Class Notes Summer 2023


R. Wayne Pace BS’53 is professor emeritus of organizational leadership in the Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University, and has taught at a number of universities in Australia, among others. Author of more than 20 books, he specializes in HR development, organizational communication, and individual and organizational change, and has served as a corporate advisor. Founding president of the Academy of Human Resource Development, the AHRD years later named their book award for him, and he has received numerous other honors for his research and scholarly excellence. He has served as president of the International Communication Association and several others, along with 50 other positions in professional associations.


Patricia Sparks

Patricia Sparks MD’75 has published the memoir Making the Rounds: Defying Norms in Love and Medicine, named one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Indie Books of 2022. Written under the pen name Patricia Grayhall, the book chronicles coming of age during second-wave feminism and striving to have both love and career as a lesbian doctor. Sparks says, “This book is relevant to all marginalized people who are struggling to fulfill dreams that others take for granted.”


Rudy Barela

Rudy Barela BS’83 and his husband, David Karjola, have endowed a scholarship now housed in the LGBT Resource Center. The Barela-Karjola Scholarship will be awarded to students with financial need, with preference for those earning business or nursing degrees who are committed to serving the LGBTQ+ community through their chosen career fields. Barela is a CPA and regional controller for Granite Construction, and Karjola is in real estate.

Kathy Fagan

Kathy Fagan PhD’87 recently published her sixth poetry collection, Bad Hobby, a meditation focused on memory, class, and might-have-beens. Fagan is cofounder of the MFA program at The Ohio State University, where she teaches poetry, and coedits the Wheeler Poetry Prize Book Series for The Journal and The Ohio State University Press. She is the author of previous collections including Sycamore, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award and for which she was named the Ohio Poet of the Year; MOVING & ST RAGE, winner of the Vassar Miller Prize; and The Raft, winner of the National Poetry Series. Her work has appeared in such esteemed venues as the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Poetry, The Nation, the New Republic, Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day. She has served poetry residencies at The Frost Place, Yaddo, and MacDowell, and has been awarded fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Jean Hill BS’92 BS’92 JD’95 is the new director of Salt Lake County’s Criminal Justice Advisory Council. Hill was previously the director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace at the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

Kaskade (aka Ryan Raddon BA’95) returns to perform in Utah this summer at the Ogden Twilight concert series. The Grammy-nominated DJ/electronic dance music producer has had numerous Billboard dance chart Top 10 hits, created chart-topping remixes for the likes of Lady Gaga, headlined major music festivals such as Coachella, and collaborated multiple times with Deadmau5. Raddon started DJ-ing as a student at the U and had a radio show on the U’s student-run radio station K-UTE, often featuring his own music. He shares three daughters with wife Naomi Raddon BA’00, a fellow snowboarder whom he met at the U.

John Flores

John Flores MPH’97 received the Meritorious Achievement Award from the Utah Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the state organization’s top honor. A principal lecturer in the public health program at Utah State University, Flores was recognized for his outstanding efforts as a teacher, mentor, and adviser to student and professional AIHA members, both in Utah and throughout the world.

Macey Mott BA’98 BA’98 is a director, actor, and designer who runs the nonprofit theater company Riot Act, Inc., which explores meaningful issues and empowers actors, directors, and playwrights in her hometown of Jackson, Wyo. In her day job, Mott is a travel agent and has worked in the travel industry for more than 20 years.


David G. Derrick, Jr.

Veteran story artist David G. Derrick, Jr. ex’00 is directing the upcoming musical long-form Moana series, expected to debut in 2024. A former head of story at Walt Disney Animation Studios, Derrick’s first project at Disney was the original 2016 Moana feature. Since then, he’s worked as a board artist on the CG remake of The Lion King, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Encanto. He previously spent a decade at DreamWorks, where he storyboarded on How to Train Your Dragon, Rise of the Guardians, Megamind, Bee Movie, and Flushed Away. Derrick is Samoan from his grandmother’s side and spoke in the past about his interest in working on Moana, telling the Boulder Weekly, “When the first Polynesians came to Utah, they were forced to—they were segregated out to—this place called Skull Valley, which they named Iosepa. [My grandmother] died there, and I made a rubbing of her grave and put that up above my desk. [It] reminded me why I was making this film. It was both a thank you and an apology at the same time, thanking her for this rich heritage that most people don’t fully understand and also an apology for the way she was treated.”

Luz Escamilla

Utah State Sen. Luz Escamilla BS’00 MPA’06 spoke at the U’s most recent Latinx Networking Social, hosted by U Alumni and the Latinx Alumni Chapter. The event provides an evening of networking and community building for Latinx alums from different career fields and professions.

Samantha Eldridge

Samantha Eldridge BS’08 MPA’10 is director of the U’s American Indian Resource Center and was a first-generation college student. Originally from Shiprock, New Mexico, Eldridge is Diné and grew up in a remote area on the Navajo Reservation in a home where there was no electricity and water. “My first year at the U was actually the same year the American Indian Resource Center was established,” she notes. “It’s really inspiring to come full circle.” Read more about Eldridge in Humans of the U.

