BOULDER, Colo. - In two days, we will send 5,282 graduates from the University of Colorado at Boulder into a troubled economy to embark on new lives of career and contribution in an uncertain time.
It is times like this that their CU degree is at its greatest value.
Their degree means they are not just engineers, chemists or teachers, but also entrepreneurs, communicators and problem solvers.
Many leave CU not only with a diploma but also with a record of civic engagement and community service. They enter the workforce not just as graduates but as citizens.
Most have voluntarily lived their lives according to our Colorado Creed and its seven guiding principles, including integrity, accountability, acceptance and contribution. These are qualities that will earn them respect in the professional world.
CU graduates have a global perspective and they are prepared with the latest workforce skills and technology coveted by employers.
Put it all together and it equals the complete CU package. It's the reason why CU-Boulder ranked seventh in the nation among state universities with a starting median salary of $47,100 for students graduating with bachelor's degrees in 2008, and a mid-career median salary of more than $97,000, according to PayScale.com.
It was Henry Hartman who said, "Success comes when preparation meets opportunity." To that end, our Career Services office welcomed 500 organizations to career fairs this year and hosted 300 on-campus interviews.
I am struck by the parallels between the Class of 2009 and my own graduation in 1974, when I earned a graduate degree from Ohio State.
In 1974, our economy was backfiring from an energy crisis. Only a few months earlier, the Arab oil embargo crippled the nation, cutting off our supply to imported oil and causing a worldwide recession.
We were in the throes of a stock market crash, inflation was more than 10 percent and unemployment was at a record high as an era of prosperity came to an end.
But as graduates, we were filled with confidence. Armed with a college degree, we made our way in a precarious world.
Today, the members of the Class of 2009 find themselves in a similar situation. Their CU degree is a buoy in an ocean of uncertainty.
Everything they have learned at CU has prepared them to persevere in these tricky economic times.
Philip DiStefano is the chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder.