Francesca Curtolo, BSBM in Finance and Economics, giving the Valedictorian speech for Class of 2017
Thoughts from the Class of 2017, valedictorian Francesca Curtolo, and commencement speaker Benjamin Busch.

Voices from Commencement 2017

Francesca Curtolo, Valedictorian

“I was exposed to a range of different disciplines that I wasn’t familiar with. I look at the world with different lenses, that have allowed me to see the world more inside me than outside. That’s liberal arts education in a nutshell.”

“(My professor) just listened, and she introduced me to the sound of my own voice. A voice that was probably in me already, but I was too shy to give a chance.”

“Now it is our turn to share. It is our turn to build communities that go beyond a superficial kindness, where ideas bounce in and out of brains and where voices spring from hearts, where passions are fostered and hard work is the way to go.”

Benjamin Busch, Commencement Speaker

“Don’t try to eat hard shell tacos while you drive unless you’re wearing a plastic garbage bag.”

“Never use the words ‘winningest’, ‘impactful’, or ‘supposably’.”

“Give yourselves away. No one can steal from you what you offer freely. And nothing is owed in return.”

“Allow uncertainty. We’ve settled into our certainties and it’s made us all intolerable. It’s stopped us from progressing, from seeking, from ascending. Don’t be so sure of what you know.”

“Now go forth, and be yourselves.”

The Sierra Nevada College Class of 2017

Fine Arts

Ian Wieczorek
Thank you for all the support over the years. Ian can’t wait for the rendezvous at NCECA. The SNC alumni hold it down at the shows!

Chris Blossom
Sheri has creative freedom with this area. Chris has plans to travel after graduation – for a year at least.

Joshua Patten
Josh will try to help people through art, in whatever forms it may take.

Shafer Smart
Shafer didn’t think he would find such an awesome environment where he could study and get his degree, but is glad he did. Take it easy!


Julie Ann Contos
Julie is very grateful she had the opportunity to finish something she started over 20 years ago.

Kalen Daniels
Kalen completed her degree in three years, with hopes of becoming an educator. She is also walking with her middle school sweetheart!

Ryan Donoghue
During his time here, Ryan served as a mentor, an invaluable member of the men’s golf program, and student government. He will be off to law school this year.

Danielle Hicks
Danielle would like to thank her father, Dan, for all his help and support. “I owe all of my success to you, dad!”

Monet Kachurak
Monet loved her experience at SNC. She finally found a place that provided for her needs and made her successful.

Kaitlyn MacAuley
Kaitlyn blossomed here at SNC, and finally found her voice as a writer. She looks forward to what awaits her in the future.

Angel Gonzalez
It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, what matters is how many times you get up and keep moving forward. Thanks to my family. I love you all!

Madison Johnson
How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard.

Alma Medina
Thank you to my family that always pushed me to keep going and believed in me.

Claire Riordan
Claire would like to recognize Christina Frederick, Donna Axton, and Katie Zanto for being incredible teachers during her time at SNC. She is looking forward to making a difference in children’s lives in her near future. Claire is currently in the grad program at SNC getting her Master’s in Special Education.

Arno Ruymaekers
Arno is going to see where life takes him. He would like to thank his mom and dad for their support, and Christina Frederick for all her help over the last year.

Juan Sandoval
Juan devoted a lot of time into his studies and plan on pursuing higher degrees in Psychology.

Tufon Kalbassi
Tufon has found passion, surety of self, and force of will through poetry. This is a journey 10 years in the making, and it only gets better from here!

Helen Montanez
Helen is one of the first in her family to graduate college, and plans to be a published author.

Interdisciplinary Studies

Christian Beuttenmuller
SNC was the best college to help Cody transition from the Marine Corp to college. Cody is excited to continue furthering his knowledge and skills that he learned at SNC.

Justine Nelson
Justine is extremely grateful for her family, friends, professors, and mentors, who helped guide her through her journey at SNC, and is excited to take the next step in her life.

Stephanie Coates
Stephanie thanks her family and friends for their unconditional support throughout her college journey. She can’t wait to see where life takes her next.

