UNK graduates to be honored in two ceremonies, Dec. 17-18

Graduate exercises
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17
Where: UNK Health and Sports Center
Tickets: None required, but not open to general public

Undergraduate exercises
When: 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 18
Where: UNK Health and Sports Center
Tickets: 3 distributed to each graduating student; no public access without ticket

Social media: Follow @UNKearney and #lopergrad on Twitter to see photos and posts. Join in the #lopergrad conversation at http://unk.edu/eventdashboard

Live broadcast: Watch live on the internet at the link above. An overflow location for guests on campus is available in the Fine Arts Building or the Nebraskan Student Union for guests beyond the three-per-student limit (masks and social distancing required).


KEARNEY – For the first time, two commencement ceremonies will be held at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Graduate degrees for winter graduates will be conferred at a hooding ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, and undergraduate degrees will be conferred at exercises 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 18.

Both ceremonies will be at the UNK Health and Sports Center and will be conducted under approved health protocols because of COVID-19. Attendance in the indoor arena must be under 25% of capacity and masks will be required. Both events are open only to participants and invited guests, with ticket information below.

Chancellor Doug Kristensen will award degrees at both ceremonies, and University of Nebraska President Ted Carter will be in attendance.

Kim Carlson
Kim Carlson
Leidimar Ramirez
Leidimar Ramirez

Kim Carlson, professor of biology, will deliver the address at the graduate exercises. Carlson joined the UNK faculty in 2003. An alumna earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UNK, she earned her doctorate in biological sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her primary research areas are aging research, the OTK18 gene and Nora virus, which she conducts with her undergraduate students. She has received numerous teaching and research awards.

Leidimar Ramirez of Newport News, Virginia, will be the graduate student speaker. Ramirez teaches English as a second language in the public school system and college-level Spanish as an adjunct faculty in Newport News. A native of Venezuela, she taught English in her home country, and later, ESL in Kansas and Texas. She will be graduating with her second master’s degree, a Master of Arts in Education-Spanish Education.

There will be approximately 50 graduate students participating in the ceremony. Graduates will not need to obtain tickets, but should limit their invited guests to immediate family.

Jeffrey Gold
Jeffrey Gold
Paige Kristensen
Paige Kristensen

At the undergraduate exercises on Friday, Dr. Jeffrey Gold, chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center and University of Nebraska at Omaha, will deliver the address to approximately 250 participants. Gold has served at UNMC since 2014 and in his dual role at UNO since 2017. A cardiothoracic surgeon with specialty in pediatrics, he is a professor in the colleges of Public Health and Medicine at UNMC. Gold earned his bachelor’s degree in theoretical and applied mechanics from Cornell University, and his M.D. from the Weill Cornell College of Medicine.

Paige Kristensen of Minden will be the student speaker at the undergraduate ceremony. Nominated by faculty and selected by a committee for her leadership and involvement, she will graduate magna cum laude with majors in sports management and business administration. Some of her involvement and awards include UNK Alumni Association Outstanding Senior, William and Mary Jane Nester Student Leadership Award, Sports Management Major of the Year and Mortar Board. She has been involved in UNK Student Government, the Alpha Phi sorority, Panhellenic Council and Sports Administration Majors Club.

Because of health and safety restrictions, the undergraduate participants will each receive three tickets, distributed at rehearsal on Thursday. There will be no tickets distributed directly to the public or handed out early, and there will be no “will-call” pickup.

All participants in the ceremonies will be required to wear traditional commencement attire and face coverings. Participating students, personnel and guests will be asked to keep the required 6 feet of distance between groups. Individuals planning to attend are asked to monitor themselves for symptoms and stay at home if they are feeling ill or have been in recent contact with someone with COVID-19.

A livestream will be provided for an overflow crowd in the Fine Arts Recital Hall and the Nebraskan Student Union. Guests who are unable to attend in person may watch the ceremony via the livestream on UNK’s website. A recording can also be viewed later on the website.

Parking in the lots west and south of the Health and Sports Center is encouraged. Visitors with handicap permits can park east of the Health and Sports Center. Those transporting a handicapped person will have access to drop off the person on the east side of the complex but will need to move their vehicle to another lot.

Visitors with wheelchairs can sit in the corner seating sections on the main floor or use the elevator in the northeast corner of the building to sit in the designated section on the arena floor.

Graduates who have questions that aren’t answered on the commencement website should call the Registrar’s Office at 308-865-8527 or email unkregistrar@unk.edu.