by Kate Hickman
As this unique and challenging school year comes to a close, UVU celebrates Class of 2021 as begin awarded the greatest number of degrees in the university’s history! Convocation and commencement will take place on May 7, 2021 in a first of its kind “drive-thru” and “drive-in” style ceremony, where graduates will line up in their cars and pull up to receive their diplomas with times varying based on college. Afterward, participants can enjoy the festivities from their car (one car permitted per graduate) which will end with a fireworks show at 9:15 pm. Those who cannot attend in person can view commencement as it’s live-streamed from campus beginning at 8:15 pm via this YouTube link.
The graduating class of 2021 consists of 8,729 graduates that will earn 10,443 degrees. These numbers have risen from 9,461 graduates earning 9,917 degrees in 2020 and from 4,896 graduates with 5,107 degrees in 2016. Thus, since last academic year, the ratio of degrees to students has risen from 1.04 to 1.19 and, over the course of five years, the number of degrees awarded has doubled!
In addition to receiving the greatest number of degrees, Class of 2021 is also one of the most diverse. According to the Senior Director of Communications, Scott Trotter, “The youngest graduate is 16 and the oldest is 68, 18% are students of color, 35% are first generation, and 45% are age 25 or older.” In 2016, only 13% were minorities and 57% were 25 or older according to UVU’s Institutional Research. The change in the minority demographics in tandem with the high graduation rate of non-traditional students truly reflects a primary tenet of the university: “UVU has a place for you.” The school continues to practice this value of exceptional care by increasing the accessibility of quality education to a wide variety of community members.
As the largest public university in Utah with over 40,000 students, UVU has prioritized “student success, engaged learning, rigorous academic programs, and faculty-mentored research.” This is part of their “Dual-mission” initiative which is “transforming higher education by making it more affordable and accessible to students of all backgrounds.” One of the desired outcomes of this initiative is to support student success, even beyond graduation, by preparing them to become “ethical professionals, lifelong learners, and engaged citizens.”
The fruits of these labors have been recognized by GradReports, among others, ranking UVU the #1 college in Utah for alumni earnings, with the University of Utah in second place and Brigham Young University coming in third. All three of these universities were placed above the median alumni earnings for colleges in the United States. This means that graduates from UVU tend to earn a higher salary in their first year out of college than graduates in the same major from surrounding universities.
When asked about his final year as a senior at UVU during the pandemic, Aziz Alfahad stated, “It was a different experience because I’m an international student… It wasn’t easy but I learned a lot more about visual learning through a virtual platform.” Alfahad will be graduating in Information Technology, and hopes to share the knowledge he’s gained with communities in his home country. He anticipates that the skills he’s acquired through this challenging year have better prepared him to secure a career in his field.
During a time when many aspects of life have been uncertain and difficult, UVU has stepped up to improve processes, accessibility and success metrics. With UVU’s institutional goals and these promising results in mind, the Class of 2021 can take a deep breath and pat themselves on the back for the hard work they’ve done. Graduates can be confident in the future that lies ahead and be proud to be a wolverine!