Forest Jade
Forest spent his time at SNC creating, immersing and engaging digital experiences. Forest will continue engaging his experiences by taking his productions on tour – locally and nationally as a performance, musical act, and mobile digital media company – Peace3 Productions.

Alyx Levine
After graduation, Alyx wants to pursue her passion for traveling and rock climbing. She also plans on becoming an outdoor science educator and getting a Masters in forest ecology.

Keifer Bly
Loved my time at SNC! Looking forward to future endeavors in Digital Arts and Technology.

Carissa Priebusch
She came, she saw, she conquered!

Jack Witt
Thanks mom and dad – couldn’t have done this without you!


Brett Cassel
Thank you to Nancy Binz for the personal scholarship. Thank you to mom and dad for all your love and support. And, thank you to Andy, Suzanne, Chuck, and Steve for their support.

Habtamu Merga
Thank you, Ted and Mary for your big support, love, and encouragement. I couldn’t have accomplished this without your support.

Monterey Winn
Thank you, especially to Chuck, Steve and Andy, for helping guide me to this point. Thank you is beyond words to my parents for being my constant support. On to the next adventure – Cheers!

Hugo Ramirez
Hugo wants to thank everyone who supported him and helped him through this journey. Thank you! TTYN!

Jordyn Garrity
Jordyn would like to dedicate all of her achievements and future accomplishments to her best friend, Marilyn Hanbury.

Austin Farina
Austin would like to thank his mom, dad, brothers, and Lexi for helping him get through everything. Austin will be continuing his education in the health sciences.

Marco Maynard
Hakuna Matata


Thomas Alt
Thomas plans to get a job in the Incline Village area after graduation. After a year or so, he plans to get a Master’s degree in Marketing.

Ashley Lipp
After graduation, Ashley plans on exploring opportunities in the financial work force, as well as spend time with his children, Cash and Charleigh, and wife Lindsay.

Joie Rhein
Joie is planning on continuing on with her education to get her Master’s.

Kristy Wright
Kristy will continue working full-time. Hopefully, she will enter into a graduate program where she can eventually earn her Juris Doctorate.

Andri Arnason
I want to thank Branko Zagar for giving me the opportunity to come to SNC to obtain my Bachelor’s degree. Andri is planning t move back to Sweden and work in the banking sector.

Lukas Brassie
Lukas would like to thank his parents, professor’s and peers for being a part of his journey at SNC. Lukas plans to be a full-time trader, while also investing in real estate.

Juan Luque
Juan is a determined individual, who showed his work ethic in the classroom and on the soccer field. He will continue his career with the same character and pronounced ambition into the future.

Grant Furlan
Thank you to my friends, family, and to all of the faculty who supported me over the last four years.

Henriette Haug
Henriette is grateful for the four incredible years at Sierra Nevada College. She is now excited to start her Master’s degree in Marketing at BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo. Thank you, Branko, for making this possible.

Sergio Orduna-Nixon
Sergio thanks his family and friends for their love and support through his time at SNC.

John Aidan Lee
Aidan would like to thank Jon Cherry, Stacy Taylor, and his family for helping him attend and graduate from SNC.

Andrew Lubrano
Since discovering SNC when Andrew was in the 6th grade, he has been looking forward to graduating. His time here was nothing less than what he was expecting.

Finlay Neeson
Finlay would like to thank his family, Branko, and the ski team for making the opportunity to attend SNC possible and memorable. He plans to spend the next few years avoiding Trump’s immigration scheme and stay in the United States of America.

Sergio Orduna-Nixon
Sergio would like to thank his family and friends for their love and support throughout his time at SNC.

Ivo Ricou
Ivo would like to thank Branko Zagar for everything he did for him. Ivo will go home to France to work and save money for a couple of years in order to travel the world for a while.

Estefania Rivera Gonzalez
Estefania will be moving to Guanajuato, Mexico, after graduation to attend graduate school at the Universidad Iberoamericana of Leon.

