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University of Utah to Honor 2010 Diversity Graduates

May 4, 2010 — One of the largest graduating classes of underrepresented students in the University of Utah’s history will receive degrees during the 2010 graduation ceremony on Friday, May 7, at 9 a.m. in the Jon M. Huntsman Center. This year 373 underrepresented, self-identified students of color will graduate with 259 undergraduate degrees and 91 graduate degrees, with 13 and 10 students graduating in law and medicine respectively. The graduation procession will begin at 8:20 a.m. Tickets are not required.

In all, 19 African American, 19 American Indian, 144 Asian, 155 Latino/a, 18 Pacific Islander and 18 multi-racial students will receive their degrees. The graduates include 12 from the university’s Utah Opportunity Scholars (UOS) Program, which aids first-generation, underrepresented students and students with demonstrated financial need. The university’s class of 2010 consists of 7,034 graduates.

“These are significant accomplishments for this group of students, as well as an important milestone for the university,” said Octavio Villalpando, associate vice president, Office for Equity and Diversity. “These graduates have persevered and many have overcome great challenges in order to complete their education. The contributions they’ve made during their time at the university has made our campus and community a more rich and vibrant place in which to work and study. We are certain they will make valuable contributions to the future of our state and nation.”

Members of the 2010 graduating class of diverse students include: Sylvia Flater, a first-generation student who knew qualifying for a scholarship was the only way she would be able to attend college. She was awarded the Larry H. and Gail Miller Enrichment Scholarship. She will graduate with a Masters of Education in educational leadership and policy. She credits the University of Utah’s Center for Ethnic Student Affairs (CESA) as the “place where she finally found a sense of belonging” on campus.

Rondell Nelson has earned a Bachelor of Science in political science. He is a first-generation student who came to Utah from Guyana, South America, at the age of 14 after the death of his mother. He thanks his mentors at West High School and those at the university for helping him succeed. However, he says his mother is his “hero and best friend” and the catalyst for his success. “Now,” he said, “there is an infinite world of possibilities.”

Nichole Garcia will receive a Bachelor of University Studies in gendered-ethnic studies. She is proud of her Mexican/Puerto Rican heritage and overcoming the obstacles she faced coming to a predominately white campus. However, the experience, she says made her stronger and pushed her to succeed. She has been accepted into graduate school as a doctoral student in Chicanao Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Otis Bitsuie will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise and sport science. He had to make many sacrifices while working toward graduation and credits family, friends and community members on the Navajo reservation and on campus with supporting him toward success. He weathered the deaths of three family members while working toward his degree. He dedicates his degree to “those who are not here” and to the staff and students of CESA for helping him succeed.

Assistant Vice President of Student Equity and Diversity, Jennifer Williams Molock, congratulated the graduates at a celebration on April 22 saying, “All of what you did as a student will remain with you throughout your lives. Your stand for social justice, your concern for the environment, your dedication to academic excellence…you are now true knowledge holders.” She admonished the graduates, “No one can ever take away the knowledge you have gained, but share your knowledge; it is not for you to keep, but to pass on. Use it. You are now a college graduate. The responsibility is now before you.”

For more information about the 2010 diversity graduates or the Office for Equity and Diversity, please visit or call 801-581-4250.