Winter commencement to feature keynote by Dr. Zelideth Rivas

Marshall’s 2018 Winter Commencement, which takes place Saturday, Dec. 15, will honor more than 1200 students who graduated in July or August 2018, or are tentatively scheduled to graduate in December. Dr. Zelideth Rivas, an associate professor of modern languages at Marshall University and recipient of the Reynolds Outstanding Teaching Award last spring, will be the featured speaker.

The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.  With new security measures in place at the arena, family and friends may want to arrive early. The doors open at 8 a.m.

Among the 1,278 students who received or are about to receive degrees are 740 undergraduates and 538 with graduate degrees. About 600 students have indicated they plan to participate in the ceremony. They will be recognized individually, walking to the area in front of the stage where their names will be announced, and they will receive congratulations from President Jerome Gilbert and a scroll from the Marshall Alumni Association.

Registrar Dr. Sonja Cantrell said 228 students will graduate with honors. Thirty-one will graduate summa cum laude (3.85 to 4.0 GPA), 65 magna cum laude (3.6 to 3.84 GPA), and 115 cum laude (3.3 to 3.59 GPA). Two students receiving associate degrees will graduate with high honors, and 15 associate degree recipients will graduate with honors.

Based on tentative grade point averages, four students will complete their baccalaureate degrees with perfect 4.0 GPAs. They are as follows:

  • Hannah Faith Basham, Lester, West Virginia, College of Science, B.S., Biological Sciences
  • Hannah Marie Eastman, Horner, West Virginia, College of Education and Professional Development, B.A., Elementary Education
  • Brandon Michael Harvey, Cross Lanes, West Virginia, College of Science, B.S., Chemistry
  • John Alex Muncy, Kermit, West Virginia, College of Liberal Arts, B.A., Psychology

Rivas joined Marshall University in 2012.  She received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College in Massachusetts and completed her doctoral work at the University of California-Berkley.

A native of Puerto Rico, who grew up in New Jersey, Rivas has received several fellowships and awards for teaching.

"I teach because, for me, there is no greater accomplishment as a scholar than inspiring your students to learn," Rivas said. "I encourage my students to critically engage their syllabi and make their education their own."

Marshall began conducting a winter graduation ceremony in 2008 with a convocation at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.


Photo: Dr. Zelideth Rivas, associate professor of modern languages, will speak at the Winter Commencement Dec. 15.



Parking is available in the parking garage on Third Avenue across from the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. Parking in this garage is available on weekends at no charge. In addition, parking is available in the Pullman Square garages for a minimal fee. All three parking garages are in reasonable walking distance of the arena.

The Big Sandy Superstore Arena and Convention Center has implemented security procedures including walk-through metal detectors for all events occurring in the building including Marshall University’s commencement ceremonies. Graduates and guests should allow additional time to make it through security and find seats before the ceremony begins.

Prohibited items include: illegal drugs or substances, outside food and drink, knives, guns, pepper spray, lasers, glow sticks, fireworks, wallet chains, sharp spiked jewelry, selfie sticks, tripods and umbrellas. For a full list of prohibited items, please visit

The professional photographer Grad Images ( will e-mail proof information to graduates a few days after the ceremony. Purchase of photographs is entirely optional.

The Commencement ceremonies will be streamed live on the web. The link will be available on the main Marshall University website at