Every semester the University Alumni Association honors an undergraduate student from each school or college who meets the exceptional Senior Scholar program standards. Each Senior Scholar selects the faculty mentor who played the most significant role in their scholastic achievement.
The accomplishments of these individuals have helped develop the University of Nevada as a center of academic excellence.
College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources
Mentor: Gary Blomquist
Growing up in my family, my parents were careful always to say, "When you graduate from college" not "If you go to college".
I owe so much to my parents for recognizing and endorsing my potential long before I was mature enough to realize it myself. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to attend the University and for your unfailing support during my tenure here.
Thank you for the emails in the morning wishing me a great day and best of luck on exams; thank you for the phone conversations at night which gave me a brief respite from studying; thank you for allowing me to come home on occasion for a satisfying home-cooked meal and a few free loads of laundry.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to study biochemistry at Nevada. This department has been like a second family to me. The caring faculty has encouraged me to grow intellectually and to test my mettle as I metamorphose into an adult while always championing my successes.
I especially thank my mentor Gary Blomquist for his encouragement, guidance, and continuous support of my academic achievements. It has been an honor and a pleasure to be your student and to do research in your laboratory.
I also want to thank Jeremy Bearfield, the post-doc with whom I have worked so closely for the past year and a half in lab toward completion of my thesis.
Jeremy, thank you for shaping me into an independent thinker and problem-solver; and thank you for your endless patience and willing assistance every step of the way. I feel so privileged and blessed to know both of you, my teachers but most importantly, my friends.
Lastly, thank you to the Alumni Association for this prestigious award which I am incredibly honored to have received.
College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources
Mentor: Benjamin King
Four years ago, I had hesitated attending the University of Nevada, Reno as I thought no college located in my "backyard" would be able to give me an adequate education. And, boy, was I wrong!
What I soon realized was that each individual's success is not the responsibility of a university, but is, rather, a product of what one puts into one's education, how much one strives for, how strong one competes, and how often one seizes the opportunities that present themselves.
It was these life skills that had been instilled by my parents years ago which suddenly made more sense than ever before.
By being a part of the Biochemistry Department, I was allowed to apply these skills. I was challenged both intellectually and emotionally throughout my education by professors too numerous to list. However, it was my organic chemistry professor, Dr. Ben King, who really allowed me to pursue my goals.
Over the three years that I worked in his research lab, not only did I become a better scientist, developing a strong commitment to the integrity of the intellectual process, but I grew as an adult. It is him that I thank for allowing me to travel abroad to conduct research this upcoming summer, and it is him that I thank for pushing me to such heights during my undergraduate career.
However, I wouldn't be here tonight without the terrific upbringing by my parents, Bob and Phyllis, as well as the friendship and support of my triplet sister and brother, Daphne and Drew.
To you four I am forever indebted, and it is to you that I dedicate this Senior Scholar award, gratefully given to me by the Nevada Alumni Association.
College of Business Administration
Mentor: Betty Cossitt
When I graduated from high school in 2002, I was looking forward to college and its new levels of responsibility and independence. A new chapter of my life was beginning, and I welcomed an environment of learning and opportunity. But as I entered the University, I didn't know where I was going to direct my college career.
I had no idea which major to choose.
Two things helped me make a decision. First, math had always been my best subject in school; numbers just came naturally to me. Second, from an early age, my parents showed me the importance of integrity in both my private and professional lives.
They taught me to always be honest with myself and others and to never compromise my ethics. Since I wanted a career doing what I did best in a profession that promoted honesty and ethics, I naturally chose accounting as my major and found a home in the College of Business Administration.
It wasn't until I reached Betty Cossitt's Intermediate Financial Reporting class that I knew I had made the right choice concerning my major.
As both my teacher and advisor for the past two years, Betty has helped me to excel academically in so many ways. Her classes and instruction have reinforced the foundation on which my entire collection of knowledge is based. I have learned so much from Betty Cossitt and all the other amazing professors within the College of Business Administration.
