Former Lieutenant Governor Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, a University of Alaska Southeast graduate, will deliver the UAS commencement speech in Juneau on May 5. (Courtesy photo | University of Alaska Southeast)

Former Lieutenant Governor Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, a University of Alaska Southeast graduate, will deliver the UAS commencement speech in Juneau on May 5. (Courtesy photo | University of Alaska Southeast)

Former lieutenant governor to give speech at UAS commencement

Hundreds of students around Southeast will be honored, celebrated

Some University of Alaska Southeast students are just a couple weeks away from earning their degrees, with commencement taking place the first weekend of May.

Commencement in Sitka takes place Friday, May 3, Ketchikan on Saturday, May 4, and Juneau’s event is Sunday, May 5. At the Juneau event, former Lieutenant Governor (and UAS graduate) Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson will deliver the commencement address.

Davidson has served as Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health & Social Services, and served as the first Alaska Native female lieutenant governor in the final weeks of the Walker administration. The speaker for Sitka will be local veterinarian and Meritorious Service Award recipient Burgess Bauder. The Ketchikan Campus commencement speaker will be Assembly member Amanda “AJ” Pierce.

The Juneau commencement takes place at 2 p.m. May 5 at the UAS Rec Center. Prior to that, at 11 a.m., the annual Alaska Native Graduation is taking place at the Egan Library, hosted by the UAS Native & Rural Student Center.

[New lieutenant governor opens Alaska Federation of Natives Conference]

UAS expects to award 399 associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees, 97 certificates and professional licensures, and 223 occupational endorsements, according to a UAS release. UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield and other university officials will be at all three commencement ceremonies.

“We are enormously proud of our graduates at all three UAS campuses,” Caulfield said in the release. “Many of our students are first-generation college students and are completing their degree while raising a family and working one or two jobs.”

A catered reception in the Lakeside Grill in the Mourant building will follow the 2 p.m. commencement. Shuttle service will be available from the main campus parking area to the Rec Center. The event will be live streamed on the University of Alaska Southeast YouTube channel.

Graduating senior Nick Bursell, the student government president, is the student speaker at the Juneau commencement. Bursell is from Juneau and is completing a degree in English with a Creative Writing emphasis. He has completed the Ted Stevens Legislative Internship Program at UAS and has participated in National Student Exchange.

Several community members will also be honored this year. In Juneau, Richard Carstensen will be recognized with an Honorary Doctorate of Science. Meritorious Service Awards will be presented in Juneau to Alison Browne, Sally Smith, Cheryl Samuel, and Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy, and in Sitka to Burgess Bauder.

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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