“Your college education gives you an edge — an edge to be successful,” said new President Marc Johnson, in his first commencement address as head of the university.
The spring commencement conferred 2,215 degrees — 1,653 bachelor’s degrees and 562 master’s degrees — which is a 10 percent increase over last year and the most in its 122 years, according to UNR officials.
If recent nationwide reports are telling the truth, this means it will also be the largest graduating class with one of the largest levels of job uncertainty. The Associated Press reported last month said college graduates are facing high levels of unemployment or underemployment — not to mention Nevada’s nation-leading unemployment levels and continued slumping economy.
But if that was in the backs of anyone’s mind during the commencement exercises Saturday morning in the university quad, it didn’t spoil the day. A number of students indicated they had jobs already lined up, and those who didn’t showed little sign of worry about it.
Ryan Gardner, a 25-year-old engineering major from Sparks, said he received a job offer last week to do geotechnical engineering. All through college he was just concerned with completing his education by his 25th birthday, which was a couple of weeks ago. Now, he has a diploma and soon a regular paycheck.
“It’s fantastic to have a job straight out of college, especially the way times are,” said Gardner, a member of the Reed High School class of 2005. “I feel blessed with that fact.”
Jessica Cabanilla, 21, another Sparks resident, studied elementary education and will work full time this summer before starting a 14-week internship at Jessie Beck Elementary School in Reno this fall before returning to school for her master’s degree.
“I think a lot of education majors are a little nervous with what’s going on with budget cuts and whether they can get a position,” Cabanilla said. “Other than that though I think everyone I’ve known throughout these years are amazing and I’ve networked a lot and absolutely love everybody.”
The university’s top student, Mathew Neven, recipient of the 2012 Herz Gold Medal for outstanding scholarship, credits faculty in the College of Business with helping him get a job with local firm Whittier Trust, which he starts full time on Monday. He said four or five of his other friends also have gotten jobs through faculty recommendations.
“I think faculty have done a great job of helping overcome some stress currently in the job market,” Neven said.
Jamie Schwartz of Reno was on hand to watch her son graduate with his degrees in psychology and biology. She said he is still looking for a job, though he has a good lead in San Diego, Calif., and he might go to medical school so he can go into medical research.
“I think he has enough education, enough determination that he’s going to be successful wherever he goes,” Schwartz said.