FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Over the weekend, Northern Arizona University held its 2009 commencement ceremonies at the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome. Approximately 3,000 degree candidates took part in the commencements. NAU recognized John W. Murphy for his commitment and contribution to education and the community by bestowing upon him an honorary doctoral degree. Also receiving an honorary doctoral degree were Steven R. Altman of Tucson, a 1983 graduate of NAU; J. Thomas Montfort of Flagstaff and Sara J. Baird, who was also selected as "Arizona's Teacher of the Year."
Opening remarks were provided the by the commencement's Master of Ceremonies Liz Grobsmith, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The College of Arts and Letters graduating students sang the National Anthem.
Among the graduates were 221 Native American degree recipients. The Navajo Nation had the largest representation, while other Native American tribes and representatives included Acoma Pueblo, Ak-Chin Indian Community, Aleut Alaskan, Cherokee, Choctaw, Cocopah, Creek, Delaware, Hopi, Iroquois, Laguna Pueblo, Lakota, Oneida, Pascua Yaqui, Pima-Maricopa, San Carlos Apache, San Juan Tewa, Sioux Nation, Standing Rock Sioux, White Mountain Apache and Zuni.
The Native American Student Services (NASS) of the Northern Arizona University hosted the 14th Annual Native American Convocation and Awards Ceremony prior to the commencement services. A handmade commemorative ivory sash was given to each degree candidate as a gift and for their hard work. The sash was decorated with blue and gold fringes with a logo drawn by Ronald Redsteer, The logo and design with the San Francisco Peaks, White Mountains, Monument Valley and the southern desert country, including the eagle and feathers, represents the student's courage, persistence and wisdom to succeed.
The convocation and awards ceremony is a cultural celebration, recognizing the achievements and accomplishments of the Native American graduates, emphasizing the importance of the Native American traditions and providing an opportunity to bring family, friends, and tribal leadership together.
The Outstanding Graduating Senior Award was given to Rosanna Jumbo, Navajo, Construction Management. Other nominees were: Crystal Becenti - Psychology (Navajo), Cecilia Estudillo - Elementary Education (Laguna Pueblo), Jophina Joe - Psychology (Navajo), Devan Lomayaoma - Health Science Physical Education and School Health (Hopi), Diana Martinez - Liberal Studies with an Emphasis in Organizational Communication, Mary Roanhorse - Psychology, Criminology and Criminal Justice (Navajo) and Augustina Clark - Nursing (Navajo).
The Outstanding Graduate Student Award was given to Louise LaPahe, Hopi, who graduated with a masters in Elementary Education. Receiving the Louis H. and Betty W. Quayle scholarships, were Graylynn Hudson - Doctorate in Educational Psychology (Navajo) and Lupe Esparza - Master in Administration (Pascua Yaqui).
The Olsen Family Foundation Scholarship recipient was Renee Tolino - Master in Elementary Education, Teaching and Learning.
Congratulations go to all the award recipients and nominees and to the NAU graduating class of 2009.