UNT graduates excel, thrive despite pandemic

Monday, May 4, 2020 - 16:09

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DENTON (UNT), Texas — While this spring’s University of North Texas graduates are facing unprecedented global events, each of them has risen to meet challenges they could never have imagined when they began their college journey.

Despite all classes moving online, events and ceremonies – including commencement – being postponed or cancelled and grocery shopping complicated with layers of protective gear and handwashing, graduates of Spring 2020 are achieving their goals and working to make the world a better place.

More than 4,800 UNT students are expected to receive their bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees via mail in the coming months.

A ceremony or celebration for the UNT Spring 2020 graduates will take place at a future date.

Commencement story Ideas: For interviews, contact Trista Moxley at Trista.Moxley@unt.edu. For UNT commencement coverage, stories of interest include:

Jennifer Washam’s college journey was put on hold in 2004 when she got word that her then-boyfriend U.S. Army Sergeant Joe Washam had been badly burned in an explosion in Iraq. Caring for him was her priority. Sixteen years later, the interdisciplinary studies major is graduating summa cum laude with the support of her husband and 10-year-old son. She will start teaching at an elementary school in the fall, fulfilling a dream she’s had since first grade.

Tiffani Price hopes to use her experience and degree in behavior analysis to grow GloryB, a nonprofit she founded that assists survivors of human trafficking with rebuilding their lives – a journey that she has experienced herself. Despite self-doubt, needed semesters off, dyslexia and dysgraphia, she remembered the promise she’d made to herself – to get her degree no matter how long it took.

Nikki Lyssy first heard about UNT in March 2014 when she won the Barbara Jordan Media Award for a newspaper column she wrote about her first and only experience parasailing as a person who is blind. Since then, she’s had several essays published and hopes to use her creative writing major to pen a memoir and teach.

Eric Fox always wanted to be a pilot. He combined that dream with a degree in computer science and a desire to join the U.S. Air Force, leading him to excel in ROTC and on campus. After receiving his degree, Fox will head to Sheppard Air Force Base, where he is one of only 50 pilots chosen for the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program, a premier flight training wing and the world’s only internationally manned and managed pilot training program dedicated to building relationships and training fighter pilots for 14 NATO nations.

Juan De Jesus Barroso uses his ceramics and paintings to pay tribute to would-be migrants and immigrants, like his own family who have become American citizens. Although already an established artist and teaching assistant, he hopes to use his degree in ceramics to teach. Much of his work is inspired by his parents, and many pieces are meant to give voice to the millions of Latinx people who risk their lives in the search for refuge in the United States.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Media Contacts:

Trista Moxley