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### Utica University Reveals Guest Speakers for 2024 Graduation Ceremony

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UTICA, N.Y. – Utica University has revealed the lineup of speakers set to address attendees at this year’s undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies.

Dr. Amanda Saravia-Butler, a distinguished 2009 Utica University graduate and current GeneLab project scientist at NASA, is slated to deliver the commencement speech at the undergraduate ceremony on May 9.

Dr. Amanda Saravia-Butler

Dr. Amanda Saravia-Butler, originally from Upstate New York, holds three Bachelor’s degrees from Utica University in Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics. She transitioned from being a molecular biologist to a bioinformatician and now serves as the Science and Data Processing Lead at NASA Ames Research Center for the GeneLab project.

During her time as an undergraduate student, Amanda engaged in microbiology research leading to the discovery of a new bacterial species. She also actively participated in various extracurricular activities, including captaining both the Utica University Cross Country and Softball teams, and assuming leadership roles in campus organizations such as the Mathematics Club and Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS).

Amanda further pursued her academic journey by obtaining a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a focus on Cancer Biology from the Mayo Clinic. Her doctoral research involved identifying and characterizing novel molecular targets for pancreatic cancer treatment. Subsequently, she conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Miami, focusing on early germ line development, before joining NASA Ames Research Center in 2017.

Amanda’s dedication to space biology led her to actively participate in the GeneLab project since May 2018. She currently spearheads GeneLab for Colleges and Universities (GL4U), an initiative offering bioinformatics training in space biology to students and educators through platforms like SMCE and NSF ACCESS.

The information above was provided by Utica University.

Dr. Tennille Haynes, an alumna of the 2009 graduate program and associate dean at Princeton University, will be the keynote speaker at the graduate ceremony on May 10.

Dr. Tennille T. Haynes

Posessing over 18 years of experience in higher education, Dr. Tennille T. Haynes has dedicated her career to fostering inclusive environments and advocating for the well-being and sense of belonging of individuals from marginalized communities.

In her role as the Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at Princeton University, Tennille is recognized for her leadership in student affairs, advising, and advocating for diversity, inclusion, and social justice. She actively engages in examining and transforming systems and policies that historically marginalized certain communities, aiming to create spaces that empower individuals with marginalized identities.

A native of the Bronx, New York, Tennille pursued her academic passions by earning a Bachelor’s degree in History from Stony Brook University, a Master’s degree in Education from Utica University in 2009, and a doctorate from Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education.

The information above was provided by Utica University.

Utica University’s tradition of selecting accomplished alumni as commencement speakers highlights their professional achievements and contributions to society.

The undergraduate ceremony is set to take place on Thursday, May 9, at 5:00 p.m. in the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

The graduate ceremony is scheduled for Friday, May 10, at 10:00 a.m. in the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.