Sierra Nevada University’s 51st annual Commencement
Saturday, May 15, 2021 @ 10 am
To SNU students, families, and community,
We are planning to hold SNU’s 51st Commencement in person, in its traditional location on Patterson Lawn. Although safety will require a smaller event than in the past, we are very excited to return this momentous celebration for our students to our (not virtual) beautiful campus by Lake Tahoe.
In order to plan for safe social distancing, graduating students must RSVP and will be limited to two guests, guest RSVPs required. Details, deadlines, and links are on the Commencement FAQ page. As usual, we will livestream the entire event for family and friends everywhere.
These plans are, as all plans have been since the onset of the pandemic, subject to conditions on the ground. Check back for updates!
Commencement Speaker Richard Bangs
Richard Bangs has often been called the father of modern adventure travel. His goal is “travel that makes a difference, travel that positively impacts the world”. In his 30 years as an explorer, web pioneer, and author, he has led first descents of 35 rivers around the globe; published more than 1000 magazine articles and 19 books; and produced a score of documentaries. He produced the first internet travel site (www.mtsobek.com), travel CD (The Adventure Disc), and virtual expeditions (www.terra-quest.com). He is co-founder of www.steller.com, now the world’s largest travel storytelling platform and app, and is currently its Chief Adventure Officer.
Bangs’ creations range across continents, platforms, and media. Sobek Expeditions, the company he co-founded to take whitewater expeditions to remote places, merged with Mountain Travel in the early 1990s and is still going strong today. He was part of the founding executive team of Expedia.com and served as its Editor-at-Large. He co-directed the IMAX Film, Mystery of the Nile. The film documents the first successful expedition to navigate the entire 3,260 miles of the Blue Nile from its source in Ethiopia to the Mediterranean Sea. Bangs executive produced and hosted the Emmy-winning series Richard Bangs’ Adventures with Purpose for American Public Television. Each award-winning episode was shot in a spectacular new location. His book The Lost River: A Memoir of Life, Death and the Transformation of Wild Water won the National Outdoor Book Award in the literature category.
Richard Bangs won the Friends of the River Mark Dubois Lifetime Achievement Conservation Award in 2007. He also served as president of Outward Bound in 2001 and 2002.
Valedictorian Kayla Heidenreich
Kayla came to SNU as an aspiring Outdoor Adventure Leadership major. She loved spending my time exploring the Tahoe basin, and climbing mountains in order to snowboard back down them. She learned wilderness safety and survival skills, and led a 5 day orientation backpacking trip through the Desolation Wilderness. It was an amazing leadership experience to lay out the welcome mat and introduce these new SNU students to their new backyard.
As she dove into journalism, her second Interdisciplinary major, she took Brennan Lagasse’s Arctic Refuge course – a course that changed her world and her place within it.
During her junior and senior years she crammed every sustainability course possible into her schedule. She was deeply involved with both the Climate Alliance Club and the Social Justice Club. It made her proud that both of these organizations are safe spaces where students can confidently express themselves, voice their opinions, and develop their sense of community. She worked with the Sierra Club and Alaska Wilderness League to create a 24-part curriculum based on environmental and cultural sustainability. Part of that curriculum was sent to over 400 schools through the Sierra Club, and a website to provide open access to the curriculum is in progress. Her petition to help the Washoe Women rename “Squaw” Valley obtained over 100,000 signatures. That led her to work on Emily Tesmer’s documentary “Walking with my Sisters” as an editor and producer.
“I have found a new passion for amplifying the voices of those who have been oppressed, and I believe carrying that through our education system is vital in creating a new future.”
Help ensure the big day is a success. Mandatory for undergrads; optional for graduate students.
Academic and SGA awards presented for outstanding performance.
All graduating students report to TCES 139/141 at 9am. Please attend this important milestone event early to prepare for your final goodbye!
Faculty report to Prim Library at 9am.
Guests should check-in between 8:30-9:30am. All graduates and their guests must have RSVPed by April 23rd to be admitted. Please allow plenty of time for check-in due to COVID safety requirements.