Senior Advisor to Governor to Speak at USU Eastern Commencement


USU Eastern Press Release

Michael Mower, senior advisor to Utah Governor Spencer Cox, will be the commencement speaker at Utah State University Eastern’s commencement ceremony. The ceremony will be conducted in person inside the Bunnell-Dmitrich Athletic Center on April 30, 2022, honoring the class of 320 graduates who have earned 370 degrees and certificates.

Commencement will be conducted by Associate Vice President Greg Dart. Prior to the remarks of Mower, class valedictorian Ella Bradley and student body president Bryson Pugh will each be student speakers. Dart will then introduce Mower, who will deliver the commencement address.

Following the remarks of Mower, Dart will introduce the Val J. Halamandaris Caring Award recipient, Stevie Hanna. This will be followed by the conferring of degrees by USU President Noelle E. Cockett. Laurel Cannon Alder, USU Alumni President, will conclude the ceremony with a greeting to graduates, followed by the recessional.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. For more information, visit

Mike Mower – Senior Advisor to Governor Spencer Cox

Mike Mower serves as a Senior Advisor to Utah Governor Spencer Cox. Prior to this, Mower held other positions in the Utah Governor’s Office, including time as Deputy Chief of Staff to both Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. and Gary R. Herbert. He is currently the longest serving senior staff member of any governor’s office in the nation.

In his role, he oversees Community and Intergovernmental Relations for Gov. Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson. Mower has worked for one mayor, two U.S. Congressmen and three Utah Governors. Mower has served on many boards and commissions, including the Utah Bar Association, the Utah Prison Relocation Commission, the Utah Valley University Board of Trustees, the S. J. Quinney College of Law at University of Utah Alumni Association, the Provo-Orem Chamber of Commerce, the Truth Initiative, and the J. Reuben Clark, Jr. Farm and Homestead Advisory Board.

Mower was raised in the incredible town of Ferron, Utah. He worked milking cows for Lemon’s Dairy and served as student body president of Emery County High School. He received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and his juris doctor degree from the S. J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. He is married to Liz Smith Mower and they are the parents of seven children.

Ella Bradley – Valedictorian

A key member of the USU Eastern woman’s basketball team, Bradley joined USU Eastern in Fall of 2020. Born in London, England, Bradley spent her first five years living in north London where she started her Montessori schooling journey. When her parents returned to New Zealand, Bradley moved from a city of nine million to the small town of Cambridge in the North Island. Her love of sports quickly became apparent in the outdoor and sports mad country. She played several sports competitively through secondary school and won numerous awards and national titles prior to leaving school.

Her love of basketball began at St. Peter’s Cambridge, a private Anglican secondary school where the head coach was ex-New Zealand Tall Fern and two-time Olympian, Leanne Walker. As a New Zealand age group representative, Bradley played basketball in Australia, India, Malaysia, Greece and Belarus. In addition to her sporting successes, Bradley achieved academic honors and became a school prefect, graduating high school in 2019.

An opportunity to continue with her basketball and academic goals became available at USU Eastern and she began her Associate of Science degree, looking to continue her studies in chemistry, biology and calculus. After a successful first year despite the COVID pandemic, Bradley returned to complete her degree and has achieved a GPA of 4.0 and a 98th-percentile result across all colleges in her ACS final exam in the fall for chemistry. Bradley attributes her success to her lecturers and coaches allowing her to balance her time between the classroom and court.

Madison Bennett – Salutatorian

Madison Bennett, the daughter of Ray and Michelle Bennett, grew up in Aurora, Utah and graduated with a 4.0 GPA from North Sevier High School with the class of 2020. During high school, Bennett was actively involved in student government, Rho Kappa, National Honor Society, volleyball, softball, drill team and track. Bennett enjoys spending her time hunting, snowboarding, boating, camping and being with her family and friends. She has a passion for service and helping others, which helped her to be accepted as a HOBY Utah Ambassador her sophomore year and she has gone back as a staff member ever since.

A HOBY Leadership Scholarship helped lead Bennett to USU Eastern, where she has obtained her associate degree in General Studies and plans to graduate with her bachelor’s degree next spring, where she is majoring in psychology and minoring in criminal justice. During her time at USU Eastern, Bennett has worked as an assistant to the Director of Operations and has loved the opportunity of being involved in campus operations and getting to work with a variety of people on campus.

After her time at USU Eastern, Bennett plans to continue her education by attending graduate school or a law program, where she will strive to make a career out of helping children. Bennett loves the atmosphere at USU Eastern and is thankful for the opportunity to be this year’s salutatorian.

Bryson Pugh – Student Body President

Pugh is a current sophomore at Utah State University Eastern. Raised in the small town of Bluebell, Utah, he’s the seventh of his siblings to attend USU Eastern. During Pugh’s freshman year, he immediately went to work in the service of his fellow students and community. He got involved as the Vice President of the Serving Utah Network (SUN) Center, where he partnered with the campus community to plan and execute service projects. Still in his first year of college, he ran for and was elected President of the Eastern Utah Student Association (EUSA).

As EUSA President, Pugh has supported USU Eastern’s student events, organizations and community college athletic teams. He has advanced initiatives related to mental health, safety and equity on the campus. He set a productive precedent of collaboration with USU student leaders from around the state and meaningfully contributed to the Utah State University Student Association (USUSA), Statewide Executive Council and Utah Student Association (committee of Utah student body presidents). He has strongly advocated for and elevated concerns of USU Eastern’s statewide students and assisted in optimizing many USUSA policies. Pugh has worked diligently to unify all USU students across the state.

Pugh is studying biology and plans to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. He loves rural communities, and he hopes to return to his hometown and expand their accessible medical resources.

Stevie Hanna – Val J. Halamandaris Award

Hanna is a resident of Price and has been for the last 20 years. She has always had a love for service and caring for others. During high school, she was a member of the Carbon High drill team, where she participated in many service events. A few projects Hanna was involved with were cleaning out mud and water from the houses in Wellington after the 2017 floods, Christmas caroling at nursing homes, and participating in the United Way Day of Caring, where the community comes together to complete service projects around the community.

Once Hanna advanced into her college years, she was a member of the SUN Center at USU Eastern for two years. The SUN Center did too many service projects throughout each school year to count, but her favorite was always helping out at Kiwanis Kid’s Day.

She has worked as a CNA at a retirement home for the last year. Hanna loves every moment taking care of her residents. Hanna developed a love for the healthcare profession ever since taking the CNA course in 2019. This year, Hanna was accepted into the Nursing PN program to continue her education and plans to advance into the ADN program next year. She has always had a love for caring for others and nursing was a perfect fit. She is thankful for her experiences at USU Eastern and everyone who has helped her along the way.

For more information on USU’s 135th commencement, visit the commencement website.

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