Mark Phelan MS’05, an associate professor of philosophy at Lawrence University, has been chosen to participate in the Council of Independent Colleges’ New Currents in Teaching Philosophy Institute. Selection to the institute is highly competitive and a significant honor in the field of philosophy. Only 33 faculty members were chosen for this year’s gathering.

Oliver Tsuya

Oliver Tsuya BA’09 is a Veteran alum who established the Tsuya-Stephens Endowed Veterans Scholarship at the U with his wife, Billi (who is also a Veteran). Oliver joined the army when he was 17 years old and went to college at the U with the G.I. Bill. “My wife and I both come from a long line of service member families,” he notes. Oliver has worked at the U for more than 10 years with Internal Medicine’s IT group, while Billi works at the U as a physician assistant. He adds, “We realized the importance of giving back to the community and supporting our fellow Veterans.”


Ryan Meeks BA’10 produces and hosts The Path of Art, a podcast that aims to share the insights of creative people—musicians, actors, directors, painters—in hopes of inspiring those on a similar path. Meeks started his career as a graphic designer before shifting to a role as a digital content producer at KSL News Radio.

Marquis Newman

Marquis Newman BS’15 is the new general manager of the Salt Lake City Stars, the official NBA G League affiliate of the Utah Jazz, as of the 2022-23 season. Newman has worked with the Jazz since fall of 2018.

Kenneth Scott

Kenneth Scott BS’15 BS’15 recently delivered a TED Talk discussing the importance of a legacy-driven mindset. A former Utah Football player, Scott spoke in part on his recently published memoir of his late mother, reflecting on her legacy and asking audience members, “How will you be remembered? Who will you leave behind? Because if not you, then who? If not now, then when?”

Megan Townsend

Megan Townsend BS’15 MCP’17 was recognized by Utah Business magazine as a rising star in its annual “20 in their 20s” to watch list. Townsend is community and economic development director for the Wasatch Front Regional Council, which assists local communities with planning and policy. She also serves as board chair for the Seven Canyons Trust nonprofit organization, which she helped to found.

Kerry E. Kelly

Kerry E. Kelly PhD’15, a chemical engineering associate professor at the U, is one of five national winners of the 2022 Women In Science Incentive Prize, which recognizes “innovative female scientists working on solutions to the most pressing environmental issues of our time.” The prize is given out by The Story Exchange, a nonprofit media organization dedicated to elevating women’s voices. Kelly was honored for her research on Utah’s air quality and her work developing and building portable air quality sensors that regular consumers can purchase for their homes.

Emily Nuvan BS’16 BS’16 JD’20 is an associate in the Salt Lake City office of Armstrong Teasdale. She has become her firm’s resident expert in non-fungible tokens—or NFTs—helping people scammed in digital transactions.

Manny Del Rio

Manny Del Rio BS’17 was recognized by Utah Business magazine in its annual “20 in their 20s” feature of rising stars to watch. Del Rio is a vice president with Practice Pathways, a professional finance division of Zions Bank, specializing in complex, high-value loans for medical professionals. Del Rio has worked with Zions for more than six years and previously spent nearly four years with America First Credit Union.


Valerie Cazedessus

In the summer before her sophomore year at the U, Valerie Cazedessus BS’22 realized she wanted to do college a fresh way—in a new place, seeing new people and things. “I looked at online options for fall semester and quickly found four classes that fit within the gen-ed requirements.” She thought about moving to Costa Rica, where her mother is from and which she had visited many times, but finally decided on Oahu, Hawaii. “I had never even visited that island before, but I thought to myself, why not?” She explored several majors before discovering international studies through the College of Humanities, “something I had never even heard about,” and which quickly became her passion. “I was able to complete my sophomore and junior years 100 percent online while living in Hawaii (partly due to the coronavirus, but mostly due to the awesome online options through the U). I even found a study abroad program for my senior year in Spain that I could do simultaneously while having four online classes.” Among her messages for others: “Your college experience can be whatever you want it to be. College is about finding yourself.” She has now started her own portable hammock business and lives part time in Hawaii “and part time everywhere else.”

Nichole Briceno

Nichole Briceno BSW’20, a student at the S.J. Quinney College of Law and treasurer of its Minority Law Caucus, received the 2022-23 Durham Fellowship from the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion. The UCLI stipend will support Briceno’s studies, and she will partner with UCLI on law student programming. During an internship at the District Attorney’s Office, Briceno worked with Spanish-speaking families who were experiencing abuse and undocumented families who feared deportation because they could not afford legal representation. In the future, she hopes to support marginalized communities as an attorney.

Iqan Fadaei

Iqan Fadaei JD’20 was recognized by Utah Business magazine as a rising star in its “20 in their 20s” to watch annual feature. Fadaei is an associate attorney in Michael Best’s Salt Lake City office, where he advises clients on securities and financial services regulation. Outside of work, Fadaei is president of the board of Employ Ukraine, a nonprofit corporation connecting displaced Ukrainians with prospective employers.

What's up with U?

Send updates to


Comments are moderated, so there may be a slight delay. Those that are off-topic or deemed inappropriate may not be posted. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *