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Proudly Cincinnati: Class of 2012

Discover the personal challenges and triumphs UC graduates are sharing on their pathway to graduation.

Date: 6/4/2012 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Other Contact: Commencement Information
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-4194
Photos By: UC Photographic Services

UC ingot   The University of Cincinnati celebrates All-University Commencement during three ceremonies:

  • 2 p.m., Friday, June 8
  • 9 a.m., Saturday, June 9
  • 2 p.m., Saturday, June 9

All celebrations will be held in Fifth Third Arena.

UC graduate Alan Hagerty, 2011-12 Student Body President, will deliver the university oration for the June 8 ceremony. The Centerville, Ohio, native is graduating through the UC ACCEND Program with a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering as well as his MBA from the Carl H. Lindner College of Business.

Sarah Stenger, of Cleves (Cincinnati), will deliver the university oration for the Saturday morning ceremony. Stenger is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Carl H. Lindner College of Business.

Nick Hunter, of Colerain Township, will deliver the university oration for the Saturday afternoon ceremony. Hunter is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in German studies.

Here’s a look at some of the other graduates that make UC Proudly Cincinnati:

Doctoral Program Produces Its First Graduates
The first eight students to graduate with a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) from UC’s College of Nursing will be hooded on Saturday, June 9, at 9 a.m. The program is geared toward leadership, quality improvement, education and advanced practice. UC’s DNP graduates will be innovators in their practice settings, having participated in rigorous course work and completed well developed, innovative and comprehensive projects to facilitate change, improve care and implement evidence-based practice in an evolving health care environment.

Commencement is the Latest Achievement for Immigrant from Costa Rica
Maria Saulness says she grew up in a dirt-floor home in Costa Rica and walked through the jungle to get to school. Now at age 43, this distance learner is a recent U.S. citizen and is achieving her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Residing in Mt. Vernon, Wash., her march at Commencement will be the first time she sees the campus.

The Right Chemistry for Success
First-generation college student James Walker took to heart chemistry professor James Mack’s advice – “survive and advance” – and went from academic probation to vindication. With Mack’s guidance and a renewed focus on his studies and research, Walker turned his failing grades into a dean’s list-qualifying GPA, and this spring he’ll earn his bachelor’s degree in chemistry. The Mount Healthy native and McNair Scholar was accepted into nine graduate schools and has chosen a full-ride scholarship to attend one of the nation’s top doctoral programs in chemistry.

A Challenge Becomes a Calling
Diagnosed with a stuttering disorder and a learning disability at five years old, Damian Wilson wants to use his experience to help children and adults who stutter. While attending UC full-time in the Communication Sciences & Disorders program, Wilson spent time outside the classroom serving as a leader for local chapters of the National Stuttering Association and volunteering with a speech-language pathologist in Cincinnati Public Schools. Wilson was honored by his college to serve as the College of Allied Health Sciences flag-bearer during Commencement. This fall, he will attend the UC as a graduate student in speech-language pathology.

Overcoming Obstacles
Lindner Honors-PLUS scholar Josh Kramer never let an early diagnosis of Crohn's Disease stop him from living each day to the fullest. Since age 12, Kramer learned to cope with the chronic inflammatory intestinal disease that was "horrible and a blessing," he says. His involvement in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, as president of the Tribunal and undergraduate member of the dean search committee, earned him the college's Student of the Year award.

For Her Future and Her Children’s Future
There were a lot of questions that could have kept Danielle Smith from being the first member of her family to attend college. How would she afford to pay tuition and her mortgage at the same time? How would she accommodate a two-hour round-trip commute from Mount Orab, a roughly 3,000-person village in Brown County? How would she – a single mother of two children and day care teacher – find her place in a college coed’s world? There was only one answer: She would do whatever was necessary to show her children that anything is possible and a better life is theirs if they work for it.

Supporting Students at UC
Terri Hurdle, a program coordinator for UC’s Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD), has dedicated much of her career at UC to building leadership among students of color. She is now achieving her dreams of earning a Doctor of Education degree in urban educational leadership. Hurdle, a first-generation college student, says she understands firsthand the challenges that these students face.

PR1ZE Graduates Hit Record High Number
Thanks to help from dedicated mentors, 19 students who have received guidance from the support program for historically underrepresented minorities will graduate this spring.

A Road Less Traveled
For Tamaya Dennard, the 15-year road to graduation culminates this spring when she earns her BBA from UC’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business. Dennard first came to UC on a Lindner Honors-PLUS scholarship in 1997, but lost the opportunity by letting her GPA slip to 1.5. She says she struggled to return to college, often working more than 40 hours a week at two jobs. She returned in 2009 and now, 15 years later, she is the first member of her family to earn a college degree.

An Entrepreneurial Spirit
Josh Rudd, a Princeton High School graduate, is off to New York, after earning his bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship. That’s after he and a partner launched an overseas business – Piola Shoes – from a Carl H. Lindner College of Business classroom. After he relocates to New York, Rudd will be developing the U.S. market for the company. He was awarded the college’s 2012 Entrepreneur Undergraduate Student of the Year.

Commencement and Career Are The Latest Successes For UC Graduate
Danny Pierson will be joining the region’s morning rush-hour commute – but he’ll be driving south. For Pierson, this milestone has been an amazing journey indeed, stretching all the way back to when he was just an infant and adopted from Taegu, South Korea.

WATCH: Graduate Degree Is the Latest Victory For A UC Student Cancer Survivor
Tricia Monnin is achieving her master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from the UC College of Allied Health Sciences. But throughout her last year at UC, Monnin was haunted by some news that she was hoping to leave in the past. At UC’s Relay For Life in 2011, she announced that it looked like she might be in for another battle with a rare cancer that she was first diagnosed with in childhood.

From Military Veteran, to College Graduate, to Army Officer
U.S. Marine veteran Ashley Fuqua of Batavia, Ohio, a Glen Este High School graduate, served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and is the son of a Vietnam War veteran. Fuqua was awarded the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terror Service Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal as the result of his service in Al Taqaddum, Iraq, from January through September 2005. However, he says his pursuit of a college degree was inspired by working with medical professionals during his humanitarian mission in Kenya. Through his enrollment in UC’s Army ROTC program, Fuqua is commissioning as a Field Artillery Second Lieutenant the morning of June 8. He will graduate on June 9 from UC’s McMicken College of Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in biology.

From UC Cheerleader to U.S. Marine Corps
Carl H. Lindner Honor-PLUS scholar Joe Radloff will achieve his bachelor’s degree in industrial management. The BSIM program is one among a few in the country that is engineering based and designed for students with strong technical and quantitative abilities. After graduation, he’s off to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Mr. Bearcat’s a Free Agent
Varsity linebacker J.K. Schaffer was named UC’s “Mr. Bearcat” this spring. The award honors a graduating senior man who has achieved academic success, demonstrated leadership in diverse settings and has contributed to UC with his “Bearcat Spirit.”  Schaffer is graduating with a bachelor of science in criminal justice. He was middle-linebacker for the varsity football team, selected as team captain and defensive captain, recipient Big East Academic All-Star, Liberty Bowl Scholar Athlete and Defensive MVP, and was recently inked as a free-agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Two Seniors Honored With C-Ring Award To Recognize UC's Exceptional Female Graduate
Recipients are honored for excellence in their academic achievements, leadership, service and advocacy for women.

Four UC Graduates Are Awarded The Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence
The award is UC’s most prestigious honor for undergraduates.

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