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Outstanding Grad More Than Just a Number

Biology and Honors College graduate Emily Tamadonfar was the recipient of UNLV's 100,000th degree.
People  |  Dec 22, 2011  |  By University Communications
UNLV Photo Services

Emily Tamadonfar is more than just the recipient of UNLV's 100,000th degree.

She is a future doctor. She is involved in the community. She is a researcher. She graduated with a perfect GPA in biology. And she was one of five outstanding graduates at winter commencement.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Tamadonfar practically grew up on campus -- her father has taught political science at the university for 25 years. The high school valedictorian could have gone to any school she wanted, but came to UNLV.

"I looked at other schools but UNLV was always at the top of my list," she said. "I knew that UNLV would afford me a lot of opportunities. And it did. I was actually able to be a part of the research process and not just wash test tubes. I could see my professors in their offices. The personal interaction at UNLV is something you don't get at other big-name universities."

Becoming a Doctor

Tamadonfar's next challenge will be medical school, which will combine her two passions: science and helping others.

She spent much of her undergraduate time serving the community. Through Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-professional Honor Society, Tamadonfar volunteered with local charities Opportunity Village and Chemical Interactions, a chemistry club on campus that does experiments for elementary school students. She also volunteered in the oncology unit at the Siena campus of St. Rose Dominican Hospital.

"It is important to really know your community and to get involved," Tamadonfar said. "Part of education is learning how to be civic minded and thinking about how you can contribute and give back to your community."

Before coming to UNLV, Tamadonfar knew she wanted to be a doctor and major in pre-med so she met with the College of Sciences pre-professional advisor Joseph "Nick" Nika while still in high school. "He was so knowledgeable and had everything laid out in a step-by-step process. His guidance helped me through my undergraduate career and certainly will help me get into the medical school I want."

She ranked in the top 5 percent in the nation on the American Chemical Society Standardized Test in organic chemistry -- a notoriously difficult subject. Tamadonfar has conducted research on a variety of subjects, including stem cell research, anatomy and histology database, and axonal outgrowth research. This Honors College student received numerous awards, including the Robert C. Maxson Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Scholarship and the Nevada System of Higher Education Regents Undergraduate Scholar award.