Since 2012, UCCS has honored alumni who graduated 25 and 50 years ago as Silver and Golden Graduates, respectively. This year, UCCS will recognize 19 Silver Graduates and one Golden Graduate during the virtual Commencement on Dec. 18. These alumni hail from Colorado and 10 other states: Nebraska, Missouri, Alaska, Hawaii, California, Washington, Arizona, South Dakota, North Carolina and Minnesota.
Elizabeth Rees Atayde, B.S. in Nursing ('95), M.S. in Nursing ('00), Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Elizabeth has had a nursing career spanning multiple ventures and locations. “There are so many nursing instructors that I felt impacted my choices for my career. I was also able to use my first degree in biology, chemistry and anthropology to compliment my education.”
Favorite UCCS Memory: “I was able to work and go to school at the same time.”
After graduation, Stephanie worked a crisis shelter for adolescents, then earned a M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Emporia State University and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in forensic and child and family from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a licensed psychologist working in the state hospital in the forensic unit, along with private practice work, primarily evaluations for the courts.
She and her husband, Scott, have been married for 19 years and have two boys, Caleb (age 14) and Noah (age 11).
Favorite UCCS Memory: “My time at UCCS was very different than it is now. When I attended it was a commuter campus only. So, I distinctly recall trying to get up the hill to get to class in the snow, driving my rear-wheel drive car. Not easy!”
“The professors at UCCS were very involved in our training and showed us that they cared. I appreciate all that they did to prepare me for my future as a psychologist.”
After graduating in 1995 as a police officer, Pete went on to serve as chief of the Colorado Springs Police. He retired in 2019 and is now El Paso County undersheriff. Of his four children, three are local law enforcement officers. One graduated with a political science degree from UCCS. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Geri, his kids and 10 grandchildren.
“The (MPA) program was fantastic, giving me a broad view of my community and the world. I learned fundamental and advanced concepts of business management, budgeting, understanding statistical comparisons and making solid ethical choices. I’ll never forget that I owe much of my success to UCCS. When you work hard, you make your own luck!”
As a UCCS alumna, Laura has been active in the Alumni and Friends Association, attending events, mentoring students and participating in commencements. After graduating from UCCS in 1995, she worked for various organizations in various positions as a corporate administrator, software trainer, project specialist, assistant operations manager and has worked as a staff member of the psychology department since 2010.
UCCS has heavily impacted Laura’s life as an alma mater and employer. It has provided a common thread with her spouse (a UCCS alum), children, friends and colleagues while providing her education, livelihood and future retirement. Her daughter graduated from UCCS in 2019.
Laura was awarded the UCCS Garrett Swasey Outstanding Staff Award in 2017.
Favorite UCCS Memory: “As a UCCS student, I was heavily involved in student government as a member, vice‐chair and chair of the Judicial Board, acted as a student government representative on the admissions & records, financial aid, budget advisory and various campus ad hoc committees, became a charter member of Delta Sigma Pi, Mu Chi Chapter in the College of Business, member of Business Club and M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán), and participated in southern Colorado community outreach for the Chancellor’s Office. I was awarded the UCCS Student Achievement Award in 1995.”
Greg has worked in the technology industry since graduating from UCCS and achieved Cisco CCIE certification in 2001. On reflecting on his time at UCCS, he said professors in the school of engineering were excellent.
“I most definitely have used my degree. The instruction from Drs. Weiner, Chow and Shub gave me deep insight that has served me well.”
DeGuilio was called by MCI Telecommunications Corp. just weeks before he graduated with a Masters in Computer Science. He worked in the company’s internal training department, developing databases and graphical user interfaces for their many classes.
While at UCCS, he worked as an intern with Ron Grey, a fellow student, on the data that was returned from a UCCS rocket that had been sent aloft to study the ozone layers.
Favorite UCCS Memory: “I truly enjoyed my time at UCCS. I had worked as a supervisor and quality engineer with Ampex Corp. They were a state-of-the-art professional audio and video tape recorder company. I retired from there at 50 years old and decided that I would like to enter the computer industry and to further my knowledge. I was accepted at UCCS. Of course, most of my class mates were much younger than I was, but we all worked together. I learned a lot by studying with them and I hope they also learned from my previous industry experience.
Dawn works for a school district in Colorado Springs and has raised a family here. Her husband and one of her children are also UCCS grads. “It runs in the family!”
“I have been able to use my degree in the career choices I have made. I feel that UCCS was a solid education!”
Tammy Ford, B.S. in Nursing ('95), Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Tammy earned her pre-requisite classes at UCCS and graduated from Beth-El College of Nursing before it became part of UCCS in 1997. She worked at Memorial Hospital before graduation until spring of 2016 and then moved to Azura Vascular Care. She then worked at a local site as the facility administrator until summer of 2019 when she was promoted to regional director responsible for vascular access centers in Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California.
“I have used my degree to grow from CNA to bedside nurse then charge nurse, team lead to facility admin and finally regional director.”
Rick is First Vice President Financial Advisor at RBC Wealth Management and described Dr. Venkat Reddy’s investment management course as “invaluable.”
“My MBA opened many doors in my career.”
After graduating from UCCS, Kevin switched careers, earning a master’s degree in information technology and now is “at the travel stage of life.”
Dyanne now lives in South Dakota. She launched her career financial services with Charles Schwab after graduating from UCCS and is currently with Allied Solutions in Dakota Dunes, S.D. She has traveled the world, living in Dublin, Ireland, for two years where she was an assistant vice president of product data services with Merrill Lynch. Dyanne has seven grown children and six grandchildren and call Corgis her hobby.
