May 2, 2022

Utah State University Uintah Basin Celebrates Class of 2022


Utah State University Uintah Basin is proud to celebrate its class of 2022, comprised of 127 Uintah Basin community members. The Class of 2022 consists of individuals earning 75 associate, 53 bachelor’s, nine master’s degrees and one graduate certificate. The graduation ceremony was April 30.

“It is truly an exciting occasion to be here with you today to celebrate the achievements of our graduates in the presence of so many family members and friends,” said James Y. Taylor, associate vice president. “These 127 graduates are a diverse group, each with their own journey and are worthy of celebration.”

USU Uintah Basin celebrated graduates with a ceremony at the Uintah Conference Center in Vernal. Taylor welcomed the graduates and announced two student awards: Yvette Rea as Outstanding Undergraduate Student and Vanessa Liesik as Outstanding Graduate Student. Taylor then introduced the keynote and student speaker.

Thao Chau, who received an associate degree in general studies and is continuing to pursue a career in nursing, then addressed the audience as the student speaker. Chau spoke on how the students in the audience had followed their dreams and achieved a major milestone.

“Most of us constantly struggle ?nding balance in our very busy lifestyles containing family, careers and college,” Chau said. “Fortunately for us, we can check one of these o? today. Today is a special day in that it represents years of sacri?ce, courage and passion.”

Kosi Colin, a CTE teacher at Vernal Middle School and co-founder of a nonprofit project called Transkei Life that operates as an after-school program in South Africa, then shared her life story with the audience as the commencement keynote speaker. Starting as a poor young girl in South Africa, Colin followed her dream of learning English and getting a college degree. Sharing experiences of being expelled from kindergarten, battling tuberculosis in high school and choosing which days she could eat on her $10 a month food budget during college, Colin emphasized that it is not how you start, it is how you finish.

“I am not standing in front of you today, trying to brag about what I have become,” she said. “I am standing in front of all of you today, sharing my life story of how I started. Where I come from, the kind of struggles I have had to endure. If you can relate to those struggles, maybe you can understand that your struggles do not define you, they are not going to write your ending but are going to make up your story.”

USU President Noelle E. Cockett then addressed the students and conferred the degrees. The celebration concluded with a welcome address from Kim Larsen, associate vice president and executive director of the USU Alumni Association.

Prior to the ceremony, Vice President of Statewide Campuses Larry Smith acknowledged faculty members Marla Robertson and Amy Piotrowski who were promoted from Assistant to Associate Professor and received tenure. The following campus awards were also presented:

Kyle Snow

Outstanding Alumni Engagement

Dennis Garner

Outstanding Faculty Member

Seth Lyman

Outstanding Faculty Researcher of the Year

Vanessa Liesik

Outstanding Graduate Student

Yvette Rea

Outstanding Undergraduate Student

Kevan Ercanbrack

Outstanding Staff Member

Susan Harrison

Outstanding Facilitator

Operating campuses in Vernal and Roosevelt for more than 50 years, Utah State University Uintah Basin gives students the personalized attention and small class sizes of a small-town college with the resources of a large university, all in the backdrop of the outdoor oasis that is the Uinta Mountains and Ashley National Forest. With degree options ranging from associate to doctorate degrees and more than 125 programs available, as well as access to the renowned Bingham Research Center, USU Uintah Basin offers programs that help fuel local economies and empower individuals and their communities. Learn more at

James Y. Taylor
Associate Vice President
Uintah Basin 

James Y. Taylor
Associate Vice President
Uintah Basin 

Also from Statewide Campuses