It’s a time for “new beginnings,” a transition from one facet of life to another. A time for celebration, recognition and reflection. On Saturday, May 15 at 9 a.m. at University Stadium, approximately 3,100 students from The University of New Mexico will graduate as part of the institution’s 2021 Spring Commencement, a ceremony that honors all doctoral, master’s, bachelor's and associate's degree candidates from all schools, colleges, and degree-granting programs.

This is UNM’s first in-person commencement ceremony since December 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to ensure adherence to health restrictions and safety guidance; attendance will be limited only to Spring 2021 graduates. Guests and family will not be able to attend in person. The ceremony will be streamed live on YouTube and Facebook, as well as online at For a list of related departmental events, visit Graduation Events.

Commencement live stream information...

Friends and family can join in on the Virtual Celebration in real-time on YouTube & Facebook. To tune in, visit Graduation Live Stream.

For more information on University Commencement please visit, Spring 2021 Commencement.

About 3,098 students are projected to receive degrees from UNM’s Albuquerque and Extended University campuses, as follows: 2,230 bachelor’s degrees, 492 master’s degrees, 67 doctorates, 91 juris doctorates, 79 medical doctorates, 66 pharmacy doctorates, 71 graduate certificates and 2 education specialists. An official degree count is determined following commencement.

At UNM-Gallup, 130 associate degrees and 33 certificates are projected to be awarded; at Los Alamos, 22 associate degrees; at Taos, 23 associate degrees and 17 certificates; and at Valencia, 61 associate degrees and 17 certificates.

Order of Events
UNM President Garnett S. Stokes will provide a Welcome and Introduction to begin the 2021 commencement exercises. The master of ceremonies is Pamela Agoyo, director, American Indian Student Services, and special assistant to the President for American Indian Affairs. The National Anthem will be performed by Margot Friedli and Ana Elisa Portes Lima, both of whom are graduating with a Master's of Music in Vocal Performance.

The keynote address will be presented by UNM alumna Melanie Kenderdine. Kenderdine is a principal of Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. She is also currently a Visiting Fellow at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), and a Principal of EJM Associates, LLC. Kenderdine worked in the Administration of President Barack Obama at the Department of Energy from May 2013–January 2017 as the Energy Counselor to the Secretary and concurrently was the director of DOE’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.

Various groups will also provide greetings as part of the ceremony including (in order):

  • Board of Regents’ Greeting
    Robert L. Schwartz, regent
  • Faculty Senate Greeting
    Finnie Coleman, president, UNM Faculty Senate
  • ASUNM Greeting
    Mia Amin, president, Associated Students of The University of New Mexico (ASUNM)

  • GPSA Greeting
    Naguru Nikhileswara Reddy, president, Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA)
  • Presentation and Recognition of Graduates by UNM Deans
  • Conferring Tassel Ceremony of Degrees in Course
    Garnett S. Stokes, President
  • Proud Parents Video
  • Remarks from Alumni Association
    Chad Cooper, president, Alumni Association
  • Alma Mater
    Master of Music in Vocal Performance candidate Margot Friedli and Master of Music in Vocal Performance candidate Ana Elisa Portes Lima

Each year, one of the special honors awarded during the commencement ceremony is the Tom L. Popejoy Dissertation Prize to recognize the highest level of academic excellence among our doctoral students. The Tom L. Popejoy Dissertation Prize was established as a permanent memorial to the late Tom L. Popejoy, president of Rhe University of New Mexico from 1948 to 1968. The award recognizes and encourages the highest level of academic excellence.

This spring, the award will be presented to Dr. Jocelyn Collella. Colella is an evolutionary biologist whose research uses mammals as models to understand how organisms change through time. After competing for Lobo Swim and Dive as an undergrad, Colella completed her Ph.D. at The University of New Mexico in 2019 in Dr. Joseph Cook's lab, where her research focused on hybridization dynamics among high-latitude mammalian meso-carnivores. At UNM, Colella worked closely with the Museum of Southwestern Biology, the largest university-based mammal collection in the world, to conduct genetic analyses on wildlife across space and time to inform conservation and understand the evolutionary consequences of genetic mixing.

Currently, Colella is finishing a postdoctoral research position at the University of New Hampshire, where she is researching the genetic basis of dehydration tolerance in desert-adapted rodents. This August, Dr. Colella looks forward to joining the faculty at the University of Kansas as an assistant professor and curator of Mammals.

For more information on UNM's 2021 Commencement, including the Spring 2021 Grad Stream, visit Class of 21.

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For stories about Inspiring Graduates visit, Class of 2021 | Inspiring Graduates.