Brian Turner is welcomed as the speaker at Sierra Nevada College’s 42nd annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 12 at 10am. Known internationally for his highly-acclaimed poetry, Turner shares a connection with the graduating seniors having taught many of them in classes such as Writing and the Environment and Contemporary Literature during the 2010-2011 academic year when he was the college’s featured writer-in-residence. He now directs the low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing, set to launch this summer.

Zaira Perez will represent the class of 2012 as Valedictorian. Zaira was selected as 2012 Valedictorian for academic excellence and her contributions to the Sierra Nevada College community. Her embodiment of the college’s core themes is exemplary and befitting the role of Valedictorian.

Brian Turner – Commencement Speaker

Brian Turner

Brian Turner is the author of two collections of poetry: Here, Bullet (Alice James Books, 2005; Bloodaxe Books, 2007) and Phantom Noise (Alice James Books, 2010; Bloodaxe Books in October of 2010). Turner earned an MFA from the University of Oregon before serving for seven years in the US Army. He was an infantry team leader for a year in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Prior to that, he deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina with the 10th Mountain Division (1999-2000).

His poetry and essays have been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, Poetry Daily, The Georgia Review, Virginia Quarterly Review and other journals. Turner was featured in the documentary film Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, which was nominated for an Academy Award. He received a USA Hillcrest Fellowship in Literature, an NEA Literature Fellowship in Poetry, the Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship, the Poets’ Prize, and a Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. His book, Phantom Noise, was short-listed for the T.S. Eliot Prize in England. Most recently, Turner was awarded a Fellowship in the NEA/Japan-US Friendship Commission Creative Artist Program (2012). His work has appeared on National Public Radio, the BBC, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Here and Now, and on Weekend America, among others.

Zaira Perez – Valedictorian

Zaira Perez

Zaira Perez earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration while majoring in Global Management. During her time at Sierra Nevada College, Perez served as treasurer on the Student Government Association, helped her team place third in the Presidents Cup Business Plan Competition, participated in the prestigious Student Symposium, traveled to South Africa as a client-support services intern for the FIFA World Cup, and was awarded as a Departmental Scholar in Business and “Who’s Who” of college students.