Spring 2022 Senior Scholars honored by University

University of Nevada, Reno and the Nevada Alumni Association recognize 12 graduates with top grade-point averages

Morrill Hall exterior

Spring 2022 Senior Scholars honored by University

University of Nevada, Reno and the Nevada Alumni Association recognize 12 graduates with top grade-point averages

Morrill Hall exterior

Each semester, the University of Nevada, Reno and the Alumni Association honor an undergraduate student from each school or college who meets the exceptional Senior Scholar program standards. The graduating scholars are honored at a ceremony with their selected mentors. These outstanding members of the Wolf Pack have helped the University continue to develop as a center of academic excellence.

Jessica Camelon – Microbiology & Immunology

Senior Scholar from the College of Science & the Honors College
Mentor: Assistant Professor Deanna Colton

Jessica Camelon

For Jessica, northern Nevada has always been her home. So when she decided on the path she wished to pursue, the first school she wanted to attend was the University of Nevada, Reno. This school allowed her to learn more about the area and give back to the community during her time here.

In high school, her favorite subject was always chemistry. Her plan was to major in chemistry until she saw what the University had to offer. Jessica wanted to learn as much about science as she could, and Microbiology & Immunology offered a greater diversity. She could still learn about chemistry while studying a newer program that could help so many people.

Her favorite college memory was attending a virtual service-learning trip to Lima, Peru. She was able to raise money for the people of the area to build soup kitchens, and she learned from people living in the area about how the donations would help. The best part was being able to speak to the community leaders and healthcare providers about the problems they face, including the pandemic, and how people around the world could help.

After graduation, Jessica plans on applying to medical school to one day become a physician. Her goal is to become a psychiatrist practicing in Northern Nevada to give back to the community that she cares so much about. Jessica hopes to bring more awareness to mental health in the area and create an environment that makes all people feel comfortable enough to ask for help.

Gavin McCoy Claire – Computer Science & Engineering

Senior Scholar from the College of Engineering
Mentor: Professor Sergiu Dascalu

Gavin Claire

After being awarded valedictorian of Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas, Gavin was heavily recruited by numerous schools nationwide. Despite the temptation to leave Nevada, he only applied to Reno, knowing he would be given unparalleled opportunities by mentors here. He loves the state and wants to contribute to its tradition of excellence.

As a child, he had a keen interest in computers, and he was fortunate to have supportive parents who allowed him to pursue his dreams. In high school, Gavin started programming and publishing games for iOS, and that is when he became hooked and knew he wanted to work with computers for his career.

His favorite college memory was living with his friends from high school. In high school, he actively recruited all of his closest friends to go to Reno. As a result, all six of his best friends (Juno, Ian, Ben, Alex, Austin, Esther) came with him, and the memories they have made will last a lifetime.

Gavin has been admitted and plans to attend New York University as a Cyber Fellow after graduation. He will be getting his masters in cybersecurity while developing his own company. He plans to be the CEO of his own cybersecurity company in the coming years.

Justin Malogan – Neuroscience

Senior Scholar from the College of Science
Mentor: Associate Professor Pamela Sandstrom

Justin Malogan

Justin chose the University of Nevada, Reno because of the great student community and the positive environment he observed during his campus tour. He was also drawn in by the university's marching band, research opportunities, and the abundance of student resources they offered.

Justin was originally a biology major, but during his second year, he realized that he wanted to learn more about the neural mechanisms and pathways of the human brain. Neuroscience satisfied that yearn for knowledge and even combined his two favorite fields of biology and psychology.

During his time at the university, he has met and became friends with an array of different people, with each group having their own favorite memory associated with them. From his time as a resident in the residential halls, his favorite memory was with his suitemates during a late-night Taco Bell hot-sauce packet fight. His favorite memory from his time as an RA was all of the late nights they spent prepping decorations hours before their residents moved in. He also liked his time as a discussion group leader, working with other leaders to make funny mnemonics and teaching activities to present to the students. While he was in marching band, his favorite memory was any time he got to hang out with his fellow members of the trombone section. All the jokes, games, and mayhem they got into were truly what made his college experience the best.

After graduation, he plans on taking a gap year to focus on research and substitute teaching. During his gap year, he also plans to apply to graduate schools to get his master's, then eventually his Ph.D. in Neuroscience. His long-term goal is to become a Professor of Neuroscience at a university.

Gabriela Meza Garcia – Social Work

Senior Scholar from the School of Social Work
Teaching Faculty Member Jocelyn Mata

Gabriela Meza Garcia

Growing up in Reno made her decision to attend the University of Nevada, Reno easy. She loves the Reno community and plans to give back to it upon graduation. She figured a great way to start was staying local and learning from the individuals teaching and working in the community.

When asked about how she decided on her major, she replied with a quote from author and scientist Ayesha Siddiqi saying, “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” She then continued: “Without a doubt, these words have resonated with me from the moment I heard them. As a female Latina growing up in the United States, I experienced hardships that children should not experience. I strive to be the person I needed by doing something greater than myself and helping those who are most vulnerable.”