I am truly proud and honored to be associated with such a fine group of people.
As I look forward to graduate school and the years beyond, I see that I still have a long way to go, but I also see that I have come incredibly far.
I would like to thank my parents for their constant love and support, Betty Cossitt for her guidance and encouragement during my journey to graduation, and the University of Nevada, Reno for five wonderful years.
College of Education
Mentor: Kim O'Reilly
After four glorious years of Fridays off and no classes before ten, I can't believe I'm already graduating! Real life was always a distant reality in which I would work eight hours a day, five days a week, and have a classroom of my own.
Now that it's right in front of me, I am sad that this era of my life is over, yet relieved that I feel ready for what comes next and thankful to everyone who helped me reach this point.
Throughout my college experience, I have learned many different things: the value of a well-written book, the difference between a good teacher and a great one, and that getting an A means nothing if I have not learned how to apply the knowledge.
I would like to thank my mentor, Dr. O'Reilly, who showed me a genuine example of a highly successful teacher who has a continuous love of learning and a dedication to the students in her class.
As I tried to narrow my list of people to thank for getting this huge honor, I realized just how difficult that would be and how lucky I am to be surrounded by such amazing and supportive people.
It seems natural to thank my parents first since their love and continuous encouragement have sculpted me into the person I am today.
I also want to mention my older brother, Tchad, who showed me the benefits of working hard and acted as my own personal tech support. Also, I need to thank my twin sister, Rachelle and our separated-at-birth triplet, Rachel, with whom I lived a majority of my college years, for putting up with me all those times I was stressed and for constantly making the long and busy semesters more bearable.
And lastly I want to thank the most important person in my life, my loving husband Ty, whose patience and support have carried me through my college years.
College of Engineering
Mentor: Dean Adams
In five short years, Reno has become my home. When I first moved to Reno from Placerville, Calif., my initial reaction was, "Where are all the trees?"
I was a little shocked when in May of my freshman year I left class to find the entire campus covered in a blanket of white, May! I quickly got used to the unusual weather patterns and I have even grown to see the beauty of the sagebrush-covered hills.
When I first set foot on the University of Nevada campus, it was two weeks before school started in the fall of 2002. I was here for volleyball fall camp and I was more than a little apprehensive. I had prepared my whole life for the adventure, both athletic and academic that lay before me but as the time finally arrived, I wasn't sure I was ready.
The practices were hard, I was tired all the time, and I hadn't even started classes yet. That first fall I learned valuable lessons in time management and the power of napping.
I practiced hard and I studied hard, much harder than I realized would be required. The challenges didn't end after that first semester, but gradually through the help of talented coaches and professors, I gained the tools to meet each new challenge.
I was impressed by the sincere interest the faculty in the College of Engineering had in the success of the students. I was especially impressed and extremely grateful for the effort my mentor, Dr. Adams, made in ensuring my success.
My time at Nevada has been filled with amazing people who have shaped my experiences and made the last five years an enjoyable and educational time. I have been so blessed by the incredible friends I have made, who have been a constant source of encouragement.
I have also been blessed with parents who have always been supportive of whatever adventure I wanted to try and sisters who have been my source of reality whenever I take life too seriously.
As I am finishing my undergraduate education, I look forward to the future with anticipation and excitement, but also with the confidence that my time here at Nevada has prepared me for whatever the future may hold.
College of Health and Human Sciences
Mentor: Nora Constantino
The hardest part of college was not the all-nighters, nor the anxiety-inducing exams. It was not the tedious research papers, group projects, presentations, or even trying to locate the brachial plexus in a cadaver.
Truly the hardest part was having to choose, to prioritize. When a friend calls having a bad day and needs someone to just be there, is that more important than the paper due the next morning? How do I decide how to invest my time and energy?
