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UNLV to Welcome Newest Graduates During Spring Commencement May 8 at Thomas & Mack Center

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More than 3,200 Undergraduate, Graduate and Professional Students Eligible to Participate in UNLV Spring 2010 Commencement Ceremonies
Campus News  |  May 6, 2010  |  By UNLV Media Relations
Media Contact: Contact: UNLV Office of Public Affairs (702) 895-3102


University of Nevada, Las Vegas Spring 2010 Commencement Ceremonies


Saturday, May 8, beginning at 9 a.m.

9-11:30 a.m. - colleges and schools of business, dental medicine, education, engineering and hotel administration

2-4:30 p.m. - colleges and schools of law, fine arts, health sciences, liberal arts, sciences and urban affairs


Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV


More than 3,200 UNLV undergraduate, graduate and professional students are eligible to participate in this year's spring commencement ceremonies. This spring's grads range in age from 19 (four students) to 70. Commencement will also stream live online at

UNLV President Neal Smatresk will award honorary doctorates to Sarann Preddy and Edward J. "Ted" Quirk for their contributions to the community and their support for higher education in Nevada. In addition, Col. Jerry Bussell, Sheldon & Miriam Adelson (a.m. ceremony), James "Bucky" Buchanan II (posthumously) and former Nevada System of Higher Education chancellor Jim Rogers (p.m. ceremony) will be recognized as Distinguished Nevadans.

For additional details, including guest and visitor information, please visit

Note: Media wanting access to the Thomas & Mack floor must obtain event-specific credentials prior to commencement by calling the Office of Public Affairs at (702) 510-4628 (a.m. ceremony) or (702) 443-3962 (p.m. ceremony).

Outstanding Graduates

UNLV President Neal Smatresk chooses outstanding graduates each semester after a semester-long nomination process. Students are chosen based on outstanding academic achievements, community outreach, and their ability to overcome adversity.

Outstanding UNLV Graduates - A.M. Ceremony

  • Leonardo Banchik - B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
    Leonardo Banchik is a testament to UNLV's emerging strength in renewable energy research and education. An Honors College student who graduates with an impressive 3.94 GPA in mechanical engineering, Leonardo has made an indelible mark in the area of solar research as a member of the UNLV Center for Energy Research. His work to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic systems was presented at the 2009 Energy Sustainability Conference in San Francisco, and his design of an inexpensive solar tracker for industrial systems took first prize in the college's recent Senior Design Competition. As an intern last summer at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, he placed third in a national research competition for designing a sensor that uses gold nano-particles to detect small traces of harmful mercury vapor in the air. Leonardo recently earned a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship and will conduct solar research in Spain this summer.
  • Harmoney Ricley - B.A. in Accounting
    Harmoney Ricley's combination of classroom success and community engagement makes her the epitome of an outstanding UNLV graduate. Harmoney, a first-generation college student, persevered through personal hardship to complete her degree in accounting while also serving as a math and science tutor for at-risk middle school students through university's Center for Academic Enrichment and Outreach. As Miss Western Heritage 2010, Harmoney travels the region promoting the ideals of western living at rodeos and by conducting free clinics for young women interested in continuing the American cowboy legacy. She plans to compete next spring for Miss Rodeo Nevada before returning to UNLV as a student in the Boyd School of Law.
  • Marissa Nichols - M.Ed. in School Counseling
    Marissa Nichols is a record-breaking student athlete who earned incredible success both on the softball diamond and in the classroom at UNLV. As a freshman on the UNLV softball team in 2005, Marissa earned All-America honors and was named UNLV's Sports Woman of the Year after setting team records in runs, hits, home runs and stolen bases. She battled injuries in 2007 and 2008, but returned to the diamond last season and was named All-Mountain West Conference. Marissa was also named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team last season and to the academic all-conference team four times. She earned a B.S. degree in human services counseling in 2008 and today receives an M.Ed. in school counseling. She has served as an executive member for The Student Organization of Addiction Professionals and is an active member of UNLV's Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society, Omega Alpha Chapter.
  • Ordene Edwards - Ph.D. in Educational Psychology
    Ordene Edwards has already made a marked impact in the field of educational psychology. Her research on goal orientation has been published by two top research journals, and she has three manuscripts in progress. This work has the potential to improve attention in students, which can lead to enhanced learning and retention. Ordene, who hails from the small Caribbean island of Dominica, serves as a part-time instructor in the department of educational psychology and manages data analysis for the Nevada Center for Evaluation and Assessment. She was awarded the prestigious Barrick Graduate Fellowship in 2009 and the UNLV Graduate and Professional Student Association's Outstanding Research Presentation Award the same year.

Outstanding UNLV Graduates - P.M. Ceremony

  • Hilary Billings - B.A. in Psychology
    Hilary Billing's combination of civic engagement and academic excellence has set the bar high for future UNLV undergraduates. Hilary graduates Summa Cum Laude with a 3.98 GPA in psychology and has participated in numerous research projects as an undergrad. Her investigation into body satisfaction, stress and gossip in females will be presented at the International Conference for Eating Disorders in Austria. Outside the classroom, Hilary founded a dance program for middle school students in the Clark County School District and is a regular volunteer for UNLV's Meals on Wheels program. In addition, she has supported an occupational therapy center for mentally and physically disabled children and interned for the city's DUI Alternative Sentencing Program.
  • Lora Griffin - B.S. in Geoscience
    Lora Griffin is a non-traditional student who has achieved significant academic and research success at UNLV. After helping her daughter successfully earn undergraduate and graduate degrees, Lora enrolled as a geosciences undergraduate. Since that time, she's earned numerous scholarships and awards, participated in research funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA, and bested M.S. and Ph.D. level geology students at two international student research competitions. Lora's research focuses on the formation of large and unique gold deposits in Nevada, research that demonstrates for the first time that fine-grained clay minerals are consistently associated with gold. She also published work on the development of a digital map of certain surface features on Mars during an internship with NASA.
  • Xavier Glaudas - Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    Xavier Gluadas has attained unprecedented research success as a Ph.D. student in the School of Life Sciences. Xavier is responsible for 13 published articles - for which he's lead author on 12 - in prestigious research journals such as Conservation Biology and the Journal of Zoology. He received six UNLV fellowships and scholarships totaling more than $47,000 for his research on space use and mating activities of the speckled rattlesnake, research that takes him to the rugged terrain of Southern Nevada's El Dorado Mountains. In 2008, he was invited by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists to present original research on the defense behaviors of the cottonmouth water moccasin. Xavier, who served as Life Sciences representative to the UNLV Graduate and Professional Student Association and as president of the school's graduate student organization.
  • Fred Krauss - Ph.D. in Sociology
    Fred Krauss' dedication to the success of UNLV graduate students - both as a student leader and professional staff member - will be felt on campus for years to come. A two-time president of UNLV's Graduate and Professional Student Association, Fred joined the UNLV Graduate College as director of graduate student outreach in 2007. In this position, he recruits and advises prospective and current graduate students and helps them remain on the path to academic success. As a researcher in the field of sociology, Fred examines the complex social interactions of sports book patrons, arguing that "regulars" to these locations use this environment for much more than just betting and that a sense of community can be created in seemingly unusual places. Fred is currently a second-year student in the UNLV Boyd School of Law's nationally ranked part-time evening program.