Silver Graduates return for Fall 2023 Commencement ceremony

Since 2012, UCCS has honored Golden Graduates – alumni who graduated 50 years ago – and Silver Graduates – alumni who graduated 25 years ago – during Commencement ceremonies in May and December, respectively.

This year, UCCS will recognize 13 Silver Graduates, each of whom graduated from UCCS in 1998.

Read stories from each of the Silver Grads below.

David “Buck” Brown – B.S., Electrical Engineering

David pursued a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, which opened many doors in the field and allowed him to pursue more opportunities.

He went on to work for a Japanese semiconductor company for fourteen years, then became a Verizon network engineer for eight years before retiring.

Dr. Dawn Davidson – B.A., Psychology

After graduating from UCCS, Dawn attended Regis University for a master’s degree in psychology and then went on to obtain her Ph.D. from Walden University. She mostly worked with adolescents during her career before eventually transitioning to senior care, after her own mom became ill and needed care.

“UCCS was an amazing school with amazing professors that brought me to a place in my education where I understood my true career path was psychology. Each professor in the psychology program did a great job with their emphasis and helped shape me as a psychologist.”

Dawn is now in the process of writing a book called “Exit Strategy.”

Craig Decker – B.A., Fine Arts

Craig is not only an alumnus of UCCS, but a valued longtime staff member as well.

After graduating from UCCS in 1998 with a Fine Art Studio degree, he got a position at a Colorado Springs marketing firm which helped him expand on his skills and move into the web world. In 1999, Craig returned to UCCS as Web Designer and has been here since.

“Before I graduated I really did not know where my path would lead, and thanks to UCCS, I discovered art could be so much more. That lead into creating websites and graphics and led to my current job – which is still at UCCS! In this role, Assistant Director of Applications, I still get to do the things I love and help the University progress. This year my youngest is a freshman at UCCS, so the impact it has on my life continues.”

Wayne Hutchison – M.A., Education Curriculum

Wayne is a double CU alumnus, with a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences from CU Boulder and a Master of Arts in Education Curriculum from UCCS.

After UCCS, Wayne established, and became the first principal of, the Bijou School – an alternative high school in Colorado Springs School District 11. He acted as Principal for 12 years before retiring in 2010.

“The learning opportunities and professional credentials that I received from UCCS allowed me the opportunity to establish an alternative learning situation for students that need a different type of learning environment that the traditional schools offer. The school continues today as one of our community’s premier educational options for students of all abilities and with unique personal circumstances.”

Wayne stays involved in the public education arena in the Colorado Springs community by serving on the Governing Board of a local Charter School, Community Prep School, and as the President of the Foundation for School District 11, a position he’s held for the last decade.

“I feel fortunate to be able to continue to assist in helping students achieve their educational potential through my work with the Foundation for School District 11.”

Florence Jabedo – M.B.A

After graduation, Florence started working for Ingersoll Rand, a pumps and pumping equipment company, in 2001. She’s been at the company since and is currently a systems program manager there.

“I have made great connections with professors, community leaders and have made life-long friends.”

Florence and her husband of over 25 years, Ayub, live locally with their four children: Yvonne, Yvette, David and Titus. David is also member of the Mountain Lion family and graduates from UCCS next year.

Robynne Denise Kiplinger Dahl – M.B.A

“UCCS has been my life and will be until I retire. I love this campus.”

Robynne has been part of the Mountain Lion family as both an alumna and valued staff member since 1989. She earned her bachelor’s in 1995 and master’s in 1998, both in the College of Business where she was mentored by professor Jeffery Ferguson, Ph.D.

Her UCCS career began with student employment in the Personnel Office in 1989, and in 1996 she transitioned to working at the bookstore. The next year she transferred to what is now Human Resources, and has been a valued member of their team since with many fond memories of the office and her fellow staff.

“I was very fortunate to have wonderful mentors in the Personnel Office – Vickie Hilty, Director of Personnel, Mary Gunder and Valerie Bivens-Young. Because of these lovely ladies I changed my direction from Accounting to Personnel/Human Resources and Organizational Management. When I had to change jobs, I had another great influence with Debbie Young in the Print Shop.”

Jack W. Minson – B. S., Business Marketing

Jack earned his degree while balancing a management job and being a single parent. He continued in his human resources and management career with Safeway, retiring from there after 38 years of dedicated service.

Following retirement, Jack embarked on a variety of new ventures, starting with the transportation sector in school district 20. After several years, he went on to work with Verizon marketing and eventually left that role to become a wine specialist for the next eight years. He then received an offer from Anheuser-Busch in marketing and sales, a job he held for five years before retiring once more.

“At the end of May 2023, I decided it was time to enjoy life and retired for the second time. I would not have had these opportunities without my degrees from UCCS, or met the professors and friends who I still occasionally see.”

Michael Phan – M.B.A.

Michael spent 23 years in an Air Force Military career before retiring. He then went on to work in the nonprofit, financial and defense industries and is now a software test engineer for a local defense contractor.

“My time at UCCS gave me a solid MBA experience and community connections.”

Barbara Reed-Polatty – M.B.A.

After earning her M.B.A., Barbara operated her own marketing consulting firm and then was offered a marketing manager position at a Colorado Springs software company. She spent two years there before leaving to become CFO and co-owner of an industrial-tech design and manufacturing company, a position she still holds.

“My M.B.A. courses and degree pivoted my career as a technology contributor to a business focus while broadening my understanding of the business infrastructure necessary for a company to be successful. From marketing to accounting to vendor and customer relations – every aspect of operating a business – it provided a sound base to build on the day-to-day realities of owning and running a company.”

Jesse Sandoval – B.S., Electrical Engineering and M.S., Aerospace Engineering

“The education, mentoring, and experience I received at UCCS helped pave the way for my continued success. It was a perfect structure and discipline that I needed at that time.”

Jesse has had several years of success in the engineering and marketing fields after earning two engineering degrees at UCCS. After graduating, he was an Electrical Design Engineer for seven years at LSI Logic, then joined Vitesse Semiconductor as Senior Marketing Manager for another three years.

He then spent a decade at Aeroflex as Executive Marketing Manager, where his passion for aerospace began. In 2013, he joined Entegris as Senior Product & Business Development Manager, managing all aspects of their Aerospace Product Line.

Jesse has also spent the years since graduation building his happy family, consisting of his wife, Dawn, their daughter, Taylor, and son, Conner, and their respective spouses. They travel across the nation and world when possible and are welcoming their first grandchild in spring of 2024.

“My student life at UCCS was great. I had the ability to meet lifelong friends who I still stay very close with. I owe a lot back to UCCS for providing a great education!”

Kim Shatteen – B.S., Business Administration Information Systems and M.B.A.

“I made long friendships through UCCS, and met and stayed in touch with great professors and great community leaders.”

After becoming a double College of Business alumna, Kim went on to work in various IT jobs around Colorado Springs and Denver and currently works in remote IT work. She resides in Monument with Cedrick, her spouse of over 25 years. They have two children: Al, a highschool student, and Alena, who attends UC Denver.

Felina Swaba – B.A., Biology

Felina earned her Bachelor of Arts in Biology from UCCS.

Kevin K. Tran – B.S., Applied Math & Computer Science

Kevin earned his Bachelor of Science in Applied Math & Computer Science from UCCS.

About the UCCS Fall 2023 Commencement Ceremony 

The UCCS Fall 2023 Commencement ceremonies will celebrate degrees conferred to more than 500 graduates. Students, friends and family will attend the ceremony at the Broadmoor World Arena on December 15, 2023. See the full Commencement program online. View the livestreamed ceremony on YouTube.