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Newsmakers 2016: Student Success

A sampling of UNLV media coverage regarding high-achieving students and young alumni.

People  |  Dec 27, 2016  |  By Keyonna Summers
UNLV Hockey team during a game

UNLV hockey moves to Division 1 status next season. (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Photo Services)

From academics to athletics, young UNLV rebels made their mark on history in 2016. Here are just a few students who made headlines for their achievements, many of which we'll continue to hear about in 2017.

Outstanding Alumni

Each semester, UNLV seeks campus and community nominations for outstanding graduates to be recognized by the president during commencement. The enduring campus tradition continued this year, as President Len Jessup highlighted 12 newly minted grads — eight during spring commencement and four in winter — for their academic success, research, and community service.

Truman Scholar

Undergraduate Hannah Kelley was one of just 54 college students nationwide to win the prestigious 2016 Truman Scholar Award. Truman Scholars — selected for stellar academic and leadership performance — receive a $30,000 scholarship toward graduate school and get the chance to participate in professional development programming to help prepare them for careers in public service leadership. Kelley, the fourth UNLV student to win the award since 2008, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education and a teaching role here in Southern Nevada.

Solar Decathlon

The UNLV Solar Decathlon team is back at it again after initially competing in 2013 — finishing first among American universities and second overall. This time around, they are taking advantage of sunny Las Vegas to build a solar home customized for the needs of the elderly. UNLV is one of just 16 university teams worldwide picked to compete in the 2017 U.S. Department of Energy contest that challenges students to design, build and operate homes that are energy-efficient, affordable and innovative.


In June, junior Kasey Foley was profiled as he and two other UNLV swimmers competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 50 Freestyle for a chance to represent the United States in Rio. Several months later,  Lee Business School student Connor Fields soared past the BMX semifinals then made history at the 2016 Summer Olympics by winning the United States’ first gold medal in BMX.

National Dance Champs

UNLV’s dance team, the Rebel Girls, won the national title in Hip Hop at the 2016 Universal Dance Association College National Championship in January. It was the team's fourth national title, with wins in 2008, 2010, and 2013. Members of the team appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” following the win.

New Heights in Hockey

The American Collegiate Hockey Association voted to approve elevation of UNLV to Division I status in men's hockey, effective next season.