Gabriela’s favorite college memory is her senior year. She has had the chance to practice social work and intern at the Second Judicial Court- Specialty Courts.

After graduation, she will pursue a master’s degree at the University of Nevada, Reno, in Social Work. University has been an environment of support, preparation, and encouragement during her undergraduate education. She believes that will be no different during her graduate education.

Jillian Mitsuda – Speech Pathology & Audiology

Senior Scholar from the School of Medicine
Executive Director of University Advising Emilly Borthwick-Wong

Jillian Mitsuda

Jillian grew up traveling and knew she wanted to leave her home state of Hawaii for college. Her family and friend recommended she check out the University of Nevada, Reno, and after visiting campus, she enjoyed it here. She loves the mountains, the cold weather, and how different it was back home!

Since high school, Jillian knew she wanted to be a Speech-Language Pathologist and chose the Speech Pathology and Audiology major here at the University to start her journey towards that goal. She is so happy to have chosen UNR for her undergraduate degree as she has enjoyed her time in this program.

Her favorite college memory is meeting all her friends through work, clubs, and classes! She feels that these are lifelong friendships that will follow her past her days here at the university.

After graduation, she plans to attend a Speech Pathology graduate program. She has not made a final decision on which program she will be attending yet, but she is excited to begin her next step toward becoming a speech-language pathologist.

Keegan Murphy – Business Management & Economics

Senior Scholar from the College of Business
Vice President for Student Services Shannon Ellis

Keegan Murphy

He chose to attend the University of Nevada, Reno because it felt like home when he stepped onto the campus. He loved the sense of pack pride others had in the community and in each other, and it only felt right as a born-and-raised Nevadan to study at the University.

Upon arriving at the University, he wasn't sure what he wanted to study, but he knew that he loved all things business and government. After taking some different classes, he realized business management and economics blended his interests in managing people, leadership, policy, and business perfectly together.

Keegan's favorite college memory was serving as the ASUN Student Body Vice President. For him, it was the privilege of a lifetime to serve his fellow peers and create lasting connections with other people. He will never forget the unique opportunities this position has brought him.

In response to a question about his plans after graduation, he said he would work in the private sector for a few years before returning to school to earn his MBA. In order to become a better leader in the future, he hopes to gain relevant work experience and expand his skill set.

Sara Perez – Public Health

Senior Scholar from the School of Public Health
Assistant Professor Eric Crosbie

Sara Perez

Growing up in rural Nevada, the University of Nevada, Reno had a constant presence in Sara's childhood, from science fairs and plays at the theater to visiting her brother and sister in their classes. She has always felt like she was a part of the wolf pack, and going to the University was a perfect choice, allowing her to stay close to home and receive the best education in Nevada.

Sara has always wanted to work in health care, so she planned on majoring in Biology. However, while attending the Best and Brightest event, she had the opportunity to meet former Dean Trudy Larson of the School of Community Health Sciences. She helped Sara to realize her passion for public health, and the rest is history.

When asked about her favorite college memory, she responded: "Luckily, having an older sister at UNR, she taught me all of the ins and outs of how to study, where to study, and more importantly, what coffee to study with. Being the coffee fiends, we have studied at nearly every coffee shop in and close to Reno. My favorite memories are the countless hours I spent with my sister, studying, laughing, and increasing our caffeine tolerances."

Sara is attending the University's Master of Public Health program, specializing in health administration and policy. She plans to continue her research in tobacco control and add to her publications. Her ultimate goal is to receive her Ph.D. in health policy and teach at the collegiate level.

Madison Priest – Nursing

Senior Scholar from the Orvis School of Nursing
Lecturer Jasen Brooks

Madison Priest

Madison attended the University of Nevada, Reno, because it has a beautiful campus and offers great education programs. It is the college that her parents went to, so it was always one of the universities she was interested in.

Her first major was not actually nursing! She knew she wanted to do something medical, but she wasn't sure which path to take. It wasn't until she worked as a nursing assistant on an oncology unit that she witnessed the passionate and fulfilling nurse-patient relationship. After working on this unit with nurses and seeing their dedication, she changed her major to nursing! She thinks it was one of the best decisions she has ever made, and she cannot wait to be a patient advocate.

When asked about her favorite college memories, she mentioned going to the football games with her nursing friends. Nursing school brings you very close to the people in your class, and she has made many great memories. She continued: "It was really fun in the fall after a hard week of studying to go to the football games together. It was at Orvis where I met some of my closest friends."

After graduation, Madison plans to take a trip to the UK before studying for her nursing exam. After passing this exam, she hopes to work in a hospital in this area. She hopes to one day be an ICU nurse and then continue her career in leadership and nursing education positions. She also plans to continue her education after gaining some experience as a registered nurse!

