The University of New Mexico is proud of every class of graduates its halls produce and the distinctive challenges they overcome to walk across the graduation stage. With commencement on the horizon, this year is no different – those joining the UNM Alumni ranks are poised leave the classroom and take their knowledge, passion, and innovation into the world.

Each fall and spring, the University Communication and Marketing team chooses seniors from the graduating class to feature as part of the ongoing Inspiring Graduate series. The Class of 2021 is unique in prevailing through a worldwide pandemic and unprecedented world upheaval culturally, politically, and environmentally. They have truly defined their opportunities. We hope their stories of joy, sorrow, perseverance, and resilience inspires our community to never stop learning.



Juana Estrada Hernandez

Printmaker grad's work reflects immigrant reality
Printmaker Juana Estrada Hernandez moved to the United States from Mexico when she was a child. Her artwork reflects her culture and status as a participant in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, part of the first wave of students that applied for the program in 2012. Estrada Hernandez is among the countless people who were brought to this country by a family looking for a bright future and equitable opportunities for their children and families. This week, Estrada Hernandez will receive her Master’s of Fine Arts in Studio Arts with an emphasis is in Printmaking from The University of New Mexico.

Siri Khalsa will

UNM grad takes unconventional path to earn degree
Students from The University of New Mexico come from all walks of life. For some, the path can be somewhat easy to navigate once on campus. For others, the challenges of life and all that brings can make that path a bit more difficult to navigate. For Siri Khalsa, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) from the UNM School of Engineering with a minor in psychology, the path to graduation was unconventional, to say the least. “I went to school part-time, and it took eight years, but I got my bachelor’s degree,” said Khalsa who at 31-years of age has never taken the conventional route toward any of his goals in life.

Brandon Stringham is preparing...

Graduate learns the value of time spent with others
Graduating senior Brandon Stringham is about to embark upon one of his greatest challenges yet, preparing to leave Albuquerque to become a software engineer for American Airlines. In the meantime, Stringham remains grounded in is his faith, the memories he’s created while at UNM and a lifelong lesson he’ll forever live up to after finding friendship at The University of New Mexico.


Rachel Whitt | Class of 2021

UNM communicator creates her own inspirational story
For the last five years, Rachel Whitt has been chronicling stories about the students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni of The University of New Mexico. In video and print, she has covered the news from the Lobo community and proclaimed its successes and triumphs to the campus, state, nation, and world.

Cinthia Herrera | Class of  2021

Translation of language leads UNM senior to path of self-discovery
Since a young age, Cinthia Herrera has recognized the impact of her words, but even more so the power of one’s language. Through experience, she’s come to learn its power to reveal heartache, build character and create opportunity.


Mary Dorado | Class of 2021

Choosing life following tragedy
From her sparkling green eyes to her dark hair set against ivory skin, Mary Kathleen Dorado is every bit a mirror of her Irish ancestors. The lineage becomes even more apparent if you spend any time with her family, a joyful group who are welcoming of all, eager to laugh, and rarely reach higher than about 5’6" tall.

Haleigh Gossett Class of 2021

Twists and turns leading to the graduation stage
As a college freshman at Wayland Baptist University, Haleigh Gossett never expected her collegiate path would lead her to walking across the graduation stage at The University of New Mexico. Gossett, originally from New Mexico, made the decision to attend college out-of-state. But the second semester of her freshman year, she was hurt.

Datenzing Tamang | Class of 2021

UNM student travels across the globe for UNM
UNM Senior Datenzing Tamang has had a long journey to the graduation stage, both academic and personal. It started with an uprooting, when the Land of Enchantment intrigued her so much, she left her home country of Nepal and travelled around the world to New Mexico to pursue her bachelor’s degree.
 with disabilities. 

Clarissa Pitts

Finding her way: After years of perseverance, Clarissa Pitts earns a nursing degree
December is turning out to be a season of new beginnings for Clarissa Pitts. Not only will she be graduating from The University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, she’s also just accepted a position as a charge nurse in urology, vascular and nephrology clinics at UNM Health. And, she recently celebrated a birthday.

Judy Zanotti HG

UNM to present Judy Zanotti with honorary doctoral degree
Throughout a distinguished career and years of service to the Albuquerque community, Judy Zanotti will be honored by The University of New Mexico with an honorary doctoral degree during the fall commencement ceremony, Friday, Dec. 17. Zanotti is most recognized for her work on behalf of individuals