JayJay Porcadilla, the 2019-20 Student Government Association president and one of two recipients of the Student Achievement Award, delivered the commencement address for May 15’s virtual spring commencement ceremony.
His remarks reflected on the many different paths UCCS students walked to reach their graduation day, and celebrated all that the Class of 2020 has achieved.
“Today is to reflect on all of our accomplishments,” Porcadilla remarked. “It’s not easy getting here. We have jobs and home lives. Some of us are nontraditional. Some of us had hardships. Some of us served in the military. Some of us are raising the kids of the future.”
He continued, “Some of us struggled filling out the form to graduate, because it took us more than four years – and that’s okay. Because one thing is for sure: we are proud Mountain Lions. We hold true to our past, keeping it close, and never losing sight of our goals.”
Porcadilla, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communication, structured his speech around advice gleaned from defining films of many graduates’ childhoods – namely, those that are now available on Disney+.
Quoting “Mulan,” Porcadilla reminded graduates that “the flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all.” Quoting “Pocahontas,” he told the Class of 2020, “If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew.”
And he shared his personal favorite, from “Finding Nemo”: “Just keep swimming.”
Finally, Porcadilla reminded the Class of 2020 that graduating in the midst of a pandemic was just one defining characteristic of their class.
“We are a great class because we are part of history,” he said. “Persevering and completing a degree in the face of a pandemic? We didn’t sit around and wait. We took action. We made scholarships. We made opportunities. We rose above all else.”
“This is what it means to be a Mountain Lion,” he concluded. “We rise to the occasion. We let nothing stop us. We are great – we are the Class of 2020.”
The heartfelt remarks are perhaps best summed up by another Disney quote, this one from the movie “Up”: “Thanks for the adventure. Now go have a new one.”
Porcadilla spoke to the graduates as one of two Student Achievement Award winners. UCCS conferred degrees on more than 1,500 students during the main May 15 virtual ceremony. The ceremony featured messages from notable alumni, elected officials and the conferral of doctorate, master’s and bachelor’s degrees. It welcomed the graduates into the alumni association and featured Porcadilla as the keynote speaker. Each of UCCS’ six colleges also offered a personalized ceremony celebrating individual degree recipients.