UMBC honors over 1,000 new graduates at 2015 Winter Commencement

UMBC celebrated the accomplishments of over 1,000 new Retriever alumni at 2015 Winter Commencement, with a graduate ceremony held on December 16 and undergraduate ceremony on December 17.

The ceremonies included representatives from UMBC faculty, staff, student, and alumni leadership, as well as the University System of Maryland Board of Regents. UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski shared more than a dozen inspiring stories of accomplishment, highlighting graduates who have achieved great things, often despite significant challenges in their lives and while balancing personal and professional commitments.

These graduates included students like Muntadar Al-Luwaim ’15, design, a deaf student from Saudi Arabia who welcomed the challenge of mastering two new languages, English and American Sign Language. He has helped build a welcoming community at UMBC for other deaf and hard of hearing students, and plans to develop his own design studio in Saudi Arabia.

Muntadar Al-Luwaim '15, design, is recognized by Pres. Hrabowski during Undergraduate Commencement
Muntadar Al-Luwaim is recognized by Pres. Hrabowski during Undergraduate Commencement.

Fellow graduate Wafa Raja ’15, information systems, came to the United States with her family eight years ago to pursue an education, but felt pressure to marry and return to Pakistan. Yearning to continue her education, she returned to the U.S. and enrolled in community college, while working and raising her young daughter. She soon transferred to UMBC, where she became both a Cyber Scholar and a Newcombe Scholar, and has shown a remarkable commitment to mentoring other students. She will work for Northrop Grumman as a cyber intelligence analyst.

Wafa Raja is recognized by Pres. Hrabowski during Undergraduate Commencement.

During the UMBC Graduate School commencement, President Hrabowski recognized Erika Nesvold ’15 Ph.D, physics, who “spends her days thinking about asteroids smashing into each other.” She has accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the Carnegie Institute of Washington and, in her free time, is a volunteer firefighter and EMT.

Erika Nesvold is honored by Pres. Hrabowski during Graduate Commencement.
Erika Nesvold is recognized by Pres. Hrabowski during Graduate Commencement.

Nichole Zang Do ’15 M.A., history, has explored the history of the juvenile justice movement in Baltimore, focusing on understanding the use and misuse of juvenile reform institutions. She will support UMBC’s upcoming 50th anniversary celebrations through alumni outreach.

Nichole Zang Do is recognized by Pres. Hrabowski during Graduate Commencement.
Nichole Zang Do is recognized by Pres. Hrabowski during Graduate Commencement.

“The point of these stories is that every one of you indeed has a story,” President Hrabowski reflected, sharing that for each student the path to their degree “has not been easy.”

UMBC is proud to honor all of the students who received graduate and undergraduate degrees in Winter 2015.

Videos of the ceremonies will be available soon on the UMBC Commencement website. The ceremonies were also live-tweeted @UMBC, with posts available through #UMBCgrad. For additional photos, see our Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement galleries on Facebook.

Images: All photos are by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.