Photo Courtesy of Daniel Leonardini Daniel Leonardini, right, had his head shaved at Up ‘Til Dawn to fundraise for St. Jude’s. Leonardini is graduating at the end of May.

Photo Courtesy of Daniel Leonardini
Daniel Leonardini, right, had his head shaved at Up ‘Til Dawn to fundraise for St. Jude’s. Leonardini is graduating at the end of May.

Seniors at the University of Nevada, Reno, will be graduating from Thursday, May 18 to Saturday, May 20. Daniel Leonardini is one of the seniors who will be walking across the stage on the Quad to collect his diploma later this month, and as that day approaches, he reflects on what the last four years have meant to him.

“The university shaped my future,” Leonardini said. “UNR provides tons of opportunities and it did for me…I grew as an individual and learned through real life experience.”

He came to UNR because he loved the campus and it was close to home. Since then, he has grown to love the city of Reno because of his involvement in the university. He said the university gave him opportunities to give back to the community as well as develop himself as a person.

Leonardini joined the Kappa Sigma fraternity on campus when he was a freshman. He describes it as the “single best decision he has ever made” and continued to grow as a person through his chapter. He started as the Social Chair and worked his way to becoming the President of the fraternity. He then became the co-chair for the strategic development plan for all of fraternity and sorority life.

“Everything during my college career can be attributed to my fraternity,” said Leonardini.

He also considers his biggest accomplishment when his fraternity won the two highest awards from the Kappa Sigma headquarters and became the first chapter in the fraternity’s history to win the highest award within its first year of being chartered. He was the president while his fraternity earned these awards.

His favorite memory was being a part of the executive board that put together Up ‘Til Dawn, a charity event where students raised money for St. Jude’s by staying up all night and participating in different activities. Students at the university raised $58,000 for St. Jude’s.

“The community did a fantastic job raising money and I am honored I could be a part of it,” Leonardini said. “[It was amazing] putting the event on and getting to see everyone at the university working together for a good cause.”

As memorable as that night was for the students involved, Leonardini will always remember it as the night he shaved his head in front of all the students at Up ‘Til Dawn to show solidarity with those children fighting cancer.

“When my head was being shaved I just felt excitement,” Leonardini said. “I was just happy to be able to do something to help raise money for something so important.”

Leonardini is graduating with two degrees in Economics and International Affairs. He is a policy intern at the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. His duties include analyzing public policy and testifying on bills during committee hearings. He does not know where he will be working after graduation, but he is looking for jobs that will continue his work in public policy.

As he looks back over his four years at UNR, he does not regret anything he has done. He enjoyed getting involved on campus and being able to help people, and because of his experience at the university, he encourages other students to do what he did.

“My advice to younger students is to enjoy college,” Leonardini said. “Live these four or five or six years up. Like everyone says, they will be some of the best years of your life, so enjoy them while you can. The time flies by in an instant. Do everything and anything. Join clubs, do activities. Just have fun while learning.”