UNK celebrating summer graduates Friday; Deuel receiving honorary degree

KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney will host its 2021 summer commencement ceremony Friday, July 30, at the Health and Sports Center on campus.

Undergraduate and graduate degrees for 218 students will be conferred during the event, which begins at 10 a.m. with doors opening at 8:30 a.m.

There is no restriction on the number of guests students can bring to the ceremony. Guests and participants are not required to wear face masks, per the university’s Phase III status in its COVID-19 response plan.

Individuals planning to attend are asked to monitor themselves for symptoms and stay at home if they are feeling ill or have been in recent contact with someone with COVID-19. Those who are unable to attend in person may watch the ceremony via livestream on UNK’s website. A recording can also be viewed later on the website.

UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen will award degrees and deliver the commencement address. University of Nebraska President Ted Carter, NU Board of Regents Vice Chair Bob Phares of North Platte and UNK Student Regent Noah Limbach of Kearney will also speak at the event.

John Masker of Kearney will give the graduate reflection. He received a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from UNK in 2019 and is graduating Friday with a Master of Arts in Education in physical education and exercise science.

A graduate assistant for UNK’s Physical Activity and Wellness Lab, Masker has served in organizational and management roles with Nebraska Kids Fitness and Nutrition Day, the Building Healthy Families program and BMI Report Card project through the Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences. He’s presented during UNK Research Week and McCook Bison Days and worked as a physical therapy technician.

Masker’s teaching, coaching and service experience also includes contributions to Loper Performance and Kearney Catholic football. He’s a baseball umpire at the junior varsity and varsity levels and an NSAA-certified basketball official.

Logan Hansen, a 2018 UNK graduate, will perform the national anthem.

Kearney State College alumna Vikki Deuel will receive an honorary Doctor of Education in recognition of her community service and contributions to public education. Deuel graduated in 1971 with a degree in special education and went on to complete a Master of Arts in special education and educational specialist degree, all from KSC.

She started her professional career as a special education teacher at Walnut Middle School in Grand Island before advancing to the positions of assistant principal in 1985 and principal in 1990. Walnut Middle School received national recognition under her leadership, including the National School of Character Award in 2003, Operation Respect National Model School designation in 2005 and Hands Project National Partner in Peace in 2007.

Following her retirement, Deuel taught in UNK’s Department of Teacher Education for five years.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Deuel has an impressive record of community service, volunteering with the Nebraska State Fair, Friends of Grand Island Parks and other organizations. She’s president of the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation Board of Directors and a member of the Literacy Council of Grand Island Board of Directors. Deuel received the Grand Island Northwest Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015 and the GIPS Foundation’s Legendary Educator honor in 2017 and was named the YWCA Grand Island Woman of Distinction in 2018.

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