UCCS celebrates Spring Class of 2024

UCCS conferred more than 1,700 degrees to students from the Class of 2024 on Friday, May 10, with more than 1,300 graduates in attendance for the Spring 2024 Commencement ceremonies at the Broadmoor World Arena.

Graduates this semester earned 27 doctoral degrees, 352 master’s degrees, 173 associate degrees and more than 1,190 bachelor’s degrees.

Jennifer Sobanet, Chancellor of UCCS; Todd Saliman, President of the University of Colorado system; and the recipients of the 2024 Student Achievement Awards, Christian Ruiz and Celine Habimana, addressed graduates during the day’s ceremonies.

“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 innovative ideas. As we respect each other’s differences, we must also seek out what unites us – using both to advance our community, our nation, and the world.”

“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,” she concluded.

“How you approach your journey is just as important as where you’re headed,” said President Saliman. “Once you set your sights on something, give it everything you’ve got. But beware of tunnel vision. Always keep your eyes open – and your hearts and minds too – so you don’t miss opportunities that come your way. Focusing on a goal while remaining open to new possibilities is a delicate balance. Use the tools you’ve developed here. Do your research. Listen to those you trust, but also trust your gut. And don’t be afraid to take a risk every now and then.”

During the morning ceremony Christian Ruiz, graduating with a degree in game design and development, shared advice on how to fail successfully.

“In the Bachelor of Innovation program, a saying they told us was: ‘Fail often, and fail quickly,'” he said. “It means to cast aside your trepidations and try anything that scares you. If you fail, you can still learn from the experience and do better on the next attempt. The only important piece is to ensure you bounce back quickly. The more you learn by doing, the more likely you will succeed the next time you try.”

“Despite the risks, I want to lean into the fun, fail often, and fail quickly,” he continued. “I need to find out what scares me, and tackle it. And I hope some of you can do the same, so that your passions become reality, and you never regret not going for it. Congratulations to all of you, and keep moving forward.”

During the afternoon ceremony Celine Habimana, graduating with a degree in nursing, spoke about the concept of sonder.

“Sonder is the profound realization that every person you encounter has a life as vivid and complex as your own, with their own ambitions, fear, struggles and joys,” she explained. “The beauty of this moment is that each of us has had a different path to get here. I do not know what you had to deal with, the obstacles you had to overcome, the people you had to let go, and the tears you shed to get here. But despite our journeys being so befittingly different, we have also shared so many moments of sonder. Most importantly, we are currently sharing a moment of sonder that will become a nostalgic memory.”

“As we exit those doors and step into creating more moments of sonder, I encourage you all to look forward with anticipation, receptiveness and excitement,” she continued. “Uncertainty about what our lives will look like after this may be terrifying, but it is also that lack of clarity that allows us to conquer opportunities and make room for growth and discovery.”

The ceremony included the recognition of six Golden Graduates, members of the Class of 1974 who celebrated 50 years since their own UCCS graduation.

Also celebrated this year were the students who received their Associate of General Studies degree after the University of Colorado Board of Regents approved the retroactive degree in April 2023. The degree is for those students who started at UCCS and earned at least 70 credits over the last 10 years but didn’t complete their degree. It provides a path for students to receive a credential for work they have completed and improves these students’ outcomes for employment.

The university also awarded Apolo Ohno, who was a student at UCCS during his training days at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Center, with a Distinguished Service Award. 

To close the ceremonies, our regents delivered the traditional Norlin Charge to graduates. Regent Gallegos read in the morning and Regent Montera read in the afternoon. 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.”