UCCS celebrates Summer/Fall Class of 2023

UCCS conferred more than 550 degrees to students from the Class of 2023 during the Summer/Fall 2023 Commencement ceremony, held at the Broadmoor World Arena.

UCCS awarded 15 doctoral degrees, more than 90 master’s degrees and more than 450 bachelor’s degrees to graduates of the summer/fall 2023 semester during the December 15 event, hosted at the Broadmoor World Arena. Graduates and their families celebrated alongside UCCS faculty, staff and students.

Jennifer Sobanet, Chancellor of UCCS; Todd Saliman, President of the University of Colorado system; and Richard Fierro, Distinguished Alumna Speaker, addressed graduates during the ceremony.

“Commencement is a joyful time, but it is also a time for us to reflect – on the work we have already accomplished, and the work that is yet to be done,” Chancellor Sobanet said in her address. “The challenges of the world are ever-present. In response, we must commit to being outstanding citizens who stand up for what is right and good. We must commit to compassion, patience and respect. We must be willing to serve – to give our time and talent to the communities in which we live. We must engage in respectful discourse that protects the right of all people to express themselves freely, leading to new knowledge and new ideas.

As you graduate today, you will go back out into the world – using the work of your minds and your hearts to make it a better place.”

“I hope you’re very proud of how you’ve grown and what you’ve learned during your time at CU,” said President Saliman. “You’ve learned about your fields of study, of course – but you’ve also learned about life, about yourselves and about others. You’ve learned to think critically, to speak your mind and to stand up for your beliefs using facts as your foundation. You’ve also learned to listen. Finding your voice is so important. Honing your ability to hear what others are saying is equally so, perhaps now more than ever.”

“You’ve learned that just because you disagree with someone, doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. You’ve learned that disagreeing about one thing doesn’t mean you can’t find common ground about something else. You’ve learned that it’s how you disagree with someone that really matters. You won’t be friends or get along with everyone you meet, but you can show them respect and gain theirs by listening to them.”

“Show others how to disagree with respect, with civility, with patience and with strength. Show them how to listen, how to find a path forward to progress, to lasting change. And keep your eyes open for unexpected allies and friends along the way,” President Saliman finished. “Your corners of the world will be better for it.”

Distinguished Alumna Speaker Richard Fierro, a local small business owner who was credited with helping subdue the gunman in the Club Q mass shooting in November of 2022, spoke to graduates about becoming their own heroes.

“That day, people labeled me a ‘hero’ for my decision to act and run towards the gunman, regardless of the consequences,” he said. “I am no hero. Heroic acts are defined as unexpected, bold and dramatic. By that definition, EVERYONE in that room was a hero that night. We all acted heroically. Heroes are not made – the ability to act as a hero is already in us.”

“A hero chooses to act, regardless of the consequences, for the betterment of those in their community. A hero is admired or idealized for courage, achievements, or noble qualities. We tend to look for heroes outwardly to inspire and provide hope. I challenge each of you to look inward and appreciate the hero you are and will become.”

“As new graduates, you will face challenges and problem sets that will seem daunting or even unsolvable, but I believe each of you has the fortitude to persevere and move to the action. You must challenge the status quo and overcome each obstacle in your path. Do NOT let anyone tell you that you can’t. You must turn toward adversity and charge forward to bring change.”

“None of us knows what lies ahead, but hope and desire drive us to continue our paths,” he continued. “Please enjoy those around you and live your lives to the fullest. Your journey is just beginning, and I wish you all the best.”

The ceremony included a celebration of 13 Silver Graduates, members of the Class of 1998 who celebrated 25 years since their own UCCS graduation.

To close the ceremonies, CU Regent Glen Gallegos delivered the traditional Norlin Charge to graduates. The charge dates back to CU Boulder president George Norlin’s delivery of the June 1935 Commencement ceremony. The words of the Norlin Charge are now read to the graduating class each year at each of the four CU campuses, as 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.”