Published: May 7, 2020

The 2020 livestreamed commencement ceremony is Saturday, May 16. And don't forget: You and your families are invited to return to campus in May 2021 to walk in the university commencement ceremony and attend special recognition events. Be part of the story by tagging #ForeverBuffs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn! Visit the 2020 commencement site for additional resources.

Below, read from just a few of the talented, motivated and innovative students who are graduating and starting on their next adventure. Congratulations, Buffs!

What is one of the greatest experiences or lessons from your time at CU that you’ll carry with you into your next chapter?

As I move on from this chapter of my life, holding all that I have learned and experiences I have grown through, I think the greatest lesson I will carry with me is to be curious, to be critical and to act. There will always be room for personal reflection and growth, which aides in how you show up for your community, and there is always space to use the power you bring in this world to heal further. There is goodness. There is strife. There is utter despair. And there is our resolve. Determine how you show up and be there, all there.”

–Olivia Gardner, CUSG director of diversity and inclusion (EthnSt, WomSt’20)

The greatest experience I had at CU was my time in Colombia. Being able to study abroad in a country that is so incredibly different from what I have experienced and being able to help build a community space for the neighborhood that so desperately needed it was the most fulfilling thing I have done in my entire life, even if I did dislocate my knee in the process.”

–Ian Klene (EnvDes’20)

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It’s difficult to choose one superlative experience from my five years at CU—I feel like my time here has literally been a highlight reel, and I am so thankful for all of the opportunities I’ve been given. Solo recitals, competitions, roles with Eklund Opera and writing my honors thesis have all been transformative experiences I will carry into the next chapter of my career. I have learned that taking an unconventional path yields incredible results. If I had not pursued such diverse musical interests, I would not be the musician and scholar I am today.

–Sophia Zervas (Mus’20)

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I consider the level of intellectual engagement that the BUENO professors provided as the greatest experience while in the master’s program at CU. I loved how so many of my cultural beliefs that had been denied and dismissed both my K-12 and undergraduate careers were now affirmed and with academic grounding.”

–Andrés Martínez (MEdu’20)

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The School of Education at CU Boulder has taught me so many things that I will carry with me into the next chapter of my life. First and foremost, this program solidified my passion for working with students and the power that an inclusive space holds for all students K-12 and beyond. The SOE taught me to employ a true equity-mindset. There are people who are advantaged and people who are disadvantaged, and working in higher education, I will do everything I can to provide inclusivity and opportunity for confidence and success to all students, especially the ones who may need support most.”

–Casey Knosby (MEdu’20)

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I’ve learned to take myself a little less seriously. I thought that getting a C, failing a test, saying the wrong thing in class, or not getting an internship (or three) would be the end of the world. But all of those things happened, and I’m better off because of them.”

–Jolie Klefeker (TAM’20)

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With my next chapter being that of a secondary teacher, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to bring the lessons that I have learned in graduate school into the classroom with students of my own. What comes to mind right now, is the question: “What counts as normal?” In my Queer(ing) Topics in Education class this last semester, my professor Bethy Leonardi always guided us to come back to that question. We often grappled with the idea of ‘normal’ and how the systems that are in place today often paint a picture of normal—but one that is far less complex, beautiful, or meaningful, than the reality of being human.

I am excited to bring this question, and others, into my classroom as a way to allow my students to be agents of their own learning as capable young adults. I believe curiosity is essential to learning, and I am excited to center curiosity in my own classroom.”

–Daniela Harton (MEdu’20)

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I’d say one of my top experiences in college, even though cheesy, was working at Norlin. It’s just an old building, until you get to know the people inside. Norlin Library has turned into a huge part of my life and I’ve made friendships and connections that I know will carry far beyond college. The memories and skills my jobs have given me are priceless. I’m lucky to have called Norlin my second home all four years of college."

–Lacey Porter (Engl’20)

Based on what you know now, what is your best piece of advice for other students?

[Graduate students should] get to know the resources of the university to provide support and connection. From Norlin Library to the many stellar centers of research, CU provides a diversity of resources to support research and teaching while ensuring that you have the tools to overcome challenges, such as CAPS and Disability Services. CU also gives graduate students professional support through the graduate school, office of outreach and engagement, and the graduate teacher program as well as bringing in top scholars across fields to expose students and faculty to larger conversations. I have engaged with so many scholars doing cutting edge research and been inspired to push my own work further through engagement with so much of what the campus offers.”

–Jennifer Shelby (PhDEnvSt’20)

College is such a pivotal time in life, and you don’t know what you want to do. It's so important to take advantage of as much as you can. Don't be afraid to throw yourself into new situations and see where you fit.

