Graduates will be honored for their determination and excellence inside and outside the classroom
Seven undergraduates will earn university-wide awards at the May 13 Commencement ceremony.

University Communications
May 5, 2022

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Chris Richards/University of Arizona

Seven graduating University of Arizona seniors will be honored during Commencement for their extraordinary accomplishments in the classroom and beyond.

The spring Commencement ceremony will be held in Arizona Stadium on Friday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. This year's ceremony marks the first one since 2019 to be held without COVID-19 restrictions. An all-virtual ceremony was held in 2020, and a series of smaller in-person events took place last year. A full schedule and more information about this year's ceremony are available on the Commencement website.

Nominated by faculty and peers, this year's seven student award winners were selected based on their determination, notable achievements and positive contributions to their families and communities.

Provost Award
The Provost Award goes to an outstanding graduating student who transferred to the university from an Arizona community college. Criteria for the award include perseverance and commitment to academic studies, contributions to the university community, and above-average scholastic ability, citizenship and leadership.

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Karen Jacquez
Karen Jacquez Chris Richards/University of Arizona

Karen Jacquez was born and raised in Tucson. She is an artist, single mother and full-time student. Outside of school, she has become involved with Groundworks, a local nonprofit organization promoting youth-driven music and art. Prior to enrolling at UArizona, she was involved with the Pima Community College honors program, which regularly held volunteer activities for students.

Jacquez is graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in law and a minor in psychology. Prior to attending the university, Jacquez received an associate degree in liberal arts from Pima Community College. She also completed her real estate credentials at the Hogan School of Real Estate.

She is a recipient of the Valley Foundation Scholarship, received the Dean's Badge of Engagement for completing a leadership academy at UArizona, and was on the Dean's List with distinction for all three semesters she attended the university. In addition, she worked with the Adalberto and Ana Guerrero Student Center and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, creating content for their social media pages.

Through her personal involvement with family law, while trying to gain sole custody of her daughter, Jacquez became inspired to help others navigate through this difficult experience. Following graduation, she will attend the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, with plans to practice family law.

Robie Gold Medal
The Robie Gold Medal honors those who demonstrate personal integrity, initiative, cooperation, enthusiasm, willingness to give more than required, and a love of God and country.

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Lily Yu Lin McNair
Lily Yu Lin McNair Courtesy of Lily Yu Lin McNair

Lily Yu Lin McNair is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in nutritional sciences with an emphasis on dietetics and a minor in biochemistry from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is from Yuma, Arizona, and attended the UArizona Yuma Campus. Her personal and professional goal is to assist the underserved, support healthy living in clinical practice, and increase the Yuma border region's health literacy rate through health education.

During her time at the university, McNair has worked toward fostering a sustainable, supportive community for nutrition students. She is a founding member and director of mentoring and networking for the UArizona-Yuma MANRRS, Nutrition Chapter.

McNair completed a 1 1/2-year internship at the Regional Center for Border Health Inc., under Ashlee Linares-Gaffer, associate professor of practice in nutritional sciences. While interning under the center's president and CEO, Amanda Aguirre, and Charlotte Richards, an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, McNair became interested in maternal and children's health. She focused on developing educational materials for healthy pregnancies and for children with special needs. She served as preceptor in the School of Nutritional Sciences and Wellness under Maria Plant and Katelyn Barker, assistant professors of practice in nutritional sciences.

McNair has been honored with several awards, including the Wildcat Distinction Award, Dean's Academic List with Highest Distinction, YumaCats Alumni Scholarship, the Howard V. and Margaret C. Smith Memorial Scholarship and the Arthur J. and Mary Faul Scholarship.

Following graduation, McNair will pursue a Professional Science Master's in Applied Nutrition, with a dietetics emphasis, at UArizona.

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My Duyen Tran
My Duyen Tran Chris Richards/University of Arizona

My Duyen Tran is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in molecular and cellular biology, with an emphasis in human health and genetics, and a minor in gender and women's studies. Originally from Saigon, Vietnam, her family moved to Surprise, Arizona, in 2008.

She has been a preceptor for general chemistry for the past three years, supporting assistant professor of practice Lani "Tori" Hidalgo, as well as a general chemistry tutor for the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology this last year. She acted as a pen pal coordinator in the Undergraduate Biology Research Program, collaborating with teachers and students at Mansfeld Middle School to encourage and inspire the next generation of scientists. Within the same program, Tran held a leadership role in which she organized social, volunteering and networking events among students. Additionally, she took part in the Women in STEM Mentorship Project, helping three students navigate their first year at UArizona.

To give back to the community, Tran volunteered in the surgical waiting room at St. Joseph's Hospital, as well as in the emergency department at Banner – University Medical Center. Additionally, she served as a Crisis Text Line volunteer counselor and supported texters in crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tran is passionate about research, working as undergraduate researcher in the lab of Daniela Zarnescu, professor of molecular and cellular biology, exploring aging and neurodegeneration in fruit flies.

Tran has been honored with several awards, including the Wildcat Excellence Award, two Galileo Circle Scholar awards, MCB Outstanding Senior Award, MCB Undergraduate Research Scholarship and an International Baccalaureate Award.

After graduating, Tran plans to apply to medical school.

Robert Logan Nugent Award
The Robert Logan Nugent Award goes to students who display a record of accomplishments that exemplifies the high ideals of Robert Logan Nugent, a former University of Arizona executive vice president.

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Nizan Howard
Nizan Howard Chris Richards/University of Arizona

Nizan Howard is graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in information science and technology and a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics.

