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Winter Commencement 2022: ‘Today we are excited about the prospect of living in a world where you lead the way’ – Nevada Today

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Held on Saturday at Lawlor Events Center, the two ceremonies saw 1,987 degrees and certificates conferred, and featured words from President Brian Sandoval that encouraged the Class of 2022 to remain personally invested in their communities.
“We realize that the world is so much bigger than one person, and that we must work together for all of the parts to come together in the way they were meant to be,” Sandoval said. “In my visits with many of you, I’ve come to realize that although the world is far from perfect, you are all-in, committed to improving it.
“You now know how to build community and make it better. This is the wonder of the Wolf Pack Way. We have an incredible opportunity before us. Nevada is at a turning point, as is our country and the entire world. What we need right now, more than ever, are all of you – graduates of the University of Nevada, Reno.
“Today we are excited about the prospect of living in a world where you, graduates of our amazing university, lead the way.”
Sandoval praised the graduates for the resiliency and determination they had demonstrated throughout their time as students.
“As students, you didn’t shy away from the challenges,” he said. “You kept going. You saw the opportunity that the beautiful Silver Gates of this University offered. You made each day here your own. And most importantly you shared it, so that others could also shine. If there is one super power in the world today, it is our power to commit to one another so that all can benefit. This is what you possess. This is who you are.
“This is how you build a legacy. You are now part of a 148-year history. The degree you receive today now joins the approximately 124,961 degrees that the University has conferred since 1874. This speaks to the proud traditions of service, involvement, giving back, and helping others, that is at the heart of our University’s greatest and most lasting achievements.
“It is the silver thread that connects us all.”
ASUN President Dionne Stanfill touched on both the past and the present during her address to the Class of 2022.
“From the University’s first class of seven students in 1874 who studied mining, agriculture, or mechanic arts, to you, the graduating class of 2022 who have studied in  over 460-plus programs,” she said. “We have spent countless hours researching and weathered numerous unprecedented events to earn our priceless education. But there’s more that’s truly special here. … Today, you have become part of the University’s history. Your experiences on our campus have been documented by your memory of your very unique pathway that brought you to these seats today. And today is a celebration of you and your mark left on our historic campus. Wherever your education takes you, your experiences at our institution will stay here and will stay with you forever.
“And with whatever you decide to do with your education in the greater world, the University of Nevada Reno will be proud to have you in its history.”
Graduate Student Association President Matthew Hawn stressed the importance of what was learned during a person’s time as a student at the University. Even during times of challenge, Hawn said, there were opportunities to learn, to grow, and to continue to be involved.
“Together, we have learned how to act and to think anew,” Hawn said. “Whenever you have been challenged, your response, especially over the past few years, has been to renew your commitment to the public good and to develop innovative approaches to solve our most pressing challenges.
“Throughout your time here, you’ve reached out to our communities. You’ve reached out to your classmates. You’ve been unencumbered by the thinking of the past. In fact, you’ve always looked ahead. You’ve helped us all picture a more all-inclusive future … a future where every voice is heard, and every dream is valued.”
Cathy McAdoo, chair of the Nevada System of Higher Education, told those assembled that Saturday’s ceremony signified “the start of an exciting new chapter for all of you.”
“Once we conclude our ceremony this morning, degree in hand, it will become your destiny to help shape our future,” she said. “This will be northern Nevada’s future. Nevada’s future. This region’s future. Our nation’s future. Your education and the experiences you’ve had on this campus will help guide you on this important work.
“By virtue of being graduates of this great university, you will provide the humanity in harnessing the goodness of the human spirit; you will share the ingenuity and know-how needed for innovation; you will bring together our various communities and the people who are a part of them … because during your time here as students you’ve experienced the incredible power of collaboration, of teamwork, and of sharing and shaping the future … together.”
Winter Commencement also featured the presentation of the Herz Gold Medal award. The Herz Gold Medal is bestowed upon the graduating senior who has the highest University grade point average with the most letter-graded credits (beyond 120) that have been earned at the University.

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Elsie Childress was the 2022 Winter Commencement Herz Gold Medal recipient. Childress, from Garden City, Idaho, graduated with a double major in rangeland ecology and management and environmental science in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology (CABNR) and Natural Resources, and was a student in the Honors College.
She was a member of the University’s alpine ski team and represented the University at the U.S. Collegiate Ski Association National Championships three times. She was president of the largest club on campus, the Winter Sports Club, as well as CABNR Ambassadors.
As president of the Winter Sports Club, Childress created and launched the extremely successful Learn to Ski Program. In its first season, the program provided 20 low-income University student with free, full-day ski lessons. For her efforts with the Winter Sports Club, Childress was awarded ASUN’s Club Leader of the Year award in 2022.
Saturday’s two ceremonies featured more than 149 majors represented, and was the 30th anniversary of the first time the University ever held its Winter Commencement ceremony.
The first Winter Commencement was held on Saturday, Dec. 5, 1992 at Lawlor Events Center. During that first Winter Commencement ceremony about 200 students received their degrees The University had announced earlier that fall that the annual May ceremony the University Quadrangle had grown too large – with 1,200 degrees conferred and more than 12,000 people in attendance the previous May – thus necessitating a separate ceremony to be held in December for August and December graduates.
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