Westminster College Holds 2019 Commencement Ceremony

 Westminster 2018 commencement

May 3, 2019

Westminster College will hold its 144th commencement ceremony on May 11, 2019, at the Maverik Center in West Valley City. Approximately 763 students will walk across the stage to accept 520 bachelor and 243 master’s degrees.

Students from 37 states and 27 different countries comprise the Class of 2019. Graduating students range in age from 20–66. The class is made up of 59% women and 41% men. This year’s top majors include:

  1. Nursing
  2. Business Administration
  3. Finance
  4. Marketing
  5. Psychology
  6. Communication
  7. Public Health
  8. Neuroscience
  9. Accounting
  10. Biology
  11. Environmental Studies

Commencement speaker: Engels Tejeda (’03)

Engels Tejeda is a trial attorney at Holland & Hart in Salt Lake City. He represents primarily businesses in state and federal court. His areas of specialty include consumer protection defense, data breach and privacy investigations, financial disputes and bankruptcy, and he focuses on the renewable energy industry and rooftop solar sector. Tejeda served as a public affairs non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1999–2007, including two active-duty deployments to Iraq and Kosovo, during which he helped develop and implement a media and public affairs program. He received the Army’s commendation and achievement medals, the NATO medal, the National Defense Service Medal and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Tejeda graduated from Westminster College cum laude in 2003 with a B.A. in economics. While he was a student at Westminster, Tejada served as student body president from 2002–03 and received the President’s Leadership Award in 2003. Since that time, he has served as an alumni mentor, helping to support and guide students who are interested in pursuing a career in law. After graduating, he attended the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, where he graduated with his J.D. in 2006. Throughout his legal career, Tejeda has remained committed to the importance and value of giving back to his community and volunteering his legal services on a pro bono basis. Most recently, Tejeda worked with the Dilley Project to provide pro bono legal representation to individuals seeking asylum in the United States. By appointment of the Utah Supreme Court, he serves as a volunteer judge pro tempore for the Salt Lake City Justice Court Small Claims Division. He is actively involved with the Utah Minority Bar Association, Utah Center for Legal Inclusion, Utah Bar Association, the Utah Solar Energy Association, the National LGBT Bar Association and the Hispanic National Bar Association. Tejeda is from the Dominican Republic and currently resides in Salt Lake City.  Tejeda will receive an honorary Master of Arts in Community Leadership (MACL) degree at the ceremony.

Student speaker: Sabi Lowder

Sabi Lowder (pronounced like “Abby” with an “S”) is a Utah native, desert rat and disciple of the Wasatch Range. She shares Westminster’s love of exploration and interdisciplinary learning. Her life has always pivoted around opposing stories, cultures and points of view. With a mother from Afghanistan, a father from rural Idaho and a stepmother from Mexico, she was predisposed to seek common ground in the midst of difference.

Her time at Westminster helped her turn that curiosity into a customized degree in communication and cultural studies. During the summers, she did undergraduate research on sexual violence advocacy and indigenous perspectives and environmental rhetoric. She organized on-campus sexual assault counselor trainings that trained over 40 community members. She served as both student body vice president and president, where she prioritized diversity, student perspectives, community relationships and campus collaboration.

The intimate campus offered a world for Sabi to engage with — and she took advantage of every second of it. But her favorite moment? Saying “Vagina Monologues” at a board of trustees meeting. Westminster created a home for Sabi to explore, a place for questioning and learning. Her experiences outside of the classroom shaped Sabi as an activist and community member. Inside the classroom, especially in the Honors College, she learned to be an active observer and participant in the world around her. Both led her to following her passion of storytelling.

Following graduation, Sabi plans to find common ground through work in documentary filmmaking and writing. She’ll bring what she learned at Westminster into her storytelling and continue to foster a world built on community, empathy, creativity and critical thinking.

Faculty awards:

  • Tiffany Rivera, Ph.D., assistant professor of geology Manford A. and June Shaw Faculty Publication Prize
  • Julián Mendez, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology Manford A. and June Shaw Faculty Publication Prize
  • Jeff Nichols, Ph.D., professor of history Excellence in Teaching Award of the Bill & Vieve Gore Endowment Trust

For more information on Westminster’s commencement events, visit the Commencement webpage.