December 17, 2012
Metropolitan State University of Denver
A commencement message to fall graduates: Dream big
By Lisa Walton
|Sandy and Lonnie Phillips accepted the honorary bachelor's degree awarded to their daughter Jessica Ghawi from President Stephen Jordan..|
MSU Denver's Fall Commencement at the Colorado Convention Center on Sunday, Dec. 16, was the culmination of hard work for 15 master's degree students and 1,272 bachelor's degree students-the largest number of fall graduates in school history.
It was a celebration of the traditions that make MSU Denver students unique as well as a way to honor Jessica Ghawi, the 24-year-old MSU Denver student killed in the Aurora theater shooting.
Ghawi, who was majoring in speech communication with a concentration in broadcast journalism, was awarded an honorary bachelor of arts degree posthumously. Ghawi's mother and stepfather, Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, accepted the degree for their daughter, whom they described as a "beautiful, feisty redhead that made it a point to live each day to the fullest."
In his remarks, President Stephen Jordan highlighted the University's commitment to providing opportunities, promoting diversity and inclusiveness, and staying true to its humble roots.
"You are diverse in every possible way from race and age to gender and sexual orientation," Jordan said. "You are differently abled, young and seasoned, veterans and civilians, parents and employees. And today, you are graduates."
He highlighted the stories of several students, including that of recreation therapy major Heather VanDeburgh, who intends to work with military veterans with multiple disabilities. Jordan called her a classic MSU Denver student who balanced her full-time job at the Department of Veterans Affairs with motherhood and volunteer service while attaining a 3.93 grade point average.
He added that the fall 2012 class includes three "dreamers" who took advantage of the University's Colorado/GED Non-Resident Tuition Rate, offered for the first time this semester.
In closing, Jordan told the graduates to "make your lives reflective of the dreams that got you to where you are today."
Outstanding Fall Graduate Patrick Kuretich told graduates to enjoy the moment. "I believe that education is a gift," he said, adding that it's also a test of will and a way of challenging one's self. "I believe in the education we received, and I believed in us."
|Associate Professor Shawn Worthy told the graduates to overcome their fears, find their passion and speak up for those who canï¿½t speak for themselves.|
Commencement speaker and Associate Professor of Human Services Shawn Worthy told the new graduates to continue dreaming in a speech interlaced with personal stories about his life experiences, his family and his students. He told them to overcome their fears, find their passion and speak up for those who can't speak for themselves.
"Having an educated community makes us better," Worthy told the fall graduates, who will join more than 73,000 MSU Denver alumni, the majority of whom work in various economic sectors across the state. Worthy also spoke about the Colorado/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate for undocumented Colorado students. "It gives these folks an opportunity to move forward," he said. "When we speak up, it not only benefits them, it benefits us, the community and the state."
"The 'Metro way' is to be humble, to work hard, and to dream big," Worthy added. "We at Metro, we dream big, and we do big things."
View more commencement photos here.