by Max Brantley
UALR NEWS RELEASE
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 14, 2007) – Nearly 1,400 seniors and graduate students have applied to graduate from UALR his spring, including hundreds planning to walk across the stage at the Jack Stephens Center on Saturday, May 19, to receive their degrees.
Graduates of the colleges of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Education, and Professional Studies will attend the 10 a.m. ceremony. Graduates of the colleges of Business, Math and Science, and Information Science and Systems Engineering will attend the 2 p.m. event. About 131 law students have applied to graduate from the William H. Bowen School of Law. Hooding ceremonies for law students will be at 1:30 p.m. at the Statehouse Convention Center Ballroom.
The big stars at commencement will be the graduates themselves, including:
· Karson Morehead first enrolled at UALR in 1999 shortly after graduating from Little Rock’s Central High School. She will graduate Saturday with a degree in liberal studies and three minors – in theatre, English, and music. During the interim, she survived three brain surgeries at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she also received rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. Determined to her life back on track, she returned to UALR in the fall of 2000, carrying only six hours and unable to transfer from the car to a wheelchair without assistance. Against incredible odds, she graduates Saturday Magna Cum Laude. “My doctors call me the miracle child. They didn’t expect me to survive. I’ll say this. It was not easy,” Morehead said. But was it worth it? “Oh,” she said. “Oh, yes.”
· Dennis Gregory, a study in stamina who will receive his degree in electronics and computer engineering technology with a 3.9 grade point average. He managed that while working full-time and raising two college-bound children. The degree comes 23 years after he first started college in 1984. Dr. Hirak Patangia, who nominated Gregory for a Whitback Award, called him a “model student” who, as an undergraduate research assistant, participated in six international conference papers.
· Husband and wife honor students Waylon Corley and Angel Corley of Malvern are both graduating with degrees in construction management. Both were members of the Heavy/Civil team that placed first in the regional Associated Schools of Construction’s Heavy/Civil Construction competition and place third in the national competition, considered the Super Bowl of the construction management industry. They are graduating together, despite his break to serve with his military unit in Iraq.
· Enrique Castro arrived at UALR five years ago with limited English skills and not much formal musical training. He will graduate with a music degree and a resume of performance experiences that include performing at the opening of the Mexican consulate, performing as a featured artist at Wildwood and participating in summer opera productions in Northwest Arkansas. He also has given time and talent teaching classical guitar for the UALR Community School of the Arts.
· Sudeepa Bhattacharyya will become UALR’s first Ph.D. graduate in bioinformatics. The wife of UALR Associate Professor Abhijit Bhattacharyya, she attained three master’s of science degrees while raising two daughters as her husband pursued his academic career.
· Hope native Crystal N. Martin will receive her degree in social work on Saturday in spite of a fire three weeks ago that destroyed her apartment. Her cap and gown were about all she could salvage from the wreckage. She lost books, school work, computers, graduation invitations and new graduation pictures. Despite the trauma, Martin finished projects, papers and final exams to finish, inspired by the new life her degree in social work will provide.