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SOU alum, McNair Scholar to deliver commencement address

Erim Gomez

A first-generation college graduate at Southern Oregon University and co-director of the SOU Environmental Resource Center will deliver SOU’s live-streamed commencement address Saturday.

Erim Gomez, a Ph.D. and assistant professor at the University of Montana who received his bachelor’s degree in biology in 2007 from SOU , will headline a list of speakers at a commencement the university is billing as a hybrid day of activities.

During a virtual ceremony scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., students — about 1,000 are slated to receive degrees — will have the opportunity to walk across the stage at Raider Stadium. In addition, individual programs will stage their own virtual or hybrid celebrations, and an in-person, no-guests-allowed photo opportunity at Raider Stadium will be held at 9 a.m.

According to Gomez’s biography page on University of Montana website, he’s also delivered speeches at Gonzaga University, Washington State University and before the Purdue University Northwest McNair Scholars Program’s faculty panel, among others.

After graduating from SOU, Gomez earned his master’s degree and doctorate in natural resources sciences from Washington State University. In 2011 he was awarded the Bullitt Foundation’s Environmental Fellowship, which awards $100,000 over two years of graduate study for students focusing on environmental issues in Washington, Oregon or British Columbia. Gomez currently serves on the board of the Bullitt Foundation.

Gomez was hired last August as an assistant professor of wildlife biology at the University of Montana. He and his brother Edrik, who died in a 2008 helicopter crash, were part of SOU’s McNair Scholarship program.

According to an SOU announcement about Saturday’s plans, in his commencement speech Gomez will talk about “his heartfelt mission to encourage under-represented and other students to pursue and achieve their higher education dreams, and his passion for environmentalism and the sciences.”

A link to the commencement can be found by clicking on the “see commencement details” button on SOU’s homepage (sou.edu).

SOU’s commencement website describes Saturday’s event as “an immersive and professionally produced ceremony that will encompass many of the traditional elements of a SOU commencement, including: posting of colors and Eagle Staff; National Anthem performed by a graduating SOU music student; remarks from SOU President Linda Schott; brief speeches from both a selected graduating student and a main speaker; acknowledgment of the Dankook and Guanajuato awards; conferral of degrees; visual acknowledgment (scrolling names) of all graduates by academic program.”