University Affairs

Utah State University Blanding Celebrates 2024 Graduating Class

By Marcus Jensen |

Utah State University Blanding is proud to have celebrated its class of 2024 on Friday, April 26. The class of 2024 consists of 188 individuals earning 55 associate, 17 bachelor’s, and 12 master’s degrees and 134 undergraduate and one graduate certificate.

“This is a truly exciting occasion to be with you today to celebrate the achievements of each and every one of our graduates,” said Kristian Olsen, senior associate vice president of USU Blanding, in his opening statement.

USU Blanding celebrated graduates with a ceremony at San Juan High School. Olsen welcomed the graduates and Riana James, student body executive vice president, gave a greeting from the student association. James graduated with a bachelor’s degree in integrated studies.

Tylan Dee was then introduced as the student speaker. Dee, who graduated with a master’s degree in Instructional Technology & Learning Sciences and was awarded the 2024 USU ITLS Master’s Scholar of the Year,shared how his initial dive into higher education was a struggle. But he persevered and began to find success. He concluded by encouraging his fellow graduates to never give up on themselves and to continue dreaming big.

“You are all sitting here today because you were able to accomplish your goals, remain resilient, and persevere until you fulfilled a dream that you never gave up on,” Dee said. “My wish for you today is that you continue to chase new goals and dreams and continue to challenge yourselves to new heights. Dreaming big and chasing your goals will help you discover your true self and allow for personal growth.”

Olsen then introduced the commencement speaker, Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren, first lady of the Navajo Nation. Blackwater-Nygren sharedher path of becoming a state representative in Arizona. She shared how others impacted her decision to run for office, and how they believed in her potential before she did. She then encouraged the graduates to believe in themselves and their abilities.

“There are several lessons from this story,” she said. “One is to believe in yourself. And you have a unique perspective that no one else has. As recent graduates, there are all these doors that will open. And it is up to each one of you to figure out which door you are going to walk through.”

For those students that may not believe they have the support system that Blackwater-Nygren had, she then offered students her own endorsement.

“I believe in you; each and every one of you,” she said. “You, as an individual, have whatever it takes to do whatever it is you want to do. You may not think you are good enough, but I’m here to tell you that you are good enough. We all believe in you.”

USU President Elizabeth R. Cantwell then provided a short message and conferred upon the students their degrees. Once the graduates received their diplomas, Matthew White, vice president of Advancement and president of the USU Foundation, delivered a welcome address.

Offering residential campus housing and dining, Utah State University Blanding gives students the personalized attention and small class sizes of a small-town college with the resources of a large university, all while providing award-winning education. With degree options ranging from associate to doctorate degrees, plus technical education offerings in Business, Technical Trades and Health Professions, USU Blanding offers programs that help fuel local economies and empower individuals and their communities. Learn more at


Marcus Jensen
News Coordinator
University Marketing and Communications


Kristian Olsen
Senior Associate Vice President
Utah State University Blanding & Moab


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