–Nate Bennett (TAM’20)

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This is your time to choose. And I’m not just talking about your major, friend groups and next chapter of employment—although those are foundational for your college experience. This is the time to navigate, clarify and define the ‘thing’ you’re willing to stand unapologetically for. Knowing what I know now, I invite you to reflect on your lived experiences, values and identity to pinpoint.”

–Cam Perdido (Psych’20)

Not only are you academically learning, you are also learning to be an adult! Take this time to develop life skills, appropriate and safe relationships, boundary setting, self-love, goals and developing hobbies like cooking or making art. Starting the transition and implementation of these life aspects and seeing them as a priority for a good quality of life is key to developing the whole beautiful person you are. In short, academics are important and so are you. You are a living breathing entity which needs to be treated well by yourself and others in the world.”

–Allison Murphy (Edu’20)

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 When I started classes at CU Boulder I had particular beliefs and ideas about teaching mathematics. Some of these beliefs and ideas were confirmed and strengthened, while others were challenged, which led to my own personal change and growth. I think when you pursue higher education it is because you want to change and grow, so I think it is important to allow yourself space to do so. In short: It's OK to change your mind.”

–Jami Riley (MEdu’20)

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Based on what I know now, my advice to other students—particularly law students—would be to focus on friendships. Yes, law school is competitive, and while we all want to succeed, it’s important to not let the competition get in the way of making meaningful relationships with your classmates. When I look back on my time at CU, what I’ll always cherish most are the friendships that I’ve made that I know I will carry with me for the rest of my life. We were there for each other during finals, during job searches, and when we dealt with personal struggles. I can’t imagine having gone through law school without them.

So my advice to other students is: be kind to others, focus on friendships, and don’t let the competitiveness of law school get in the way of what is really important.”

–Tyler Owen (Law’20)

The importance of creating a sense of community with classmates and/or friends. Creating a supportive network around you, especially within ENVD, becomes vital in its entirety and even more so during high-stress times like midterms and finals. We create positive competition between one another—learning, teaching and guiding each other.

–Alyssa Drain (EnvDes’20)

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Find out who you are, what you like, and show up for the people around you!"

Hattie Jean Houser (Dance, Geog’20)

What does graduating from college or graduate school represent for you?

Law school was the biggest gift I have ever given myself. It is a gift of the ability to make change. To fight. To stand up for my community. It is a gift of knowledge of understanding.

Law school and the law itself also feels like coming home. It challenges me, it makes me angry, it makes me think, it empowers me.

Over these last three years, I have spent thousands of hours reading, writing, and thinking. But most importantly, I have grown. I have made incredible friends and colleagues. I have spent hours and hours learning from professors, crying in their office hours, asking them to challenge me. I have argued with others and myself a lot.

So, I want to thank Colorado Law for being a part of gifting myself, coming home and growing. I could not have done it without the community here.”

–Amber Paoloemilio (Law’20)

I feel an overwhelming sense of privilege to have received a doctoral degree in education. I believe I have a choice for what I get to do now with this immense opportunity. I hope that I never take it for granted, and that my work only grows more consequential and justice-oriented as I move forward with my career.”

–Erica Van Steenis (PhDEdu’20)

Graduating isn’t a finish line. It’s the end of your formal learning, but it’s the beginning of the ‘rest-of-your-life’ learning.”

–Alex Fiel (TAM’20)

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Graduating from college means that I get to officially pursue my dream of becoming an educator. It means that after years of hard work and commitment, I finally have the opportunity to teach tiny humans to love learning as much as I do. It means that the struggle of being a tired college student working part time and pouring their whole heart into their school work was worth it.”

–Anne Fisher (Edu’20)

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Ah, a world of opportunity! I feel that more than anything else, graduating with my master’s represents a responsibility. A responsibility to myself and others to use my degree for all the potentials it holds in the realm of social justice. As a forever learner, I think graduating also represents the beginning of the next opportunity to learn, probably in a very different way than my past five years in higher ed.”

–Meredith Nass (MEdu’20)

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Graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder is an extremely proud moment for me as both a student and a teacher. I struggled for years to learn how to be a student (which is a great lesson for my students as well). My path to this moment was not a direct one. Today, I celebrate with my fellow graduates, but as a teacher, I recognize that I am also a lifelong learner. Although I graduate this year, I feel that my education will never be over. I will be back to continue to learn how I can support my students and help them achieve success in the classroom and in their futures.

–William Ostendorf (MEdu’20)

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Graduating from college, for me, represents the transition from the learner to the teacher, from young adult to adult, and from the time to focus on learning for myself to the time to focus on applying my knowledge to help others. It represents a new phase in my life that comes with new responsibilities but also new opportunities to grow, to learn in a different way, and to reach the goals that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a child.”

–Ally Collard (Edu’20)

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