As a sophomore, I first faced the dismal prospect of graduating in five years, a year longer than I had hoped. But it came down to four years of too many credits and too much stress, or five years of actually living during my college career. I chose the latter.
I have never regretted that choice. I would not have traded the last five years for anything, especially all of the life lessons I have learned, lessons I would not have had the opportunity to learn with my head constantly buried in textbooks.
I firmly believe that my greatest accomplishment in receiving this award is that it has not come at the cost of relationships. I invested as much as I could into my studies, but loving others came first. Maybe success does come once you've stopped looking for it.
So, thank you to the Alumni Association for this incredible honor. Thank you Nora, for helping me to quit stressing so much about school. Thanks to all my friends, for making life so wonderful. Thanks Kristopher and Jessie, for the encouragement and joy you constantly bring me. Mom, Dad, thank you, this is for you. This award is a testament to your love and devotion to your kids. And thank you Jesus for beautiful life itself.
Reynolds School of Journalism
Mentor: Bob Felten
A great man once sent me a slideshow comparing life to a train ride. "We get on. We ride. We get off," it said. "There are accidents and there are delays. At certain stops there are surprises. Some of these will translate into great moments of joy, some will result in profound sorrow."
When I look back upon my education and what I have come to learn across the years, I think not of books, tests, dates, essays, and speeches. For me these facts are just the exterior of my education that will eventually fade away from my memory as the years replace this unused information with even more surface data.
The knowledge that has embedded itself within me has come from my many adventures and several misadventures and from the amazing people who have stepped onto my train and made a lasting impression as I enjoy my ride.
I was fortunate enough to meet several educators who have not only encouraged me, but pushed me beyond my comfort zone. My faculty mentor Bob Felten assigned me to countless interviews, forcing me into real life journalism assignments. In my opinion he was a bit too quick with his infamous red pen, but Bob made me a clear and concise writer, and he always listened to my opinions and concerns. His anecdotes, jokes, and continual supply of chocolates helped a little too.
But the person I have become today is largely due to my supportive passengers who have willingly sat next to me on my train. My friends provide me with laughter, memories, social insight, and will forever give me a reason to smile.
But my most supportive travelers are my family members, who have had to deal with all my heaviest baggage along the way. Not only were they always behind me in all my endeavors, but they provided me with the example of how to live a life of class, humor, intellect, and generosity. I could never ask for greater role models, or ever thank them enough.
To all those people who have made my journey as wonderful as it has been I thank you. I am blessed that you have been, and still are, on my train.
College of Liberal Arts
Mentor: Michael Webster
My life began when a spark ignited within my heart to study medicine. Fluent in Spanish, I have for nearly five years been volunteering as a medical translator.
As a future physician, I want to be able to heal the whole patient. For this reason, I am pursuing my bachelor's degree in Psychology. I want to be able to understand my patients, their families, their cultures, as well as their ailments so that I can heal my patients physically and emotionally.
My studies at Nevada have given me the honor of meeting many excellent faculty and staff to whom my gratitude is immeasurable. In my final year as an undergraduate, I have the honor of working under Foundation Professor Dr. Michael Webster, my faculty mentor.
I was originally a student in his perception class where my thirst for knowledge led me to peruse a visual/perceptual research opportunity with him. I am very grateful for Dr. Webster's patience and expertise as he guides me through the creation of my honors thesis, which I have had the honor of presenting at the University's Undergraduate Research Poster Conference and on which will have the honor of giving a talk at the 2007 Vision Sciences Society (VSS) Annual Meeting in Sarasota, Florida this May!
My great appreciation also goes to Dr. Tamara Valentine and the entire Honors Program who have honored me by taking me under their wing during this invigorating four year quest for knowledge and helping me discover the person I am today!
I also thank my mother, whose nurturing love and support makes her the sunlight in my life. It is with my most humble gratitude that I accept this great honor from the Nevada Alumni Association. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!
