV break the world record for the most LED lights lit simultaneously, I knew I wanted to plan events and programs on college campuses. My bachelor's and master's degrees and their focuses are perfect to go down this path, and I wouldn't have found my passion without UNLV. I currently work as an admissions counselor for UNLV and LOVE every day of it and look forward to continuing to grow in higher education. Large events are going to look very different in the years to come, and I think it is an opportunity to learn new ways to engage with students.
A unique thing I learned about UNLV was actually from my own mother, and it's that the university is almost the exact same age as my mom! I talk about this all the time when I do presentations. UNLV was founded on September 10th, 1957, and my mom was born on October 24th, 1957. When I called her on her 60th birthday, she told me "Thanks, Ryan! I am as young as college, and I used to work there."
As a runner, I will never forget my first marathon. The feeling of crossing that finish line is something I think about every day I go out for a run. Sometimes completing a degree can feel like you just ran a marathon because of all the time and effort you put into the process. Well, Rebels, welcome to your finish line! Now time to eat our weight in donuts. Congratulations to the Class of 2020!
We know this isn't how you imagined finishing up your degree ... How has COVID-19 affected your last semester?
COVID-19 is an ongoing hill we are conquering each day and we've had to discover ways to connect with family, friends, classmates, and, most importantly, even myself. It allowed me to take a moment for myself and remember that I have worked hard for this degree and keep moving forward. This isn't the first roadblock that happens to me in my higher education. Within my time as a student at UNLV, I learned that I'm HIV positive, have high blood pressure, and am dyslexic. I am all about turning barriers into opportunities for motivation and even though these things happened, I persevered and turned them into positives. I did this by speaking publicly about my status at an HIV/AIDS on-campus awareness event I planned, losing 80 pounds by running over 2,000 miles and paying $9.99 a month + tax for the premium version of Grammarly.