Golfing standout and Gold Axe winner Ali Carter will be one of nearly 3,000 NAU graduates earning her diploma this weekend. But Carter will be shaking hands on the golf course instead of on the commencement platform.

The senior elementary education major is one of the most highly decorated golfers in school history and has helped her team capture the Big Sky Conference Championship for the first time since 2002.

The Lumberjacks’ conference title earned them a spot in the NCAA West Regional to be played in Tempe on May 7-9. However, with the third and final round contested on Saturday, attending the College of Education’s graduation ceremonies at the Walkup Skydome will be impossible.

“I would not call it disappointing,” Carter said. “I came here to play golf. The idea that I could finish out my career playing golf is kind of exciting. I wanted to walk, and I would have walked (at graduation). This is a great opportunity, so I wouldn’t pass it up for anything.”

Carter entered her final semester with a 4.00 GPA and has been honored for her success on the course and in the classroom. Last month, she was named the Golden Eagle Female Scholar Athlete of the Year, the highest honor for a student-athlete given by the athletics department. During the same week, the university recognized her as one of 37 students to receive the Gold Axe Award, given for outstanding academic performance, leadership and service to the community. She is also a candidate for Academic All-America honors and the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

Can’t attend? You can still watchNorthern Arizona University’s spring 2009 commencement ceremonies will be webcast May 8 and 9 and will be broadcast live on NPG Cable Channel 4 and University House Channel 9411 on the Dish Network.

Other outstanding students from NAU’s largest-ever graduating class will be crossing the commencement platform in front of friends and family this weekend.

Students from the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences will be honored beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, May 8, in the Walkup Skydome. At
2 p.m. May 8, students from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Master of Administration program will receive their diplomas in the Skydome.

The W.A. Franke College of Business and the College of Health and Human Services will have their ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 9, in the Skydome while College of Education students will celebrate beginning at 2 p.m. May 9.

About 353 graduates from NAU-Yuma programs will hold their commencement in conjunction with Arizona Western College at 8 p.m. Friday, May 15, at Veterans Memorial Stadium, 7150 E. 24th St.