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A group of UNC students standing and smiling and taking a selfie in their caps and gowns at graduation

UNC Graduates a Diverse Class of More Than 1,200 this Spring

Nearly 43% of the spring 2024 undergraduate class are the first in their families to graduate from college

The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) celebrates its newest graduating class at its spring commencement ceremonies May 3-4, inside the Bank of Colorado Arena. This class includes the largest percentage of first-generation students receiving a bachelor’s degree in the past five years and the most diverse classes of graduate and undergraduate students during that same timeframe.  

Overall, the College of Natural and Health Sciences is awarding the largest number of bachelor’s degrees this year, and the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences is awarding the largest number of master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees. 

Graduate Commencement, recognizing approximately 389 students who will receive a doctoral, specialist or master’s degree, will take place on Friday, May 3, at 6 p.m. 

Undergraduate Commencement will include three ceremonies on Saturday, May 4, recognizing approximately 843 students receiving bachelor’s degrees.

  • The ceremony for graduates of both the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and the College of Performing and Visual Arts begins at 9 a.m.
  • The ceremony for graduates of the College of Natural and Health Sciences begins at noon.
  • The ceremony for graduates of both the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business begins at 3 p.m. 

RELATED: Celebrating the Class of Spring 2024

An additional 309 students are expected to complete their degree requirements this summer and are eligible to participate in the spring ceremonies. 

All ceremonies will be held at UNC’s Bank of Colorado Arena. Tickets are required for entry and are distributed to graduates electronically via their BearMail accounts. Guests must obtain tickets before the ceremony as they are not available at the door. 

The ceremonies can be viewed in many ways, including livestream via UNC’s website and on social media platforms for family and friends watching from home. The university also offers live Spanish-language interpretation services and viewing spaces on campus for people who want a less crowded viewing space. 

More information about tickets, parking locations and a campus map are available on UNC’s commencement website. 

Meet Our Spring Graduates 

  • The spring undergraduate class is the most diverse one in the past five years with the number of students identifying as Hispanic/Latine (24.3%), Multiracial (5%) and Black or African American (4.3%) at some of the highest percentages over that timeframe.  
  • This year marks the highest percent of graduate students who identify as Hispanic/Latine graduating in a spring ceremony in the past five years, more than doubling from 7% in 2020 to 16.7% in 2024.  
  • Undergraduate students graduating this spring received over $24.4 million in combined merit-based and private scholarships and grants (aid that doesn’t need to be repaid) throughout their UNC education.  
  • The spring class has the highest percentage of undergraduate students in the past five years (42.9%) who are the first in their families to earn a college degree.   

Most popular undergraduate degree programs:

  • Psychology (100) 
  • Business Administration (98) 
  • Elementary Education (54)
  • Nursing (53)
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice (45)

Most popular graduate degree programs:

  • Business Administration (46) 
  • Special Education programs (46) 
  • Music (34)
  • Sport and Exercise Science (28)
  • Educational Leadership (19)
  • School Psychology (19)
  • The spring class includes 35 undergraduate and graduate student athletes across the following programs: baseball, football, men’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, softball, swimming and diving, volleyball, women’s golf and women’s soccer. 
  • This class includes 54 United States veterans, 37 undergraduate students and 17 graduate students.  
  • Graduates come from 46 Colorado counties, 45 states and 21 countries.  
  • The youngest graduate this spring is 19 years old and the oldest is 66. 
  • The College of Natural and Health Sciences graduated the largest number of undergraduate students (260), followed by the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences (200), College of Humanities and Social Sciences (193), the College of Performing and Visual Arts (107) and the Monfort College of Business (98). 
  • The College of Education and Behavioral Sciences graduated the largest number of graduate students (178), followed by College of Natural and Health Sciences (111), Monfort College of Business (46), College of Performing and Visual Arts (34) and College of Humanities and Social Sciences (20). 
  • UNC awarded the highest number of undergraduate degrees in the past five years in these areas: Musical Theatre (18) and English Secondary Education (16), and the number of graduate degrees awarded in Music (34), Clinical Mental Health Counseling (21) and Biological Sciences (16).

With the spring 2024 graduating class, UNC now has more than 141,600 living alumni living and working in all 50 states and more than 89 countries. 

Data about UNC’s spring 2024 class is preliminary and based on demographics of students who have applied to graduate as of April 12, 2024. Degrees are officially conferred June 2024. 

Graduate Commencement Student Speakers

 Melissa Lafferty.

Melissa Lafferty 

College of Education and Behavioral Sciences 
Doctor of Philosophy, Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership 

Melissa Lafferty is a first-generation student from Bismarck, North Dakota, with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Eastern Illinois University. She currently works as the Finish What You Started re-engagement coordinator at Colorado State University, where she also serves on the Center for Mindfulness Leadership Team. Lafferty is committed to improving access to higher education and creating positive, inclusive environments through mindful leadership.  

Nia Renee Connolly

Nia Renee Connolly 

Monfort College of Business 
Master of Business Administration, Human Resources concentration 

Nia Renee Connolly, founder of How To Love A Battered Woman, LLC., ignites transformation as a certified motivational speaker, relationship coach and author. With unwavering dedication, she empowers individuals to overcome adversity, fostering resilience and growth. As a proud wife, Connolly embodies the values of love, compassion and strength in both her personal and professional life. Her journey epitomizes the power of perseverance and the ability to rise above challenges. Through her inspirational work, Connolly inspires others to embrace their potential, cultivate healthy relationships and pursue their dreams with courage and conviction. 

Undergraduate Commencement Student Speakers 

Jenessa Hamm

Jenessa Hamm 

College of Education and Behavioral Sciences 
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology 

Jenessa Hamm is graduating with a bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Human Services. She is a Colorado native and is excited for what the world has to offer after graduation. Hamm has been inspired and motivated from a young age to go to college and pursue a degree in psychology. Life circumstances were challenging, but in the face of that, she was fortunate enough to have support. While she was at UNC, Hammwas a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, attended Gender and Sexuality Resource Center events and meetings and multi-cultural events. After graduation, she plans to explore the world via traveling, and pursue a master's degree in social work. 

Madison Gremillion

Madison Gremillion 

College of Natural and Health Sciences 
Bachelor of Science, Biological Sciences — Pre-health and Biomedical Sciences concentration 

Madison Gremillion is a non-traditional Honors student graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences on the pre-med path. Gremillion’sHonors thesis, titled, "End-of-Life Patient Communication: Exploring Comfort, Communication and Education of Healthcare Professionals for End-of-Life Care" was awarded the Portz Interdisciplinary Fellowship through the National Collegiate Honors Council in 2022. Gremillion hopes to contribute to the growing body of research shedding light on the importance of empathy-based practice as she continues in the Master of Public Health program at the Colorado School of Public Health at UNC in fall 2024. She later plans to pursue a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program.  

Cesar Rosales Cordova.

Cesar Rosales Cordova 

College of Humanities and Social Sciences 
Bachelor of Arts, Economics — Public Policy concentration 

Cesar Alejandro Rosales Cordova is a queer first-generation Latinx student born and raised in Colorado with a passion for helping others. He is graduating with a bachelor's degree in Economics and two minors, thefirst in Mexican American Studies and the second in Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy. At UNC, Rosales Cordova has enjoyed working with organizations such as the Office of Health Promotion, Earth Guardians, Student Affairs, Student Government and the College of Performing and Visual Arts. In the future, Rosales Cordova aims to earn his master's degree in public health and continue to help and empower his community 

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