Among the 3,000 students graduating this semester, there are six who stand out for their academic achievements, community outreach, and ability to overcome adversity.
UNLV President Neal Smatresk honored these six Outstanding Graduates at May's commencement.
B.S. in Athletic Training
Cody Bremner's combination of classroom success and commitment to serve both his community and his country make him a prime example of the power of higher education. A U.S. Army veteran who served honorably in Iraq, Cody came to UNLV from Utah and has made a remarkable impact as an athletic training student and advocate for improved management of concussions in athletes. Cody was chosen to represent Nevada in two national athletic training student leadership conferences, served as an athletic trainer to local high school and UNLV student athletes, and was selected for a summer internship at the prestigious Mayo Clinic. He recently completed an internship with Major League Baseball's Kansas City Royals and played a key role on UNLV's athletic training quiz bowl team that won the regional championship after being ahead at one point by more than 10,000 points. Cody graduates with a 4.0 GPA and plans to enroll as a graduate student in the School of Allied Health Sciences this fall.
M.P.H. in Public Health
Sean Comeau's master's program research into ways of combating the quagga mussels that have invaded Lake Mead has placed him in a regional, if not national, spotlight. For 52 consecutive weeks he went out on the lake to conduct multiple sample collections of the tiny creatures that some consider the most serious nonindigenous biofouling pests introduced into the freshwater systems of North America. With no national standard on how to decontaminate boats infested with these invasive mussels, Sean developed one. An article on the subject -- on which Sean served as lead author -- already has appeared in the top environmental health journal Biofouling. This fall Sean plans to begin studying for a medical degree at the University of Nevada School of Medicine.
Leisl Carr Childers
Ph.D. in History
Leisl Carr Childers graduates as a published academic with a 3.95 grade point average. She is the first student in UNLV's history doctoral program to pass both the written exams and the oral exam with the distinction of Honors. During her doctoral studies she has presented 13 professional papers at the most prestigious national conferences in her field and has published -- or has forthcoming -- four scholarly articles and essays. Already, at least three university presses have shown interest in publishing her 600-page dissertation, "The Size of the Risk: An Environmental History of the Nuclear Great Basin." Leisl served as assistant director of UNLV's nationally recognized Nevada Test Site Oral History Project and has received several awards, including the first Hal Rothman Student Scholarship and the 2009-20010 UNLV President's Fellowship. This fall she will be joining the faculty of Northern Arizona University.
B.A. in Economics, B.A. in Computer Science, and B.S. in Math
Shipra De completes her undergraduate career at UNLV by receiving not one, but three bachelor's degrees. The Honors College student has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics, a Bachelor of Arts degree in computer science, and a Bachelor of Science degree in math -- all with summa cum laude honors. Her grade point average is 3.978. She has participated in several research projects, including one in the field of graph theory, which was part of the National Science Foundation's EPSCoR Undergraduate Research Program. She is the recipient of numerous honors and close to 20 scholarships, including the 2010 Goldwater Scholarship, the 2011 Nevada Regents Scholar Award, and the Wolzinger Family Research Scholarship. Shipra was also a National Merit Scholar and valedictorian of her Green Valley High School class of 2006.
B.A. in Economics
Courtney Waldron orchestrated a well-rounded college experience. An Honors College student, she is now graduating with a 3.9 grade point bachelor's degree in economics with a minor in math and concentration in music. Courtney is also an accomplished cellist with the UNLV Symphony and has performed with local bands. For her Honor's thesis, and as part of a National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant, Courtney investigated ways to track the public's willingness to pay for efforts to reduce the effects of climate change. Her combination of talents in the arts and in economics has earned her a Fulbright fellowship for the coming year. She will be studying the link between cultural attractions and economic diversification at the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain. After the fellowship, she plans to pursue a doctorate in economics.
M.S. in Sports Education Leadership
Elian Aljadeff-Abergel is proving the important link between physical education and overall learning. With a perfect 4.0 grade point average, the native of Israel earned a master of science in education. She easily overcame language and cultural barriers as a teaching assistant to earn high evaluations from UNLV undergraduates. Elian's research proved that an intervention system for at-risk students vastly improved academic and social skills. Her work has resulted in a number of journal articles and impressive presentations at international conferences. She has touched the lives of local children by teaching physical education classes at two local schools. She took four particularly challenged students under her wing and turned their school behavior around, earning them high praise from their regular teachers and peers.