SUU Honors Eight Valedictorians for the Class of 2023

Published: April 18, 2023 | Read Time: 7 minutes

2023 valedictoriansEight outstanding students have been named Southern Utah University’s valedictorians in honor of their perseverance and academic excellence throughout their academic careers. Each has a remarkable story leading them to be placed as the highest academically ranked individual in their area of study.

University Valedictorian - Andrew Hatch

Andrew Hatch will represent SUU’s Class of 2023 as the university valedictorian. Originally from Mesa, Arizona, Hatch will graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in Spanish.

“In hindsight, it makes all the hours I spent studying worth it,” said Hatch. “I’m also really proud of the connections I’ve made on campus–not just with my classmates and people in my major, but also with my professors and other friends. I didn’t know anybody when I first came here, but now it feels like I have a family at SUU. I’m really appreciative of all my professors, classmates, and friends who helped me get to this point. It’s definitely been a journey, and it shows me that it was all worth it.”

Hatch has worked in the Tutoring Center for the last three years helping his fellow students with their assignments. This position has helped him discover his passion for helping others. Following graduation, Hatch intends to get a job in the engineering field and start working as soon as he can.

School of Business Valedictorian - Holly Day

Holly Day has been named the 2023 valedictorian for the Dixie L. Leavitt School of Business. She is double majoring in business management and economics with a double minor in finance and Spanish.
Originally from San Diego, California, Day is very active and spent her time skiing, hiking, and playing sports throughout her childhood. Her love of the outdoors and being active was one factor that drew her to SUU, as the surrounding area is full of outdoor activities.

“I had previously been interested in economics, but I hadn’t really figured out how passionate I really am about it,” Day said. “I also wasn’t interested in finance at first, but because of my professors, the classes I’ve taken, and the research that I’ve done, I’ve been able to see a different side of finance.”

She will also graduate with a certificate in international business and plans to start working as a financial analyst after graduation.

College of Engineering and Computational Sciences - Toby McMurray

Toby McMurray has been named the 2023 valedictorian for the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences (CECS). There are many reasons why McMurray chose to come to SUU, including his acceptance of a good scholarship. Following his attendance at the university, McMurray has grown to love SUU even more.

“My professors know how to push me and how to help me extend my limits,” said McMurray. “They understand my aptitude and it’s been really helpful as I’ve started blending what I’ve learned into my career path and facilitating connections in the field through my professors.”

McMurray also offers his gratitude to the rest of the 2023 CECS graduating class for their friendship and hard work, and his family for supporting him. He is graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering and plans to work with the United States Air Force as well as attend graduate school after graduation.

College of Health Sciences - Sydney Bond

Sydney Bond has been named the 2023 valedictorian for the College of Health Sciences.
Bond is from Los Angeles, and wanted to leave California for school. After a quick search she found SUU’s nursing program and fell in love with the University. She loves the outdoors and SUU’s world's best backyard.

“SUU has been a really great environment for me to grow in and discover myself,” said Bond. “Learning to be okay with being wrong and not knowing what I'm doing. Being okay with having to figure things out and things being bumpy sometimes.”

She is graduating with a degree in nursing with a minor in human nutrition, and plans to work in southern Utah as a nurse after graduation.

College of Sciences - Alexa Lord

Alexa Lord has been named the 2023 valedictorian for the Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Sciences.
As the daughter of two SUU alumni, she fell in love with the community and the scenery as well as the basketball coaches. After a campus visit, Lord decided to attend SUU where she became a member of the women's basketball team and the president of the athlete advisory committee.

“The people here, the community, all my professors and peers have been really supportive and pushed me to be my best as I became more interested in my future career path,” said Lord. “There's a great community here and it has really helped me grow.”

Lord is graduating with a biology major and chemistry minor. After graduation, she plans to stay an extra year to continue playing basketball and work on a master’s degree in business with a healthcare administration focus. She’ll head to medical school soon after.

College of Performing and Visual Arts - Breonna Perry

Breonna Perry has been named the 2023 valedictorian for the College of Performing and Visual Arts.
Growing up in Brigham City, Utah, Perry’s main hobby was ballet. She also enjoys hiking and being outdoors, which was part of the reason why she chose SUU. Perry hadn’t done ceramics or visual art before coming to college, but was instantly enticed by it when she took a class at SUU.

“SUU gives you so many opportunities to succeed from the moment you become a student here and I couldn’t be more grateful for the experiences I’ve had,” said Perry.

Perry is graduating with a degree in fine arts with an emphasis in ceramics and sculpture and a double minor in art history and CAD/CAM. She plans to begin working as an independent artist and start building her career after graduation.

College of Education and Human Development - Kourtney Gates

Kourtney Gates has been named the 2023 valedictorian for the Beverley Taylor Sorenson College of Education and Human Development.

Gates is from Greeley, Colorado and has always had a passion for school and education. While figuring out where to pursue her passion she toured SUU in her senior year of high school. She fell in love with SUU’s campus and surrounding nature. Already impressed by the education program, the cozy, homey feeling in Cedar City took her by surprise and moved SUU to the top of her list.

“I am really passionate about education and helping children reach their full potential,” said Gates. “I think a lot of kids need someone that believes in them and someone that tells them that they can do great things and I want to be that person for them. I feel really passionate about helping them to see the value in themselves and realize that there's a whole world of opportunities out there for them and that they can do whatever they want to do.”

Gates is graduating with a degree in elementary education and has accepted a job at Three Peaks Elementary, in Cedar City. She’ll begin teaching the third grade starting this fall.

College of Humanities and Social Sciences - Aspen English

Aspen English has been named the 2023 valedictorian for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. English comes from a long line of T-Birds; her grandfather and her mother are SUU alumni. Additionally, her high school took yearly trips to the Utah Shakespeare Festival, leading her to fall in love with the campus and culture of SUU.

English was born in North Carolina and has always loved reading and writing, and eventually decided to explore this passion at SUU.

“I think that one of the greatest gifts SUU has given me includes the people I was introduced to and now consider my friends, mentors, peers, and advisors,” said English. “Through the network of this school, I have found some of my closest friends and loved ones, even outside of an academic setting.”

English is graduating with a double major degree in English with an emphasis in rhetoric and writing and strategic communication.

SUU's 2023 Commencement Ceremony

SUU’s Commencement Ceremony will be held on Friday, April 28, 2023, at 8:30 a.m. in the America First Event Center. The Commencement Ceremony is open to all graduating students and their guests. Tickets are not required, but graduates and their families will be given priority seating. Visit SUU’s graduation website for a full schedule of events.


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