Pacific University Spring Commencements Set for Saturday, May 18

Pacific University will confer degrees on nearly 900 students during its spring commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 18, at Hanson Stadium on the Forest Grove Campus.

An undergraduate ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m., followed by the graduate and professional ceremony at 1:30 p.m. No tickets are required to attend the free events, and additional guest information is available online.

Commencement at Pacific marks the culmination of years of study by Pacific students and the beginning of their next steps toward careers, graduate school or professional advancement. About half of the graduating students will receive bachelor’s degrees in the morning after studying in more than 60 majors and minors offered by the university’s colleges of Arts & Sciences, Business and Education.

They include students like Charli Ann Elliott, this year’s undergraduate valedictorian. Elliott, a creative writing major and basketball player from Seattle, said she came to Pacific because it offered everything she wanted in a college experience: the opportunity to play intercollegiate athletics and study abroad while mastering the craft of the written word. She is currently in the midst of writing her first novel and plans to teach English overseas, likely in Taiwan, before pursuing an advanced degree in writing.

Pacific is committed to inspiring students to think, care, create and pursue justice in the world — and Elliott is just one of many Class of 2019 graduates who intend to pay their education forward by working for the benefit of the global community.

Others include criminal justice, society and law major Jenna Richards, currently an intern with Metropolitan Public Defender, who plans to enter law school to further her passion for reforming the criminal justice system. Creative writing major Kelsi Roth hopes her writing will inspire others to open themselves up to strengthen relationships and better understand the human condition.

And chemistry majors Keilian MacCulloch and Hoan Nguyen will continue to pursue scientific advancements in graduate school after spending their undergraduate years trying to develop a molecular technique for purifying natural gas. Pacific is the No. 1 private research university in the Northwest, affording undergraduates rare hands-on research opportunities.

The other half of Pacific’s graduates on May 18 will receive graduate and professional degrees from programs throughout the colleges of Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, Health Professions, and Optometry. The largest contingent will be from the School of Pharmacy, which will confer doctoral degrees on more than 100 candidates and will also award its first master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences to Heather True PharmD ’18 of Port Orchard, Wash.

True earned her PharmD degree in 2018 and was attracted by the additional skills and knowledge set the master's in pharmaceutical sciences provides. "This program has enabled me to master new lab techniques, learn how to teach curriculum to current pharmacy students and refine my presentation abilities, as well as my scientific writing, critical thinking and public speaking skills," she said. "It has provided me with the experience and confidence I need to pursue a PhD with an emphasis on clinical and experimental therapeutics," she said.

Graduate and professional degrees also will be awarded in athletic training, business administration, optometry, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, social work, and teaching and education.

Also May 18, Pacific will award its second honorary degree in as many years during the morning ceremony, as alumna and longtime university supporter Mary Fair Berglund '58 will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters. She, valedictorian Elliott, and Music Professor Dr. Michael Burch-Pesses will all deliver remarks during the morning ceremony.

In the afternoon, the university will bestow its annual Kamelia Massih Prize for a Distinguished Optometrist on alumna and faculty emerita Nada Lingel '79, OD '81, MS '88, '00, who will serve as the afternoon keynote speaker.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019