2,350 grads run with Lopez Lomong to NAU finish line

NAU Lumberjack and 2008 Olympic team flag bearer Lopez Lomong talks with Inside NAU TV’s Mitch Strohman last fall about returning to NAU to complete his degree in hotel and restaurant management and training for the 2012 Olympics.

Lopez Lomong, who made a long, difficult run to success at Northern Arizona University, will be one of the standard bearers during NAU’s 2011 fall commencement ceremonies Friday, Dec. 16, in the Walkup Skydome.

The 2011 Arizona Teacher of the Year and an NAU alumnus who has achieved international business success will receive honorary doctoral degrees during the ceremonies.

More than 2,350 students will be awarded their degrees during three ceremonies at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. A detailed schedule can be found here.

One of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Lomong was a child when he escaped Sudanese guerrillas and later was adopted by an American couple in New York. He eventually ran his way to a national championship as part of the NAU Lumberjacks track and field team and from there was chosen as flag bearer for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team in Beijing.

But it is his indefatigable spirit that pushed him to return to NAU after turning pro and led to his earning a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management. As noted in the Los Angeles Times, “For the rest of us, who have generally eaten well, felt safe and experienced total hopelessness only in sad movies, Lomong is a gift. He lights up the room again and puts a Band-Aid on the cynicism.”

Another graduate of NAU also has earned international acclaim, but for a very different reason.

Ahmed A. Subaey, representative director and chief executive officer for S-OIL Corp., graduated in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Subaey has received numerous awards for leadership and his cross-cultural work in Korea, where he resides.

Among his honors are the Most Respected CEO of the Year and the Presidential Award for CEO of the Year from the Korea CEO Association for excellence in sustainability management, both as a foreign CEO in Korea and resulting in S-OIL being listed in the Fortune Global 500 in 2009.

Honoring the Arizona Teacher of the Year is a tradition at NAU. Amanda McAdams, a former practicing attorney who teaches English and student government at Apollo High School in the Phoenix area, is the 2011 recipient as selected by the Arizona Education Foundation.

McAdams earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Claremont McKenna College in California and a law degree from Brigham Young University. She received her teaching certificate from Utah State University.