Since 2012, UCCS has honored alumni who graduated 25 and 50 years ago as Silver and Golden Graduates, respectively. This year, in celebration of 25 years since their graduation, UCCS recognized nine ’96 Silver Graduates during the Dec. 17 UCCS Commencement ceremony.
“The Silver Graduates we celebrate this year helped build the foundation of what our university has become today,” said Joanna Bean, Director of the Office of Alumni Relations and the Annual Fund. “We are honored to recognize these alumni in our Commencement ceremonies: Golden Graduates at the spring ceremonies, and Silver Graduates during the summer and fall ceremony.”
The UCCS Class of 1996, to which this year’s Silver Graduates belong, studied at UCCS during a pivotal chapter of the university’s history. They were witness to the groundbreaking of the Summit Village residence halls, the university’s first on-campus student dwellings. They cheered as the men’s basketball team made its first conference tournament appearance in program history. And many of them were students when Chancellor Linda Bunnell Shade held the university’s first Convocation. Her speech was titled “Lunatics, Lovers, and Poets: Partners in Imagining the Future of UCCS,” recalling the many people who had dreamed big dreams for UCCS and worked hard to achieve them.
One graduate, Robert Coggins ’96, missed his original Commencement ceremony. This year, to celebrate the 25-year milestone of his graduation, he brought his 93-year-old mother to the Broadmoor World Arena, where she cheered as he was honored by Venkat Reddy, Chancellor of UCCS.
The Silver Graduates celebrated this year offered their own comments on the significance of the 25-year recognition. Read their thoughts below.
Marguerite Arai-Cantu, M.A. (’96) and B.A. in Communication (’94), College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
"I found the way to do what I wanted to do in life — 'help people who are different to get along.' The course Intercultural Communication was the path to my goal. I taught this course and was course director for over 20 years. In 2016 I retired as Senior Instructor Emerita. I often return as a guest presenter to classes and continue to share what I've learned beyond the campus."
"UCCS was instrumental in helping build relationships, knowledge, and leadership skills that have stayed with me through my career. My involvement in organizations such as Delta Sigma Pi and getting the opportunity to learn from outstanding professors helped shape who I am, and the future roles I would hold. Today, I am the Senior Vice President, Global Project Operations for Flintfox International, a global consulting and software solution provider."
"As a proud UCCS alum, I can't say enough about the positive change this university has given me in terms of a stable career, lifelong friends, and a world class electrical engineering foundation. Twenty-five years! I can't believe it has been so long. I look back at my experience at UCCS very fondly. I truly wish I had stayed longer. Thank you to all the faculty, staff and alumni for your help. With my degree, I have worked abroad and all over the United States, and I am now back in Colorado Springs still working as an electrical engineer for Karillon Corp."
"Graduated with a Computer Science degree and this year I also celebrate 20 years working for Boeing. The knowledge the degree provided me has been immeasurable."
"I work for Widefield School District 3 as an ELL (English Language Learner) teacher. I enjoy helping students acquire English and learn a new culture. I have worked at Venetucci Elementary for 25 years. I have three children aged 32, 42 and 44. My grandchildren are aged 18, 21 and 23. My husband retired from the Army at Fort Carson. I enjoy going to concerts, traveling and spending time with my grandchildren."
"The education that I received at UCCS prepared me very well for further education. Also, I value the interactions that I had with all of the professors at UCCS. I knew them personally and they knew me personally. These relationships are priceless and helped me become who I am today. I model my interactions with students on how UCCS faculty interacted and treated me."
Steve Parker, M.A. in Public Administration (’96), School of Public Affairs, B.A. in Sociology (’77)
"UCCS provided an outstanding education in the MPA program. My degree enhanced my performance, competency, and effectiveness in my professional career."
"UCCS helped me get my college pursuits back on track and focus on my career path. Today I am a Human Resources software consultant."
"UCCS opened the door to a completely different life than I thought I'd be living! Because of the amazing support I got at UCCS, I got my degree, and I've worked in the United States (Colorado Springs), and then in four other countries, in international schools (Damascus, Syria; Shanghai, China; Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and Taichung, Taiwan. I love my life, and landed in the best place EVER to go through the pandemic, and to end my career. Thanks to UCCS! Thank YOU!"
About the UCCS Fall and Summer 2021 Commencement Ceremonies
The UCCS fall 2021 Commencement ceremonies celebrated 1,086 graduates of the summer and fall semesters. Nearly 600 graduates attended the ceremonies at the Broadmoor World Arena on Dec. 17, 2021, along with family and friends. More than 40 of those were graduates from the Classes of 2020 and spring Class of 2021, who returned to walk across the Commencement stage after having celebrated their graduation virtually. See the full Commencement program online. View the full livestream on YouTube.