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Carrying flowers, programs, cameras, phones and general well-wishes, family and friends poured into Northern Arizona University's Skydome on Friday to witness the spring commencement ceremony.

NAU President John Haeger provided these statistics for the four commencement ceremonies on Friday and today: more than 4,000 graduates, including 1,000 from extended campuses, 750 master's degrees and 49 doctoral degrees.

Haeger conferred an honorary doctoral degree on NAU alum Ernest Calderon at the Friday morning ceremony. Calderon is president emeritus of the Arizona Board of Regents. He provided graduates of the Colleges of Education and Social and Behavioral Sciences, as well as extended campus students, with tips from Mark Twain including: "Approve of yourself, keep focused on what you want, the world owes you nothing."

Kelly Curry is graduating with a double major in communication and public relations. She took college classes in high school and was able to finish in three years.

"I am so proud I did it in three years," Curry said. "I stayed with it and finished it."

She mostly used grants and loans, and help from her dad, to finance her education. She will go back to Los Angeles this summer and will substitute teach. Ultimately she plans to go to graduate school in public relations.

"I'm hopeful there's a future for public relations," Curry said. "I'm not worried about it."

Michael Thompson is graduating with a major in psychology. A blue and green cord is draped around his neck. Thompson explained they were for the Edge Leadership Program on campus. He also had a wider, deep blue ribbon around his neck.

"This is the stole of gratitude," Thompson said. "It's for my parents."

He laughed when he explained why he was giving it to them.

"They kept me out of debt the whole time. They also provided the initial push to go to college and provided support and encouragement."

Thompson plans to become a counselor for families and kids.

"If I keep going and get a graduate degree, my chances are endless," he said.

Steven Madan's graduation cap read, "30k in debt & a teacher, #yolo."

"I just feel like you have to celebrate it," Madan, an elementary education major, said. "You have to have humor. You don't go into teaching for the money. I will probably be paying off the debt for the rest of my life."

Madan actually attended NAU through an extended campus in Gilbert. He loved the experience and the reputation of NAU.

"NAU has an excellent education program," Madan said. "It makes you prepared to be a teacher."

He was hired through Teach for America and will teach in an inner city school in New Jersey. This will defer payment of his loans and will pay for part of his graduate degree in Administration.

Victoria Treiber has been working on her degree for seven years. She is a mother and full-time, 20-year employee with HeadStart.

"I am an early education specialist," she said. "I help teachers all around."

She is receiving a degree in Applied Science Early Childhood Education. She has never stepped foot on the NAU campus and all of her work has been done online.

"This is an exciting day for me," Treiber said. "I have worked hard for a long time."

Cecile LeBlanc can be reached at 556-2261 or

Today's ceremonies in the Skydome

-- 10 a.m.: Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences; and Health and Human Services

-- 2 p.m.: All graduate students


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