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The University of Alaska Southeast will award degrees and certificates in a commencement ceremony at its Auke Lake campus today, marking a new milestone for the growing regional college.
Included among those degrees will be 62 awarded to Alaska Natives, up from 38 last year. About 14 percent of UAS students are Alaska Natives. An additional Native celebration was held Saturday with gifts and storytelling.
The ceremony this afternoon will feature speaker Mark Hamilton, retiring next month as president of the University of Alaska system after 12 years at its helm.
UAS will confer 300 degrees today. It's annual enrollment is about 6,400 students, two-thirds of which are in Juneau. UAS also has campuses in Sitka and Ketchikan.
Special honorees this year will be two prominent Juneau residents, former Labor Commissioner Tom Cashen and former Mayor Jamie Parsons.
An Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree will be conferred on Tom Cashen. Cashen is a fourth generation Southeast Alaskan, mentor and exemplary role model to workers and labor leaders across the state, with a distinguished career as a journeyman electrician, union representative, and state labor commissioner.
As commissioner, Cashen presided over the Jobs and Training Cabinet and fostered the greater integration and coordination of workforce development agencies, including the University of Alaska, through the establishment of "one-stop" job centers and the re-organization of the state workforce development council.
Jamie Parsons will accept a Meritorious Service Award. Parsons has been called Juneau's greatest cheerleader. His resume includes titles as former Juneau mayor (1991-94), assemblyman, owner of the Juneau Raquet Club, president of the Glacier Valley Rotary Club, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and chairman of The Alaska Committee.
Parsons "has always transcended partisan politics and is an exceptional example to the citizens of Alaska, proving that one person can really make a difference," according to a legislative resolution honoring him.
The student speaker is Alicia Hughes-Skandijs, who is graduating with a BS in Mathematics and excelled in a number of theatre and art courses.
She has been employed by the School of Arts and Sciences for the last couple of years as a student worker and was a Student Leader for Orientation this year.