While the University of North Texas made the difficult decision to postpone commencement ceremonies, there's still plenty to celebrate in these inspiring stories of our recent CLASS graduates.
You may recognize Kendal Lyssy from her quest for a service dog on the Disney+ original series, "Pick of the Litter."
Kendal and her sister Nikki shared their experiences living as visually impaired twins on campus with the documentary's camera crew following their daily routines at Santa Fe residence hall and other UNT spots.
The communication studies major initially came to UNT to pursue a degree in converged broadcast media. Kendal wanted to be a radio DJ, but after taking a couple of communication courses, she changed her major and hasn't regretted it for a second.
"I found a home in the major, and I'm so grateful I decided to pick UNT," says Kendal.
After graduating, she'll continue her education in communication studies at UNT, pursuing a master's while working as a teaching assistant for the department. Eventually, she'd like to also get her Ph.D. in the same field and become a professor.
Kendal is a remarkable student. She's a member of the National Communication Honor Society, the UNT Debate Team and COMM Future Pros.
"Each organization has given me an outlet to make a difference, meet amazing life-long friends and gain connections with professors that I otherwise would not have had. I met some of my best friends through my involvement," says Kendal.
To incoming freshmen, Kendal recommends engaging with student organizations and clubs.
"My biggest piece of advice for freshmen is to pick a major you love. If you love your major the way I love communication studies, you will be excited to go to class and learn. I would also strongly encourage freshmen to find extracurricular organizations in and outside of their major."
Kendal successfully completed a full academic research project on peer mentoring in graduate school and earned an undergraduate research fellowship with the help and guidance of her mentor Karen Anderson-Lain, who serves as the basic communication course director and a principal lecture in the Department of Communication Studies. Because of the project, Kendal presented her study at UNT's Virtual Scholar's Day. She's the only undergraduate in the department to have presented at two national conferences. Kendal is also a past recipient of the department's Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award and the Cathy Krendl Service Award for the debate team.
"All of my professors throughout my time at UNT have assisted me in succeeding in their courses. They were all open to accommodating my learning style and were so approachable. I always felt as though I could ask them questions and they were always so willing to explain concepts further," says Kendal. "I am so indebted to the faculty who have had a part in my success at UNT."
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the move to online course delivery, Kendal says her biggest challenge has been being away from the UNT community.
"While online learning ensures I'll still receive a top-notch education, I really miss my peers and professors," says Kendal.
Kendal misses spending time with her friends and, although they can use FaceTime to call one another, she can't wait to hang out with them once it's safe again.
UNT is Kendal's home away from home where she's surrounded by people who come from all different walks of life.
"We are such a diverse community and on any given day I get to talk to people who have amazing stories and experiences that are completely different from my own."
Integrity and respect are huge components of the Mean Green nation and she's proud of being part of the UNT family.
"The way we look out for each other and stand up for one another makes me proud."
See all of the Spring 2020 UNT Great Grads here.