UW Tacoma commencement today

Dr. Donald Brownlee, principal investigator in NASA’s Stardust Discover mission, will be the keynote speaker as 885 students, the largest class graduating class ever, are honored at the University of Washington Tacoma’s Commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. today in the Tacoma Dome.

Brownlee, professor of astronomy at University of Washington Seattle, has been analyzing the first-ever comet particles brought to earth earlier this year when NASA’s Stardust space capsule landed in Utah after traveling 2.9 billion miles in seven years. Scientists believe these particles contain the history of the solar system. Brownlee will discuss his latest work on this groundbreaking project at his commencement address.

The student speaker will be Joy Eckwood, an Urban Studies graduate who has researched the intersection of race, class and gender in systems.

Eckwood developed a race study circle at UW Tacoma to begin student dialogue on issues of subtle and systematic race and its impact.

The President’s Medal winner is Chantel Rios, who is graduating with a bachelor of science in Nursing. The first member of her family to graduate from college, Rios has been accepted into the prestigious Nursing Ph.D. program at the University of Washington Seattle, a rare honor for an applicant with a bachelor’s degree and no master’s.

Graduates at this year’s commencement exercises are receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business Administration, Computing and Software Systems, Education, Environmental Science, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Nursing, Social Work and Urban Studies.

UW Tacoma opened to 176 students in the fall of 1990. Four students graduated at the end of that year. Growing at an average of 15 percent per year since then, UW Tacoma now enrolls about 2,200 students and has more than 6,000 alumni.