Patrick Rulo
Patrick would like to thank Ted Morse and Mary Lewellen for being mentors. Also, thank you, SNC, for helping me achieve my goals.

Nicholas Smith
Nick would like to dedicate this to his dad, and thank his family, friends, and teachers for helping him achieve this.

John Stepp
John is the best student we’ve ever had at Sierra Nevada College!

Macy Mannix
Macy would like to thank her incredible family for supporting her unconditionally, and hopes SNC brings back women’s lacrosse.

Jai Odyssea
Jai would like to give a loving “thank you” to all those who helped along this journey.

Jada Garcia
Jada is more than excited to stop stressing about school payments, and is very excited to sip cocktails on the beach in Mexico with his family.

Napier Jason Jencka
Jason thanks all those friends, acquaintances and professors that brought positive energy. He offers a special shout-out to Ted Parkhill, Steve Ellsworth, Steve Baker, Stacy Taylor, and SNC students.

Anthony Caporaso
Anthony will be transitioning into the Education Program and hopes to be teaching by Fall 2017. He also wishes to travel up and down the coast of California to Canada, during school breaks, in order to see where he may ultimately end up (hopefully, the Monterey area).

Ted Porter
Ted really enjoyed his time at SNC. He is thankful for all the awesome friends he made and everything he learned.

Bryce Tye
After graduation, Bryce is pursuing a career in finance, as well as looking forward to traveling.

Kristine Adde
Kristine wants to thank Branko Zagar for making it possible for her to graduate from SNC. In a week, she will be moving back to Norway to complete a year of work before deciding on her Master’s degree.

Lindsay Babbitt
Lindsay hopes to find a job she loves because she doesn’t know what she wants to do.

Derek Buickerood
Derek would like to thank his family for always supporting him. And, a special thank you to his mom and dad for making him the person he is today. “I wouldn’t be here without you two.”

Francesca Curtolo
Francesca is grateful for the opportunity that ski racing gave her the past three years at SNC. A big thank you to her family, faculty, and ski team friends who supported her through this journey that rose from an uncertain start to the best experience of her life.

Brian Gass
Brian will be attempting the CFA exam in June. Then, he will hike southbound on the Continental Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico.

Elizabeth Guth
Thanks to my family for all the support, and thank you SNC for the wonderful experience.

Joshua Hodges
Joshua is the first in his family to obtain a Bachelor’s degree, and will pursuing a career in law enforcement. Josh is walking today with his middle school sweetheart, Kalen.

Timothy Lord
Tim excelled in his academics and played an integral part in both the newly formed SNC freeride club and disc golf club. After graduation, Tim looks forward to traveling the world and working within the ski industry. Go Eagles!

Erik Lund
Erik is applying for business school in Europe and the U.S. Thanks to Branko and all the professors.

Cole Mizak
Cole is grateful to his parents and family for all of their support. He has chosen to pursue a career as a realtor with Re/Max North Lake specializing in residential real estate in both Incline Village and Crystal Bay.

Hunter Platte
Hunter is a bright, young man with an even brighter future. The combination of his work ethic and his constant drive for success will propel him to greatness.

Octavio Rivas
Octavio will go on to start various companies, travel the world, and become the President of Chile. “You will find the key to success under the alarm clock,” said B. Franklin; if not, why say YOLO IT.

Hayden Steele
Thanks for all the fun times!

Svyatoslav Safonov
Thank you to my parents, professors, and friends. It’s been a great run!

Taylor Steele
Thank you to all my friends and family that made this journey possible. With your continued support, I am excited to see what the future holds.

Eric Unterberger
Eric will be looking for new job opportunities in Northern Nevada or California.

Ben Merrill
To my mother, who taught me perseverance, and to my father, who taught me patience. Thank you for your guidance and support.

Carissa Priebusch
She came! She saw! She conquered!

Arthur Black
Arthur plans to be seeking a job in the real estate field. He also plans on traveling to different countries.

Sergio Heredia
First, Sergio is going to travel (South America), and then see where things go from there.

Brett Ungari
I would like to thank my family for always supporting me. I would not be where I am without our help. Thank you for always believing in me.