UCCS celebrates the record-breaking Class of 2021

UCCS conferred a record-setting 1,624 degrees to students during the university’s virtual commencement ceremony for the spring graduates of the Class of 2021. The videos for the ceremonies for each of the six colleges are available online.

UCCS awarded 24 doctoral degrees, 330 master’s degrees and 1,270 bachelor’s degrees, making the spring 2021 graduates the largest graduating class in the university’s history.

Chancellor Venkat Reddy, CU President Mark Kennedy and this year’s graduate speaker, Gwenyth Rosenkrantz, each shared words of wisdom with the new graduates.

“Commencement is a time of profound reflection and profound joy,” Reddy said. “It is a time for us to consider all the work we have accomplished, and the work that is yet to be done.”

View the spring 2021 commencement program.

“Challenges are ever-present in our lives. I don’t need to remind you of this,” Reddy continued. “We have all lived through an extraordinary year. The coronavirus impacted our campus, city, state, nation and world. Students – graduates – you rose above every single setback you faced. You demonstrated courage and resilience, and you did not give up on your dreams. Your triumph today is not just that you have succeeded in the face of difficulty. It is that you are stronger and better equipped to take on any obstacle that may come your way.”

Rosenkrantz, the recipient of the Class of 2021’s Student Achievement Award and the first openly transgender student to receive the honor, told graduates that the skills they had honed during their time at UCCS represent a flashlight that can light their way through even the darkest of times.

“When we approach our mountains in life, we will shine light on the problems we come across and do the work to help fix them,” Rosenkrantz said. “We will be able to spot those who need help and aid them back onto the trails. Look out onto the horizon at the top of your mountain, and watch the sunset with the peace of understanding that you have the tools to face the coming twilight – and all of the nights to follow. Congratulations on earning your flashlight.”

President Kennedy offered advice to the graduating class.

“It’s critical to find your center, your anchor, your higher calling,” Kennedy remarked. “Don’t measure your self-worth by others’ affirmation, especially not the number of likes on your social media posts. Each of you has a purpose to pursue that benefits the world, and it is invaluable. Devote your life to this purpose.”

Regent Chance Hill from Colorado’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Colorado Springs, delivered the Norlin Charge to the graduates. The charge is steeped in CU’s history, dating back to CU Boulder’s June 1935 CU Boulder commencement ceremony, when president George Norlin delivered the speech to graduates. The words were part of a written charge now read to the graduating class each year at each of the four CU campuses. It is a reminder that graduates will carry their experiences at the university with them forever.

“Commencement does not mean, as many wrongly think, the breaking of ties and the beginning of life apart,” reads the charge. “Rather, it marks your initiation in the fullest sense into the fellowship of the university, as bearers of her torch, as centers of her influence, as promoters of her spirit.”

“The university consists of all who come into and go forth from her halls, who are touched by her influence and who carry on her spirit. Wherever you go, the university goes with you. Wherever you are at work, there is the university at work.”

The UCCS Honors Ensemble provided music before the start of the ceremony. The Visual and Performing Arts University Choir performed the National Anthem. For the second time, the ceremony also recognized three recipients of the comprehensive higher education certificate.

The UCCS spring commencement ceremonies celebrated a record-setting 1,624 graduates from UCCS, the university’s largest graduating class in history. The virtual ceremonies took place beginning on Friday, May 14 at 1 p.m. In addition, the May 17 Picture on the Plaza event will mark the first time in decades that UCCS offers an outdoor, on-campus graduation event. 570 graduates are signed up to walk down the pedestrian Spine, hear their names read and receive a diploma jacket and photos. Learn more.

The formal 2021 commencement ceremonies for spring graduates are available on-demand via YouTube.