College commencements now have hashtags.
Saturday at the Thomas &Mack Center, UNLV’s 2,700 graduates and their supporters were urged to share their experiences online using #UNLVGrad.
Hundreds of photos and messages quickly appeared on Instagram and Twitter:
“I feel like a wizard in this getup,” tweeted @WOLVERTRON in his cap and gown. “I mean, more so than I normally do…”
“J.D., baby!!!” tweeted @tamaraiou.
@JnelleBelle thanked her family: “Today I’m a #UNLVGrad thanks mom &dad!!!!”
“THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT! CONGRATS, BRO!” tweeted @neilsonJOE.
University President Don Snyder highlighted the profile of the class, which is 56 percent female and 47 percent minority.
Spring 2014’s youngest graduate is 18 years old, and it’s oldest is 71 — a fact that drew loud applause. Twenty-six and 31 are the average ages of those who earned bachelor’s and graduate degrees, for an overall average of 28-years-old.
Eighty-five percent of graduates are Nevada residents, though students come from 37 states and 61 countries.
“A college degree is proof to the world that you have taken this responsibility very seriously,” said Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Page. “It’s the mature proof that you not only believe in yourself, you believe in your future.”
Student speaker and golfer Charlotte Brooks put her college journey in the context of her sport.
“We’re standing on the 18th green, ready to sink our final putts,” Brooks said to the class of 2014.
Five students were chosen as outstanding students by the university, receiving degrees in dental medicine, secondary education, German, biology and a double-major in political science and English.
Kylie Wassell and Spencer Armuth were honored in the morning ceremony. Schools were divided into two ceremonies, one at 9 a.m., another at 2 p.m.
Wassell entered UNLV at age 17 as a starting goalie. She graduated with a GPA of 3.7 — the highest of any UNLV athlete.
She is the first female UNLV soccer player to earn academic All-America honors and is one of 30 women nominated for a 2013 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate soccer for her work on the field, in the classroom and in the community.
Wassell earned a bachelor’s of science in secondary education and will teach eighth-grade math at Fremont Middle School this fall.
Armuth became a doctor of dental medicine, and is an advocate for the profession.
He has worked for U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, was president of the School of Dental Medicine for three years and is a legislative coordinator for the UNLV chapter of the American Student Dental Association, among other work.
This summer, Armuth will begin a six-year residency at Louisiana State University, where he will study oral surgery.
Bradley Davey, Robin Gonzales and Mike Webber were honored in the afternoon.
Davey, an honors student, majored in German and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Called a “Renaissance man” by UNLV, Davey is able to translate 300-page German books and is a student of science.
Davey’s journey wasn’t always easy, however. He dropped out of high school and began his college career at age 21.
This summer, he will travel to Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English.
Michael Webber earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences. She studies bark scorpions and sidewinder rattlesnakes and, with UNLV graduate student Matthew Graham, discovered a new scorpion species from Death Valley.
“I knew I wanted to work with animals,” said Webber, who also earned a bachelor’s of biology from UNLV.
Webber has been published in seven research journals and plans to teach invertebrate zoology. She wants to remain in academia or do outreach work, spreading her love of science to laymen.
Gonzales, a native of the Philippines, double-majored in English and political science and is one of the first to earn UNLV’s Brooking Public Policy minor, which focuses on domestic and international policy.
“The Brookings minor complimented my degree because it gives you a perspective of the real world,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales hopes to spend the next year completing a congressional internship and studying for the LSAT. In law school he hopes to study international or transnational law.
Gonzales is an honors student who served as student body chief justice and recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative University, a quorum of leaders seeking to solve global problems.
“I came here four or five years ago. At first, UNLV wasn’t my first choice, but I think now it’s been the best experience. It’s been a great opportunity. I’ve learned so much,” he said.
“If you receive the opportunities wherever you’re enrolled, you can use those skills and talents to make a difference in the world.”
UNLV supporter Fred Cox was honored with an honorary doctorate, and Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani received the President’s Award.
Former state senator Raymond Rawson, former regent Carolyn Sparks, businesspeople Monte and Susan Miller, UNLV donors Michael and Sonja Saltman and Las Vegas attorney Bret Whipple were honored as distinguished Nevadans.
Contact reporter Kristy Totten at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3809. Follow @kristy_tea on Twitter.