A statewide mandate to stay at home, a complete transition to online classes and a lifechanging pandemic sweeping the globe – UNM students have faced incredible odds and overcome unchartered challenges to be counted among the Class of 2020.
Each year, The University of New Mexico Communication and Marketing team selects several graduates to represent the drive, determination and dedication of UNM's graduating class. The Class of 2020 will always hold a special place in the history of the institution – as a class that prevailed. The students highlighted here represent only a fraction of those who embraced change, stared down a societal shift and prevailed against all obstacles to earn their degrees.
As they move out into a world still unsettled by COVID-19, their resilience, optimism and innovation will be a guiding light to all those adapting to a new way of living.
First graduating class | Native American Studies master's degree
The first Master’s of Arts in Native American Studies degree program began in the Fall 2018 semester. Now, in a challenging time for many Native Americans as a pandemic threatens their communities, members of the first NAS master’s degree program cohort are celebrating their success in attaining their degrees.
Jonathan Ordoñez | Political Science
In the middle of his college journey, Jonathan Ordoñez experienced the loss of his younger sister. Following this tragedy, this dedicated Lobo continued toward the path of graduation. In her honor, weeks before he earned his diploma, Ordoñez was one of 14 Army ROTC cadets commissioned to second lieutenants.
Daevon Vigilant | Interpersonal Communication
Daevon Vigilant says college has completely changed his life. He was shy when he first came to UNM, but he explains how he overcame that on his way to attaining a degree.
Makayla Grijalva | Multimedia Journalism and Political Science
Makayla Grijalva says when she arrived on campus, she was too afraid to speak up in class, go to office hours or even apply at the Daily Lobo. Read how she persisted to graduate as part of the Class of 2020.
Daniel Strones | B.A. Liberal Arts and Integrated Studies
This graduating Lobo has broken every barrier along his path on the way to graduation. Daniel Strones has become a proud social justice advocate for his peers on campus and across the Albuquerque community.
Peter and Hyunju Blemel | B.A. Liberal Arts
This father/daughter duo are proud to join a family of Lobos! Peter and Hyunju Blemel discuss their family tradition and why this graduation was so special to them.
Richard Goke | Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting
Richard Goke’s first attempt at attending The University of New Mexico didn’t work out and he ended up dropping out. But he came back, successfully completed his studies, will graduate this month, and plans to return. Click here to read Richard Goke's story.
Victoria Peña-Parr | Political Science/Spanish
Cherry and Silver run in Victoria's veins – her dad is also a UNM Alum. As a graduating leader of ASUNM, she says student involvment at UNM is key to a better future.
Molly Whitt | M.D. Candidate, UNM School of Medicine
Graduating from The University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Molly and her peers left the university as students and will return to the world as doctors in the midst of a pandemic.