Catherine Schofield – Journalism

Senior Scholar at Reynolds School of Journalism
Lecturer Nico Colombant

Catherine Schofield

Catherine wasn't really sure where she wanted to go to college in high school, and she attended a few college fairs where the University was tabling. She ended up coming on a campus tour and was amazed by how beautiful the campus was and how many services there were for students here. However, most importantly for her, it was far enough away from her hometown that she was able to gain her own independence here in Reno.

Catherine decided on a journalism major on a whim. She knew she wanted to write and had originally thought she wanted to study English but after a campus tour and talking with representatives from the RSJ, Catherine decided to take a chance and study journalism. She liked how diverse the range of skills being taught was and how there are so many fields that a journalism degree can open for you. Now she is so happy that she took that chance!

Asked about her favorite college memory, she responded: "Some of my favorite college memories come from being a part of the WolfPack Marching Band, even though I didn't feel comfortable enough to continue with the band through the pandemic. My favorite memory was when the band accompanied the football team to the Idaho Potato Bowl in January 2020. Anytime the band traveled together was a lot of fun, but my section that year was pretty strong, and I loved spending time with my friends and playing music together!"

After graduation, she has a summer job as a summer camp counselor at a camp that means a lot to her. Afterward, she plans to move to Denver, CO, with her boyfriend and a friend and see what she can do there! Catherine hopes to get a job in radio, podcasting, or social media management. She is also hoping to be able to work outdoors more and work to share diverse stories.

Madison Shirley – History

Senior Scholar at the College of Liberal Arts
Assistant Professor Jennifer Ng

Madison Shirley

Madison is a native Nevadan, and she has always loved and appreciated the Reno area. She said: “I’ve loved our beautiful campus since before I can remember, and my support system, comprised of the most wonderful friends and family, are all close by. As I was graduating high school, I knew that the University of Nevada, Reno is where I wanted to be.”

“Museums have always spoken to me as a very special place for reflecting on the past and how we have arrived at our present, and history seemed like the natural course to feed this interest,” Madison replied. The history department at the University of Nevada is lucky enough to have some of the most brilliant and creative minds. So, before the end of her first semester as a freshman, she knew that pursuing history would be the right field for her. History has offered such incredible insight into the world, and she cannot recommend it more highly.

Madison’s favorite college memories are the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 basketball seasons. Not only did they have a great team, but the entire community was incredibly involved, and the atmosphere at Lawlor Events center was exciting. She will never forget how packed and loud home games were; it was a special experience that she will always remember.

Her volunteer experience at museums and her past work experience at a non-profit institution for the last 6 years have taught her that serving her community is what she is most passionate about. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career that will continue to help foster her love for history and service to her community.

Kendall Warnock – Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Senior Scholar at the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources
Associate Professor Dennis Mathew

Kendall Warnock

Kendall chose to attend the University of Nevada, Reno because she fell in love with the campus when she toured the University during a Nevada Bound. She thought it was gorgeous and liked the atmosphere on campus and in the city itself. Even though Reno is much bigger than her hometown, it feels like a small caring community.

She was originally a biology major, but she transferred to biochemistry her sophomore year after learning more about the lab experiences and thesis course. Kendall had always wanted to be more involved in research, so she was excited to eventually get the opportunity to work on a thesis. She also wanted to learn more about specific biochemical pathways as she loved learning about them in high school. It was the perfect fit!

When asked about her favorite college memory, she responded, “There are so many memories that I do not think I can pick just one. However, almost all of my favorite memories are from the long nights in the KC with my friends studying or going on random late-night adventures to get food. We were in the KC until closing many nights during my freshman year, and I can’t help but smile when I remember these times.”

After graduation, Kendall will be applying to medical school in June. She is hoping to take a gap year and continue working as a scribe during this time, then start medical school in the fall of 2023!

Madison Yeager – English & Secondary Education

Senior Scholar from the College of Education & Human Development
Instructor Caroline Hatcher

Madison Yeager

She chose to attend the University of Nevada, Reno, because, as someone from Las Vegas, she wanted to venture out into college, live in a different city, and still be close to her family. That, coupled with university’s esteemed status, made her feel that she would get the best college experience if she attended.

She initially wanted to be a teacher, but she was solely an English Literature Major. After learning about the PackTeach Program in her sophomore year, she immediately applied and became a Secondary Education and English Dual Major. She has always had a passion for literature and adolescents, so being in this program has allowed her to achieve her educational and career goals.

Her favorite college memory is when she attended the Great Reno Balloon Race with her best friend during freshman year. Being from a desert, she was blown away by San Rafael’s lush beauty and the magnificence of the hot air balloons.

When asked about her plans after graduation, she stated that she plans on returning to Las Vegas to begin her teaching career at a middle school in Clark County. Along with that, she will be working towards earning her Reading Curriculum and Literacy M.Ed. Degree at the University of Nevada, Reno.

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