UPIKE Commencement ceremonies set for May 6

The University of Pikeville (UPIKE) will honor students earning degrees in undergraduate, graduate and health professions on Saturday, May 6, at the Appalachian Wireless Arena in downtown Pikeville. The ceremony for the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM) and the Kentucky College of Optometry (KYCO) will take place at 9 a.m., and the ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences, the Coleman College of Business, the College of Nursing and Human Services and the Patton College of Education will take place at 2 p.m. Graduates and families who would prefer to celebrate virtually will be able to watch any of the ceremonies via livestream on UPIKE’s Facebook page.

The keynote speaker for the health professions ceremony will be retired Optometrist and UPIKE Board of Trustees’ member Ronald Gene McCoy, O.D. McCoy is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University. He received his doctor of optometry medicine from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee.

McCoy was in private optometric practice for 41 years in Pikeville, Kentucky. He is a lifetime member of the Kentucky Optometric Association and the American Optometric Association. During his career, he was a member of the Lions Club, served on the board of Habitat for Humanity, and traveled on eye care mission trips to Lima, Peru. He exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism and commitment through his outstanding contributions to the local community and service initiatives. To honor McCoy, KYCO created the Ronald McCoy Community Service Award to honor a graduate that embodies the same spirit of service. As an avid golfer, McCoy has served on the board of directors at the Green Meadow Country Club in Pikeville for more than twenty years. He is an active member of the Gideons International local chapter and a member of the Pikeville United Methodist Church, serving on various committees and boards. 

The keynote speaker for the undergraduate ceremony will be UPIKE alum Josh Samarco. Samarco hails from Ypsilanti, Michigan. He is a first-generation student who obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 2010 from UPIKE and has a Master of Arts in Ministerial Leadership from Wesley Seminary.  

During his time at UPIKE, he was an NAIA All-American. Samarco holds the record for most three-pointers in a game with eight and most in a season with 99. He was inducted into the UPIKE Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019.

Samarco has spent the past 11 years serving in pastoral ministry, primarily youth ministry. He has worked with and spoken to thousands of teens and families. He has been a life coach, basketball coach, mentor and youth advocate. Samarco serves on staff at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as the admissions manager of diversity recruitment and engagement. In the fall of 2021, he launched Merch That Matters to remind people that their life and story matters. He is currently working on finishing his first book. 

For more ceremony information, visit upike.edu/commencement.