Pinning, commissioning ceremonies highlight UT Arlington commencement week

News Release — 5 May 2011


Media contact: Bridget Lewis, (817) 272-3317,

ARLINGTON - Graduation Celebration highlights The University of Texas at Arlington commencement season on Friday, May 13, with speakers, music, fireworks and food at Levitt Pavilion in downtown Arlington. The free community event begins at 8 p.m. at the amphitheater, 100 W. Abram St., at the southwest corner of Abram and Center streets.

John LegendJohn Legend, Grammy Award winning singer and musician, is the keynote speaker. UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo, and Kate Aoki, who will earn her master of art in architecture this month, also are scheduled to give remarks.

Commencement ceremonies for UT Arlington’s academic schools and colleges will be held May 12-15 at Texas Hall, 701 W. Nedderman Drive. The academic ceremonies include some very visual traditions.

  • The College of Nursing will hold two pinning ceremonies on Thursday, May 12, at the Bluebonnet Ballroom of the E.H. Hereford University Center. Nursing graduates choose a friend, family member, significant other or nursing mentor to pin them with the UT Arlington nursing emblem. The ceremony for the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) graduates is at 9:30 a.m. The ceremony for RN to BSN graduates is at 2 p.m.
  • Military science graduates become U.S. Army officers during their commissioning ceremony scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 14, in the Bluebonnet Ballroom. After graduation, they will enter The Basic Officer Leadership Course at installations across the country.
  • The College of Engineering's procession of graduates starts at Nedderman Hall, 416 S. Yates St., and ends at Texas Hall. The ceremonial parade starts 10 minutes before the two commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, May 14.

Notable graduates

In what is expected to be the largest class ever, more than 3,700 students are set to earn degrees from UT Arlington this May. That sum includes 2,600 undergraduates, 1,059 master’s candidates and 74 doctoral scholars. Among them:

  • Kate Aoki, this year's Graduation Celebration student speaker, plans to use her master’s degree in architecture to follow in her family’s footsteps. She comes from a long line of Japanese artists. Her great-grandfather was a silk-stitch artist, her father is a set designer and painter, and her brother will soon begin studying urban planning. She came to UT Arlington because of its outstanding reputation in architecture, and says she has been deeply impressed by all the good that alums have done. She has already been offered a post-graduation job at a Dallas architecture firm. Her goal is to design quality housing for the poor.
  • Shannon Brunskill walked away from a long career in the airline industry and into something decidedly more creative. She entered UT Arlington after Googling “glass art” on the Internet and learning about the University’s renowned glass art program. Since then, Brunskill has been internationally recognized for her glass work. After graduation, she will board a plane to Instanbul where she has been invited to serve as a summer teaching assistant in an internationally known glass art program. After returning to North Texas, she plans to open an art studio with a fellow UT Arlington graduate.
  • Brandon Crider broke his neck and severed his spinal cord in a car crash 10 years ago; the accident cost him the use of his legs. Crider came to UT Arlington to play wheelchair basketball and is now working to make the national team in quad rugby. Though he is a competitor, Crider says his time at the University has given him much more than just the ability to compete at a high level. He also became a scholar through the pursuit of his bachelor’s degree in psychology. This honors student intends to attend law school after graduation.    
  • Neri Sandoval began his college career at UT Austin but soon realized there was no place like home. The Mexico native, who was raised in Dallas, soon transferred to UT Arlington and found success in the Honors College. After earning his bachelor’s degree in English, Sandoval plans to enroll in graduate school at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he has received the Presidential Fellowship Award and will work toward a PhD in English. It’s a dream come true for a young man who says he once feared he wasn’t “cut out” to major in English because his native language was Spanish. He calls the support he has received from UT Arlington professors “life changing.”

Media representatives who are interested in stories about any of the graduates highlighted above may call the UT Arlington Media Relations Office at 817-272-2761.

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of 33,800 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit to learn more.


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