Commencement 2019 Speakers

Authored By: mknutson 05/14/2019

More than 80 students will receive their degrees at the University of Minnesota Rochester’s (UMR) commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18. The following were selected to speakers at commencement.

Xavier Prat-ResinaXavier Prat-Resina, PhD, a chemistry professor with UMR’s Center for Learning Innovation will provide the keynote for the ceremony. Prat-Resina has an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the University of Barcelona, Spain. He completed his Master’s degree at the University of Bologna, Italy and went to the Autonomous University of Barcelona for his PhD in theoretical chemistry. He came to the United States in 2005 with a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His inclination towards teaching and research on student learning and other major forces led him to the University of Minnesota Rochester.

Words for the graduating class of 2019:
“I hope UMR has helped our graduates realize that success is not an external but an internal criterion. After college, there's no more GPA to measure your ‘amount of work,’ and hopefully, we do a good job recognizing not only those who get good grades but also those who find a purpose and their own source of motivation.”


Shanna SextonShanna Sexton of Elgin, Minn. will be receiving her Bachelor of Science in Health Professions. She became interested in UMR after shadowing a radiographer at Mayo Clinic. She learned about the radiography career from her mom who started studying to become one but postponed her studies to raise a family. Talking with her mom piqued her interest to look further into the program.

Post-graduation, Sexton will work full-time as a radiologic technologist at Mayo Clinic.

Advice to current UMR students:
“Take advantage of  UMR, an amazing health sciences and health professions institution. Compared to other places and programs, there’s so much more to see and experience here. Put your best foot forward and know that your actions are being reflected in those around you. Have fun, enjoy your time while you have it.”


Lis PearsonElisabeth Pearson of Cottage Grove, Minn. will be receiving her Bachelor Science in Health Sciences.

She transferred to UMR from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in search of a smaller campus and has been grateful for the opportunities and resources UMR has offered her. While at UMR, she has had the opportunity to participate in nuSURF (Nephrology & Urology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship), a research program with Mayo Clinic where she has studied Polycystic Kidney Disease. Her participation in nuSURF led her to attend the 2018 KUH Summer Symposium at Harvard where she met Dr. Gregory Germino of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Post-graduation, Pearson will begin a two-year fellowship at NIH under Dr. Germino’s guidance before applying for MD-PhD programs.

Advice to students:
"UMR has set me up for success and taught me professional development and networking skills. I value the professors and my peers at UMR. They are the most supportive group of people I have found. They have been by my side and rooting for me from day one, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people these past four years."