Southern Utah University names St. George native College of Education valedictorian

Kelli Christensen - Cedar City News
Kelli Christensen has been named valedictorian for the College of Education's 2016 convocation at Southern Utah University. Cedar City, Utah, circa April 2016 | Photo courtesy of SUU, Cedar City News / St. George News

CEDAR CITY  – As Southern Utah University’s College of Education valedictorian for the class of 2016, Kelli Christensen says she is humbled and honored to represent what she coins “the helping college.” Among education and exercise science majors, Christensen’s main priority of learning in the College of Education has been focused on teaching and serving others.

Christensen hopes her major in family life and human development with an emphasis on family services will prepare her for work in early intervention with children and families.

“I believe the greatest changes and growth can take place in the home,” Christensen said. “Anyone can be a successful parent if they are taught the proper skills and tools.”

Christensen, a native of nearby St. George, fell in love with the SUU campus while she was in high school, she said, and is proud to be a Thunderbird. The beautiful scenes surrounding the campus captured her interest but the final decision was made when she realized how involved the professors are in student education and opportunities for growth.

Heather Ogden, SUU lead student success advisor and one of Christensen’s professors, said Christensen stood out on first impressions due to her enthusiasm, communication skills and professional demeanor.

“Kelli is excited about learning,” Ogden said. “She always goes the extra mile and it is reflected in everything she does. Kelli is reliable, persistent and eternally upbeat and demonstrates perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

In the future, Christensen anticipates a variety of opportunities, including a possible humanitarian trip to Nepal with Help International. But most of all, Christensen said, she looks forward to the day she can mother her own children and employ the skills she has learned during her education at SUU.

Christensen will be honored April 30 at 2 p.m. in the Centrum Arena during the convocation for the College of Education and Human Development. 

College convocations are supplemental to the university’s commencement ceremony, which will be held at 9 a.m.the same day in the Centrum Arena, conferring degrees upon the Southern Utah University’s Class of 2016. Victor Yushchenko, third president of the Ukraine, will deliver the keynote address. Centrum doors open at 7:30 a.m.  A graduation celebration will be held following commencement at 10:30 a.m. in the Multipurpose Quad. 

Other convocations held the same day include the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at noon, Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science and Engineering at 4:30 p.m. and School of Business at 6:30 p.m. all in the Centrum Arena. The College of Performing and Visual Arts will hold its convocation at 1 p.m. in the Randall Jones Theatre. 

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