School of Medicine
Mentor: Dennis Uken
My interest in speech-language pathology was sparked my junior year of high school at a college fair, where I discovered this intriguing profession. From a young age I knew that I wanted to serve people in hopes of helping individuals have a better and more satisfying life.
How I was to accomplish this dream was unknown until I learned about speech-language pathology. I entered the University of Nevada, Reno with the hope that my speech-language pathology classes would be as intriguing as I had imagined to determine if this was really what I wanted as a career.
After my first class in speech-language pathology, I fell in love with the medical, clinical, and educational aspects of this profession. The past four years in the Speech Pathology and Audiology program has brought me challenges, rewards, and the realization that becoming a speech-language pathologist is my calling in life.
My love for speech-language pathology was developed through learning experiences both in the classroom and in the clinical setting. These practical experiences could not have been possible if it was not for the dedicated and talented professors of the Speech Pathology and Audiology Department.
Dr. Dennis Uken is one of the professors that furthered my interest in this field of study. I feel truly blessed to have had Dr. Uken as a professor and mentor, for he has always been available and wholeheartedly willing to help me with any challenges that I have faced through my undergraduate career.
I am very thankful that I will have the opportunity to continue my education by earning a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology under the guidance of Dr. Uken, as well as the other devoted professors of the Speech Pathology and Audiology Department.
My family has given me nothing but enthusiastic support throughout my educational journey. I feel greatly blessed to have them as a strong foundation in my life, and I am grateful for their guidance and love along my journey. My educational achievement would not be possible if it were not for the continued support of my family, friends, professors like Dr. Uken, and the University of Nevada, Reno.
College of Science
James Ryan Jensen
Mentor: Carol Ort
The only advice that I can remember receiving upon my entrance into college and the vast array of activities and changes that would ensue as a result came from my grandfather when he told me, "Enjoy it, they will be the best years of your life."
Despite the countless hours spent studying and the numerous sleepless nights, I can without a doubt agree that the time I have spent at the University of Nevada, Reno has been the best of my young life.
Aside from the myriad of life-long friends that I have made and the fun times spent partying during breaks and weekends, college has been filled with continuous learning and attainment of knowledge. My years at Nevada have not only fostered me to grow intellectually, but they have also helped me grow and mature as an individual.
The only goal that I set for myself at the beginning of my career at Nevada was to always be committed to each and every class while doing my best to absorb all of the knowledge that my professors were trying to impart.
This was certainly a daunting task, but one professor stood above the rest and created an unparalleled learning environment. Dr. Carol Ort is undoubtedly my mentor. Her extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for teaching made learning enjoyable and seemingly effortless.
As I prepare to go off to dental school and embark down another long and difficult road, I know that the knowledge gained from Dr. Ort and the rest of the faculty at UNR will be invaluable to me in the years to come.
I would like to credit my family and close friends for my success because without their love and support, it would not have been possible for me to attain this award. I would also like to thank the Alumni Association for selecting me as a Senior Scholar. It is truly an honor to be in the company of such accomplished students.
Nevada Alumni Council
- Randy Brown '89
- Cindy Buchanan '95
- Mike Dillon '94
- Michael Pennington '95
- Mary Harmon '93, '97
- Roberta Bibee '83
- Julie Ardito '89
- Seema Bhardwaj '02
- Chad Blanchard '93, '03
- Kelly Bland '91
- Todd Cabral '91
- Sarah Ragsdale (ASUN President)
- Stephanie Clemo Hanna '96
- Jim Conkey '83
- Roger Diedrichsen '71
- Dawn Etcheverry-Miller '94
- Jason Frierson '96
- Kerri Garcia '92
- Andrew Hillyer '88
- Carlos Ledon '01
- Lisa Lyons-Maloney '88
- Patrick Martinez '95
- Marlene Olsen '74
- Marcedes Parsons '84
- Stephanie Pesek '97
- Chris Vargas '95
- Charlie Walsh '86