Howard, who is originally from New York City, has worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Computational Language Understanding Lab. Under Rebecca Sharp, who had been an assistant research professor in the Department of Linguistics, Howard assisted in natural language processing research by exploring how to develop graphical models to express regular expressions to measure the process of sentiment analysis.

In her senior year, Howard joined the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Consortium and became a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. With her mentor, Celina Irinea Valencia, an assistant professor of family and community medicine, Howard worked on data map visualizations from fall 2020 to summer 2021. They initiated analysis on the effects of social determinants of public health on breast cancer, testing disparities in Arizona. Additionally, she had her research abstract published in UROC's summer research journal. 

In 2019, Howard studied abroad at the National University of Singapore to learn about the Malay community and the implementation of technological advancement across diverse communities. In 2020, Howard became treasurer of the linguistics club, encouraging minority students in STEM disciplines to pursue their dreams and providing a gateway for connection and insights in the computational linguistics community.

Howard has received several awards at UArizona, including the Florence K. Norman Scholarship and university-affiliated excellence and achievement awards. Howard plans to continue her journey to become an advocate for minorities in science, technology, engineering and math fields by pursuing a Master of Science in data science at the University of Washington, with a focus on fixing algorithm bias and improving inclusivity in technological development. 

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Trevor Tankersley
Trevor Tankersley Chris Richards/University of Arizona

Trevor Nolan Tankersley is graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences in physiology and medical sciences. Tankersley was born in Phoenix.

Interested in health care and medicine, Tankersley joined Alpha Epsilon Delta his sophomore year of college, a national health pre-professional honors society dedicated to the encouragement and recognition of excellence in pre-professional health scholarship. Through AED, Tankersley participated in many community-driven volunteering events and attended many health-oriented lectures. He also volunteered at Z Mansion, working with those experiencing homelessness, and the Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation, an organization that engages young students interested in STEM who are underrepresented in these fields.

Tankersley's strong interest in immunology started after an internship at a vaccine company. Additionally, his grandfather's diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease, and subsequent decision to volunteer in Alzheimer's vaccine studies, inspired Tankersley to continue that legacy by working to help find a cure.

Beginning in the summer of 2020, Tankersley began conducting research in the lab of former associate professor Hsin-Jung Joyce Wu in the Department of Immunobiology, studying the impact of the gut microbiota on the immune system, which became the focus of his senior thesis. Tankersley later joined the lab of Janko Nikolich-Žugich, professor and head of the Department of Immunobiology in the College of Medicine – Tucson, to continue conducting research, and he declared a second thesis focused on SARS-CoV-2 and modeling the disease in mice.

Tankersley has been awarded the Wildcat Excellence Award and the Dean's Distinction Award.

After graduation, Tankersley will work as a research technician in the Nikolich-Žugich lab, further honing his skills as a researcher. He then hopes to apply to graduate school and eventually obtain a doctorate in immunobiology.

Merrill P. Freeman Medal
The Merrill P. Freeman Medal is named in honor of Merrill Freeman, who served the University of Arizona as a regent and chancellor. Qualifications for the award include outstanding character.

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Bryce Galus
Bryce Galus Chris Richards/University of Arizona

Bryce Galus, a Tucson native, is graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in both marketing and business management from the Eller College of Management.

At the university, Galus found his place in various Eller organizations. As a freshman, Galus joined the Eller Leadership & Integrity Training for Excellence program, known as E.L.I.T.E., where he became passionate about professional development and engagement in the Eller College. This passion was furthered by joining the Eller Leadership Board. Since joining the board, he has become a mentor to E.L.I.T.E. students and currently serves as the board's president. Galus has also pushed for better engagement for diverse students in the Eller College by joining the Eller LGBTQ+ advisory board and driving forward important discussions about diversity and the experience of queer Eller students as the current advisory board president. 

Galus has been involved outside of the Eller College of Management as well. He served as president of SOPHOS Sophomore Honorary during his sophomore year, helping raise over $1,000 for the Alzheimer's Association. Additionally, Galus has been a member of Arizona Ambassadors since his first year, spending his free time giving tours to prospective students and their families. 

This past summer, Galus completed a sales internship with PepsiCo Inc. in Las Vegas. Galus will move to Texas after graduation and enter the professional world in the tech sales industry. 

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Anna-Rose Quinn
Anna-Rose Quinn Chris Richards/University of Arizona

Anna-Rose Quinn is graduating from the Eller College of Management with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in both marketing and business management. She is also a student in Eller's accelerated master's program, pursuing a Master of Science in marketing.

As a sophomore, Quinn was given a unique opportunity to found the Eller Impact program and served as president the first two years. The program was called Eller Impact because it was her goal to provide students with the necessary tools to succeed as upper-division students and to help make an impact on their peers, teammates and the Eller community.

Over the past two years, Quinn has worked as a professional development associate, assisting students in creating resumes and letters of intent and with interviewing. She also serves as president of the Eller College Dean's Council, where she works alongside other student leaders in Eller, serving as a liaison between students and faculty and administration in an effort to better the Eller experience.

Quinn is an active member of Kappa Alpha Theta, where she has taken the initiative to serve as an advocate for sexual assault survivors. In 2020, Quinn was given the Nebula Award for significant contributions to the Eller community for her work in Eller Impact. She was recognized as a Top Collegiate Woman of Eller in both 2020 and 2021, and as an Eller Scholar of the Year in 2021. Her proudest accomplishment at UArizona is having been crowned the 2021 Homecoming Queen.

After graduation, Quinn will pursue her master's degree in marketing at the UArizona.

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