Posthumous degrees for Nahje Flowers and Kiana Caalim unanimously approved the Academic, Student Affairs and Research Committee Thursday, signaling approvals at an upcoming Regent’s meeting. 

Flowers died November 5, 2019. Caalim died on December 11, 2019. 

“The University of New Mexico recognizes that earning a degree is a matter of legitimate pride of achievement not only for students themselves but also for the family members and friends who provide students with vitally important support,” read Caalim and Flowers’ posthumous degree request form. 

Caalim majored in Community Health Education, according to the request form. She worked as a swim instructor at Sports and Wellness, according to her obituary. At UNM, she interned at UNM Campus Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (COSAP). 

Lisa Lindquist, who presented the degree proposals, said Caalim died from a terminal disease. 

“Being a young African American male athlete, I think that I am different than a lot of other people in the Interpreting field,” Flower wrote in a May letter. He was attempting to join UNM’s Signed Language Interpreting Program. 

Flowers played a defensive line on the UNM Football team before his death. In his letter, Flowers said he struggled to find an academic path at UNM — until he found the Signed Language Interpreting Program.

“It wasn’t easy, but I felt like it was something I finally was interested in and wanted to go to class for,” Flowers wrote.  

In November 2019, Flowers committed suicide, according to the Albuquerque Police Department. 

The full Board of Regents will vote on approving the degrees May 12. 

Justin Garcia is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @Just516garc