Favorite UCCS Memory: “UCCS taught me to think outside the box and to see the world through a broader lens. I use my degree every day from the historical novel I am writing, to political analysis from my political science degree, to just plain old writing and reasoning skills.”
Susanne is an institutional investment consultant handling pension, endowment and foundation plans. “My MBA from UCCS was an essential piece to my success.” Tom Zwirlein and Venkat Reddy were her favorite professors.
She lives in Hawaii and is an avid golfer. Her daughter, Carolyn, is a physician in California. Her husband is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and works as a contractor for the military in Hawaii and Asia.
Since graduating, Brian continued his career in telecommunications with MCI, Sprint and now Verizon Communications. He is a senior manager with responsibilities for building a virtual 5G network for modeling and analysis, living in Holly Springs, North Carolina, with his wife and teenage daughter. He has three grown children, two of which have returned to Colorado Springs with their spouses, and his hobbies include flying commercial drones, along with piano and fishing.
“What I found at UCCS was a welcoming attitude and a desire to make UCCS relevant to the community, the state, and beyond.”
Favorite UCCS Memory: “My time at UCCS opened my eyes to strategic thinking at the upper levels of my company. It inspired me to learn more about leadership and organizational focus during chaotic times such as these. It drove me to learn more and to always keep growing, that business and life are truly infinite games.”
Christina has spent the last 24 years working in the defense industry for various contractors, currently as senior principle test engineer for SAIC. She has been married to her high school sweetheart. Her oldest daughter graduated from UCCS in 2019. Her son is a sophomore at CSU Pueblo.
“I attended the commencement ceremony in the spring of 2019 when my daughter graduated. It brought back the fond memory of my graduation in the parking lot of the engineering building with the beautiful view of Pikes Peak in the background. There was a photo in the program from one of those old graduations. My daughters could not believe we had the ceremony in the parking lot but I remember it being beautiful.
Favorite UCCS memory: “I started my college career at Penn State University and transferring to UCCS was the best thing I could have done. Classes were much smaller and I never felt like a number. UCCS prepared me for the real world by encouraging me to apply for an internship my senior year. That internship turned into my first real job and gave me the confidence I needed to succeed.”
Chris completed a 25-year career in the military, is married with two daughters and lives in Alaska, where he likes to fish, hike, hunt, camp, mountain bike and ski.
“I was able get my MS degree while working full time, which was huge for me.”
Favorite UCCS Memory: “I really enjoyed the campus setting and the UCCS atmosphere. I used my computer science and software engineering schools in multiple capacities while serving in the military.”
Jennifer Lynne Rudis, B.S. in Nursing ('95), Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences - B.A. in Psychology ('93), College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
After graduation, Jennifer worked at Memorial Hospital for two years, then moved to Kansas City, Missouri, to be closer to family and raise three sons. She worked at KU Med Burn Center for seven years, where her passion for wound care began. She now works as an inpatient wound and ostomy nurse at Advent Health in Kansas City.
"I remember finding a spot in the Palmer Park rock formations behind the school on North Academy to study and look at the amazing views of the Front Range mountains. This was uplifting and provided motivation to study.”
Favorite UCCS Memory: “I was fortunate enough to work as a student aid at Memorial Hospital during my time in nursing school. This was where my nursing career started as well and was an invaluable experience.”
After graduating, Terry returned to teaching in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. In 2000, Terry was accepted as a participant in the NASA Educational Workshop at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Following the two-week workshop, Terry was asked by NASA and the National Science Teachers Association to apply for the position of Educational Facilitator of the workshop, and was hired for the summer position. That enabled Terry to continue teaching in East Grand Forks. After retiring from teaching in 2008 after 39 years, Terry travels and works “very part time” as a standardized practice patient at the University of North Dakota Medical School.
Favorite UCCS Memory: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCCS. The graduate program was very nicely organized to accommodate professional people. The professors were wonderful and the people in education were great. Due to a family illness, I unfortunately had to leave before finishing my degree and they helped me to work out a manner in which I could complete my graduate degree by taking courses at the local university. That was a life saver!”
After a career at Boeing, Erik now live in rural southwest Washington, where he raises beef cattle and bees and keeps an orchard. “I love to get up into the mountains hiking and climbing, and they are nearby.
Favorite UCCS Memory: “What a crazy whirlwind time it was. The late great Scott Switzer (senior instructional designer in the UCCS Faculty Resource Center) was a classmate, and I counted him a dear friend. I'm so glad he continued to be so positively involved at UCCS, and I'm glad to see his contributions being memorialized. A very cherished memory.”
Since graduating from UCCS, Tandy is an OSHA compliance officer and industrial hygienist in Denver. Tandy has worked in the aerospace, water treatment, oil and gas and safety industries, has two boys and lives in Evergreen, and loves to hike, run and landscape.
Favorite UCCS Memory: “During my time at UCCS I worked as a campus safety officer and enjoyed the outdoors. One of my favorite memories was taking a zoology course and getting to explore the Garden of the Gods more. I couldn’t have found a more beautiful campus to attend for my undergrad. When I was a student there were no dorms. I remember evenings of watching meteor showers during campus security nights and feeling lucky to attend a college in the mountains.
"One of my favorite memories is watching a friend who developed severe MS symptoms walk across the stage outside with the Pikes Peak in the background. His girlfriend walked him across the stage as he accepted his degree. UCCS is extraordinary campus in that the environment is rich in personality, caring for students, history, culture and opportunities. I wouldn’t trade my undergrad experience for the world!”