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UTA celebrates record number of graduates with December 2015 commencement ceremonies

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 • Media Contact: Herb Booth

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ARLINGTON, Texas – More than 6,500 students will receive their degrees during winter commencement exercises Dec. 17-19 at The University of Texas at Arlington’s College Park Center – and UTA is on its way to another record-breaking year for graduates.

Commencement December 2015

More than 6,500 students will be awarded degrees this month at The University of Texas at Arlington commencement ceremonies Dec. 17-19.

December ceremonies are tailored for graduates who complete their degrees in summer or fall. They represent more than half the students expected to earn degrees from UTA during the 2015-16 academic year.

UTA surpassed a milestone in the 2014-15 academic year, awarding 10,585 degrees. The upward trajectory is expected to continue. The graduates join the ranks of more than 200,000 UTA alumni around the globe, many working in engineering, health care, business, education, information technology, and other high-demand fields.

“These numbers represent the enormous impact that UTA graduates are having on the regional economy,” said Texas Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills. “The University has become a leading source of talent and human capital in the region, the state and the country.”

While the overall numbers are staggering, the stories behind the graduates are individually moving. They include:

  • Arati Maleku, who is earning her Ph.D in social work. Maleku was instrumental in launching the Nepal Rising Earthquake Relief Fund campaign with supporters around the United States while completing her doctoral dissertation. She is currently co-leading the global Nepal Rising efforts to connect resources, raise funds and advocate for the survivors of the April 2015 earthquake. Maleku received a highly competitive honorable mention from the international Society for Social Work and Research for her dissertation. Members hail from 45 states, 16 countries and include more than 200 higher education institutions.
  • Wade Nedderman, a biology graduate and grandson of former UTA President Wendell Nedderman. Though once diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Wade Nedderman participated in the highly competitive UTA-Texas Health Resources Pre-Medical Preceptorship Program and has interviewed at seven medical schools to date. He credits mentors he met at UTA with his academic success.
  • Ali Alrubaiee, an Iraqi native who once worked as a translator for the U.S. Army. Recommended for a visa by the servicemen with whom he worked, Alrubaiee moved to the states, eventually enrolling in UTA to pursue his nursing degree. Today, he works for the Veterans Administration and remains passionate about helping immigrant pursue a better life in this country. See Ali's video story here.
  • Garret Bubela, a paramedic in Houston, who has completed UTA’s Off Campus Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Bubela has juggled work, family and long commutes to various clinical sites where he performed hours needed for his degree. While at UTA, Bubela earned three awards of clinical excellence in Med-Surg, Childbearing, and Family and Community Health. He will be inducted into Sigma Theta Tau honor society and is graduating with Cum Laude honors.
  • Pender Morrow, a pre-dental student who will graduate with a degree in biochemistry. An Aledo resident, Morrow attended Weatherford College before transferring to UTA, where he has been heavily involved in the Pre-Dental Society. While attending UTA, Morrow worked in the local community to improve oral health. After graduation, Morrow will attend UT Health Science Center-San Antonio School of Dentistry.
  • Randi Burns will graduate with a degree in interdisciplinary studies. Originally a cheerleader at UTA in 1998, Randi’s life took a series of twists and turns, including a painful seven-year battle with Lyme disease, but she’s regained strength and re-discovered UTA. See Randi's video story here.
  • Amber Harrington completed her master’s degree in Curriculum and Development in Mathematics via UTA’s online program. She currently lives in Papua New Guinea, a territory in Indonesia, and completed her Masters in Curriculum and Development in Mathematics via UTA’s online program.

Media representatives may call the UT Arlington Media Relations Office at 817-272-2761 to arrange interviews with 2015 graduates.

December 2015 speakers at commencement ceremonies are:

  • College of Nursing and Health Innovations - Dr. Joan Clark, Senior Vice President/Chief Nurse Executive, Texas Health Resources
  • College of Business - Jeanne Smith Partner, Tax and Strategic Business Services, Weaver
  • College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs - Gail Thomas, Ph.D., President and CEO, The Trinity Trust Foundation
  • College of Education - Mr. Jim Nelson Counsel, Thompson & Horton LLP
  • College of Engineering - Sean Donohue, CEO, DFW International Airport
  • College of Liberal Arts - Mr. Jeff Leuschel, ’77, Partner, McCall, Parkhurst, & Horton LLP
  • College of Science - Michael J. Sakowski, M.D. ’66 B.S., Biology Chief of Anesthesiology, THR Arlington Memorial Hospital

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a “Best for Vets” college by Military Times magazine. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at