Starting defensive back Byerson Cockrell claimed his bachelor's degree from Nebraska on Dec. 19.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

35 Huskers Earn Degrees at December Commencement

By NU Athletic Communications

Lincoln - A total of 35 Husker student-athletes earned degrees this weekend at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s commencement exercises at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Saturday morning’s undergraduate commencement featured 34 student-athletes, including four Huskers who earned All-America awards in competition during their time in Lincoln.

Husker volleyball players Cecilia Hall (Linkoping, Sweden) and Alicia Ostrander (Gordon, Neb.) were scheduled to receive their diplomas Saturday morning at 9:30, before representing Coach John Cook’s Nebraska volleyball team in the NCAA Championship match at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha on Saturday evening at 6:30.

Coach Mike Riley’s Nebraska football program made up nearly one-third of the graduating class of student-athletes, as 11 current or former Huskers received their diplomas on Saturday. Starting offensive linemen Ryne Reeves (Crete, Neb.) and Zach Sterup (Hastings, Neb.) and starting defensive linemen Jack Gangwish (Wood River, Neb.) and Vincent Valentine (Edwardsville, Ill.), along with starting defensive back Byerson Cockrell (Columbus, Miss.) highlight the list of football graduates. Other Husker football players who received their diplomas and are ready to play in Nebraska’s appearance at the Foster Farms Bowl (Dec. 26) with degree in hand include Tyson Broekemeier (Aurora, Neb.), Daniel Davie (Beatrice, Neb.), Anthony Ridder (West Point, Neb.) and David Sutton (Lincoln, Neb.). Other Huskers earning degrees Saturday were Sam Burtch (Murdock, Neb.) and Joe Keels (Kenosha, Wis.).

Coach Darin Erstad’s Nebraska baseball program added a half-dozen graduates to the total of Husker student-athletes with Austin Darby (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Blake Headley (Omaha, Neb.), Kyle Kubat (Waterloo, Neb.), Michael Pritchard (Omaha, Neb.), Josh Roeder (Plano, Texas) and Chance Sinclair (Spring Hill, Kan.) all claiming their bachelor’s degrees. Pritchard (2012) and Sinclair (2014) were both All-Americans on the field at Nebraska, while Headley (20th round) and Roeder (21st round) were both selected in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft.

Coach John Walker’s women’s soccer program contributed four graduates to the mix, including Samantha Areman (Firth, Neb.), Jourden Casey (Omaha, Neb.), Mayme Conroy (Omaha, Neb.) and Ari Romero (Surprise, Ariz.). Romero captured NSCAA All-America honors as a senior in 2013 while leading the Huskers to the Big Ten Conference title. She went on to compete for the Mexican National Team at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Coach Gary Pepin’s track and field program added three graduates, including Ellie Ewere (Hillsborough, N.J.) and Tristen Sharp (South Sioux City, Neb.) on the women’s side. Ewere was a first-team All-American in the outdoor triple jump in 2014. London Hawk (South Holland, Ill.) represents the men’s track and field program.

Coach Robin Krapfl’s women’s golf program added a pair of current seniors in Morgan Smejkal (Columbus, Neb.) and Cassidy Stelzmiller (Placerville, Calif.) to the list of Husker student-athlete graduates. Smejkal and Stelzmiller will represent the Huskers on the course during the 2016 spring season.

Nebraska’s list of student-athletes earning degrees at undergraduate commencement Saturday also includes Ross Dickson (Men’s Golf, London, England), Desire’ Stephens (Women’s Gymnastics, Omaha, Neb.), Josh Ungar (Men’s Gymnastics, Longmeadow, Mass.), Kelsey Hansen (Rifle, Minot, N.D.), Natalie Morris (Swimming & Diving, Lenexa, Kan.) and Izabella Zgierska (Women’s Tennis, Miesbach, Germany)

The Nebraska men’s basketball program contributed a master’s degree to the Husker graduation list, as Moses (Ayegba) Abraham (Kano, Nigeria) earned his advanced degree in applied science. Abraham was part of Nebraska’s graduate and doctoral hooding ceremonies at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Friday at 3 p.m.

NU’s December 2015 graduates came from near and far to call Nebraska home during their careers. The group came to Lincoln from 12 states, including 18 native Nebraskans, while four Huskers came from foreign lands, including England, Germany, Nigeria and Sweden.

Nebraska continues to feature one of the highest graduation rates in the country, while leading the nation in the number of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans (320) and NCAA Top 10 Award winners (17) across all sports.

December 2015 Nebraska Student-Athlete Graduates (35)

Samantha Areman (Soccer) - Firth, Neb. - Marketing
*Moses (Ayegba) Abraham (Men’s Basketball) - Kano, Nigeria - Applied Science
Tyson Broekemeier (Football) - Aurora, Neb. - Business Administration
Sam Burtch (Football) - Murdock, Neb. - Communication Studies
Jourden Casey (Soccer) - Omaha, Neb. - Advertising & Public Relations
Byerson Cockrell (Football) - Columbus, Miss. - Sociology
Mayme Conroy (Soccer) - Omaha, Neb. - Child, Youth & Family Studies
Austin Darby (Baseball) - Colorado Springs, Colo. - Nutrition, Exercise & Health Science
Daniel Davie (Football) - Beatrice, Neb. - Criminology & Criminal Justice
Ross Dickson (Men’s Golf) - London, England - Advertising & Public Relations
Ellie Ewere (Women’s Track & Field) - Hillsborough, N.J. - History
Jack Gangwish (Football) - Wood River, Neb. - Agricultural Economics
Cecilia Hall (Volleyball) - Linkoping, Sweden - Biochemistry
Kelsey Hansen (Rifle) - Minot, N.D. - Biological Sciences
London Hawk (Men’s Track & Field) - South Holland, Ill. - Child, Youth & Family Studies
Blake Headley (Baseball) - Omaha, Neb. - Criminology & Criminal Justice
Joe Keels (Football) - Kenosha, Wis. - Sociology
Kyle Kubat (Baseball) - Waterloo, Neb. - Nutrition Science
Natalie Morris (Swimming & Diving) - Lenexa, Kan. - Elementary & Special Education K-6
Alicia Ostrander (Volleyball) - Gordon, Neb. - Political Science
Michael Pritchard (Baseball) - Omaha, Neb. - Criminology & Criminal Justice
Ryne Reeves (Football) - Crete, Neb. - Economics
Anthony Ridder (Football) - West Point, Neb. - Psychology
Josh Roeder (Baseball) - Plano, Texas - Management
Ari Romero (Soccer) - Surprise, Ariz. - Business Administration
Tristen Sharp (Women’s Track & Field) - South Sioux City, Neb. - Special Education 7-12
Chance Sinclair (Baseball) - Spring Hill, Kan. - Business Administration
Morgan Smejkal (Women’s Golf) - Columbus, Neb. - Management/Marketing
Cassidy Stelzmiller (Women’s Golf) - Placerville, Calif. - Accounting
Desire’ Stephens (Women’s Gymnastics) - Omaha, Neb. - Advertising & Public Relations/English
Zach Sterup (Football) - Hastings, Neb. - Economics/Finance
David Sutton (Football) - Lincoln, Neb. - Management/Marketing
Josh Ungar (Men’s Gymnastics) - Longmeadow, Mass. - Nutrition Science
Vincent Valentine (Football) - Edwardsville, Ill. - Sociology
Izabella Zgierska (Women’s Tennis) - Miesbach, Germany - Business Administration

*master’s degree, graduated Friday at 3 p.m.


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