The University of Nebraska–Lincoln conferred 588 degrees during the combined graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremony Aug. 12 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The 583 graduates are from 33 countries; 35 U.S. states and Puerto Rico; and more than 60 Nebraska communities.
“We are here to celebrate your remarkable achievements, perseverance and dedication that have brought you to this significant milestone in your lives,” said Chancellor Rodney Bennett, presiding over his first commencement ceremony at Nebraska. “You have spent years of hard work and countless hours of studying, and today marks the culmination of your academic journey. We are so proud of each one of you.”
Regent Tim Clare shared a quote by President Abraham Lincoln, who once said “I prepare myself, as someday my chance will come.” Clare emphasized to the graduates that their chance had arrived.
“You are now in an excellent position to … further your education, begin a successful career, improve the quality of life for you and your family, and give back to the communities in which you will live and work,” he said. “I commend each of you for making the very wise decision to pursue higher education so that your chance will come. I am confident that the decision you made will pay off for the rest of your lives, no matter which direction you go.”
Among the graduates was Nick Angelos, who earned a master’s degree through the Paraeducator-to-Teacher program offered by the College of Education and Human Sciences. The partnership between the university and Omaha Public Schools provides a path for paraeducators to earn their teaching certificates and a master’s degree on a condensed timeline. It’s aimed at paras who already have bachelor’s degrees and who continue to work full-time. OPS covers all expenses.
Angelos, who worked in event production before becoming a paraeducator in January 2020, enrolled in graduate school in summer 2021. Along with its steadier employment and better pay, he saw the transition from paraeducator to teacher as a chance to advance both his education and his value to the community.
“I’ve always been a big believer that the second you think you’re done learning, you need to the most,” he said. “I’ve always believed I need to keep learning no matter what.”
Angelos, who took over his own classroom at Omaha’s Liberty Elementary School this past spring, said he enjoys the consistency of his new career over his previous one.
“You couldn’t even guarantee you were going to sleep in the same state from one day to the next,” he said. “Consistency is king for the kids, and going from a job where I didn’t have that consistency, I’d like to think I can appreciate it just as much as they can.” Read more.
Also graduating was Anna McLain, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the College of Business.
As an undergraduate accounting student, she worked full-time at a public accounting firm through the School of Accountancy’s split semester internship program. She will start her career as an audit associate at Forvis after helping the firm during the hectic tax season and through a summer of audits.
Through the internship program, Husker accounting students spend half a semester taking accelerated accounting courses and the other half interning at an accounting firm. The program provides a hands-on experience for students while allowing them to keep their full-time student status and not delay their graduation.
“Interning full time was wonderful as a student because I immersed myself fully,” McLain said. “I got to experience what an actual tax season was like so I knew what a tax career would be like after graduation.”
After internships at Forvis and HDR, McLain said she feels confident in her ability to thrive post-graduation.
“It’s all about learning how to be resilient, ask the right questions and develop new skill sets to succeed,” she said. “It’s something I’ll be applying in my career going forward, and I don’t know if I would have necessarily had that mindset had I not had these internships.” Read more.
The August graduating class earned three new Juris Doctor degrees, 337 other new graduate and professional degrees and 248 new baccalaureate degrees. The university has awarded 316,869 degrees since it was founded in 1869.