First-generation college graduate, former CEO, and bestselling author, Jamie Kern Lima will address the UVU Class of 2024

First-generation college graduate, former CEO of a L’Oréal brand, and New York Times bestselling author Jamie Kern Lima will speak at Utah Valley University’s (UVU) 2024 commencement ceremony to celebrate the transformative power of education with 10,197 graduates — 3,406 of whom are first-generation students. The ceremony will take place on Thursday, May 2, at 6:30 pm in the UCCU Center on UVU’s Orem Campus.

“At UVU, we believe in human potential and empowering our students with knowledge and real-world experience that will benefit them, their families, and communities in the years to come,” said UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez. “Commencement and graduation are a time of joy and triumph for our students and for those who helped them realize their educational dreams. Their sacrifice of time and resources, as well as their hard work and determination, will be one of the best investments they ever make.” 

The 10,197 graduates — 84% percent of them from Utah — will receive 12,499 degrees and certificates at multiple convocation and graduation ceremonies, all of which will be celebrated at commencement. The soon-to-be graduates come from 26 of Utah’s 29 counties, 48 states, and 42 countries. The youngest graduate is 16, and the oldest is 71.

In addition, honorary degrees will be presented to Kern, Wilford W. Clyde, successful business leader and long-time UVU booster and supporter, and Ronnie Price, UVU/NBA basketball legend. Kern and Clyde will receive honorary doctorates of business and Price will receive an honorary doctorate of the university.

More Than One-Third of Graduates Are First-Generation

In addition, more than one-third of UVU graduates are first-generation students, meaning they are the first in their families to attend and graduate from college. Graduation is significant for these students, as they typically face more barriers in their college journeys.

UVU created the First-Generation Access Center in 2019 to help first-generation students stay in school and succeed. The center pairs students with tutors, advisors, and mentors who help them secure grants, scholarships, tuition waivers, and employment. They also receive help with course scheduling, pathways, and general education. More importantly, these programs create a sense of belonging.

Alexa Freeman, from Marietta, California, is a great example of a first-generation student who will graduate with a degree in Spanish on May 2. Neither of her parents attended college, but they preached the importance of higher education to her.

“I feel immense gratitude for the people at UVU because, without them, I wouldn’t be graduating,” Freeman said. “I failed and had to retake quizzes and classes, but the people at TRIO and the first-gen center were my support system, my pillar of strength. You feel a sense of community, and it’s very strong and powerful.”

Freeman plans to attend medical school. To prepare for that, she will participate in a five-week medical immersion program in Argentina, where she will shadow doctors and use the Spanish language skills she acquired at UVU. She will then return to Utah to work in a hospital as a patient care technician while applying for medical school.

First Physician Assistant Cohort to Graduate

UVU is proud to announce that the first cohort of physician assistant students will graduate on May 2. The new UVU Physician Assistant Program is a full-time, 28-month, year-round graduate program consisting of 95 credit hours completed over seven semesters. It prepares students to work in many areas of healthcare.

UVU Graduates Contribute to Utah’s Workforce

Approximately 5,000 UVU graduates land 4- and 5-star jobs — high-demand jobs with high wages — and 83% live in Utah 10 years after graduation. They become part of the dynamic fabric of Utah’s strong and expanding economy. 

Quick Facts About UVU’s Graduating Class of 2024

UVU’s Class of 2024 will receive a breadth of certificates and degrees, including:

  • 36% bachelor’s degrees.
  • 41% associate degrees.
  • 3.3% master’s degrees.
  • 19.1% certificates or diplomas.
  • 0.6% graduate certificates.

The UVU Class of 2024 represents a broad group of students:

  • 84% or 8,565 of the graduates are from Utah.
  • 50% identify as male; 50% identify as female.
  • 33.4% are first-generation students.
  • 18.1% are people of color.
  • 43.6% are 25 or older.
  • The oldest graduate is 71, and the youngest is 16.

To see the graduation processional march at commencement, guests should be in their seats by 6 pm, and the processional march will begin at 6:30 pm. Convocations for the institution’s seven colleges and schools will be held on May 2 and 3.

Tickets are not required. See UVU commencement and convocations for more information.