A mid-December Commencement dream

December grad: 'It can take something simple ... to make a huge difference'

The University of Nevada, Reno will celebrate the graduation of more than 1,500 students on Saturday, Dec. 10 during the 2011 Winter Commencement ceremony.

12/7/2011 | By: Natalie Savidge and John Trent  |

Winter Commencement has a special vibe. Although it is often cold outside, the mood inside Lawlor Events Center each December is decidedly festive and warm.

Those who graduate on Dec. 10 at Lawlor Events Center come from many different backgrounds, with unique stories of personal achievement on the road to graduation.

If there is one thing the December 2011 Commencement class should remember, says Bryce Leinan, who will receive a degree in general studies with an emphasis in criminal justice, it is that all graduates have the capacity to impact the world in real and meaningful ways.

During the Caughlin Fire on Nov. 18, when more than 10,000 residents of Reno were evacuated, 1,946 acres of land burned and more than 30 homes were lost, Leinan took it upon himself to create a Google Map — the "Caughlin Fire Map" — that, first based on police scanner traffic, and later, when opened to the public for editing, provided continuous updates of the fire's movement, as well as the locations of vital safety information such as relocation centers.

Leinan's "Caughlin Fire Map," which was viewed by anywhere from 450,000 to 600,000 people, is believed to be one of the first such "crowd-sourcing" maps to follow and update the progress of a wildland fire. His map was used extensively by national and worldwide media in the hours and days following the fire.

For Leinan, who has worked as a help desk technician at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, the map was just one example of the great reach the Winter Class of 2011 can have once it enters the workforce following this weekend's Commencement ceremony.

"Too often, people graduate from college thinking about what kind of career they are going to go into, and aren't always looking for ways to serve," he said. "It really isn't that difficult to make a difference — it takes something as simple as creating a Google Map, or something small, to make a huge difference in the world."

Leinan and more than 1,500 other degree candidates will gather for the University of Nevada, Reno's Winter Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Lawlor Events Center. A total of 1,101 bachelor's degrees and 446 advanced degrees or certificates (master's and doctoral degrees and education specialist certificates) will be awarded.

Students and faculty leaders will assemble for commencement at 8 a.m., and the formal processional begins at 8:30 a.m. University President Marc Johnson will welcome attendees.

The University awarded 1,549 degrees at the December 2010 ceremony and 1,467 degrees at the December 2009 ceremony.

Public parking is available in the West Stadium Parking Complex, directly north of Lawlor Events Center.

More information about the University of Nevada, Reno's Winter Commencement and tips for attending.

Additional Commencement Week Events:

Wednesday, Dec. 7

3-5 p.m.: Honors Convocation, Joe Crowley Student Union, Ballroom C.
For more information, contact Becky Amezquita at (775) 784-1455 or raa@unr.edu.

Thursday, Dec. 8

6-8 p.m.: Senior Scholar Awards Reception, Joe Crowley Student Union, Ballroom C.

The University of Nevada, Reno and its Alumni Association are proud to recognize eight graduates with one of the most prestigious awards at the University of Nevada, Reno - the Senior Scholar distinction. The top graduating student and his or her faculty mentor from each school and college are honored during the awards reception.

For more information, contact Amy Carothers at (775) 784-6620 or acarothers@unr.edu.

Friday, Dec. 9

Noon-2 p.m.: Orvis School of Nursing Convocation, Joe Crowley Student Union, Ballroom.
For more information, contact Sharon Muldoon at (775) 682-7166 or smuldoon@unr.edu.

Saturday, Dec. 10

7-8 a.m.: College of Engineering Commencement Breakfast, Joe Crowley Student Union, Ballroom C.
For more information, contact Sam DiMuzio at (775) 784-6925 or sadimuzio@unr.edu.

7-8 a.m.: Community Health Sciences Graduate's Breakfast, Joe Crowley Student Union, Great Room, 403.


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