Published: April 28, 2022

Words of wisdom from the class of 2022

Read from some of the many talented, motivated and innovative students who are graduating and starting on their next adventures. As they become Forever Buffs, they leave their inspirational legacies—with advice and reflection—for those who follow. 



What you’ll carry forth

 The biggest thing I have learned is that learning never ends! My educational experience will not stop when I leave campus, and I want to keep the same sense of curiosity for the world. There are always new ideas, perspectives and lessons to learn, and I will always be searching those out. As my favorite quote form Bill Nye goes, "Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don't." I want to maintain this in my classroom and life in general.”

–Alexis Harris (Edu’22)

 The graduate school experience equipped me with an interdisciplinary skillset and mindset to tackle infectious disease problems using both computational and molecular biology techniques...I acquired not only the scientific knowledge, but also the curiosity, resiliency and ethics that will forever help shape me into a better scientist. Moving forward, I will carry these valuable skills and qualities into my day-to-day research to help the world be better prepared for the next infectious disease outbreak.”

–Qing Yang (PhDMCDBio’22)

 The ATLAS Institute has left me with a magnificent sense of wonder and excitement. In the last few years I’ve seen incredibly innovative projects, met many inspiring people and produced a variety of work that I will be proud of forever. Knowing this just scratched the surface of what lies ahead, leaves me full of energy to continue on my journey. Here’s to the beginning of a life of infinite growth and creation.”

–EO Rafelson (CTD’22)

Read About His Capstone Project

I'll remember my master’s and PhD at CU as an intellectually adventurous chapter, tackling the hard questions on how to solve global poverty and water scarcity. And I hope I never lose sight of the larger systems at work and represent the Mortenson Center well as a global engineer!”

–Anna Libey (PhDEnvEngr’22)

 ATLAS students develop a wide breadth of skills...and I will carry this versatility and adaptability into my next chapter, as well as the collaboration and connectedness within the ATLAS community. At ATLAS, peers feel like friends and professors like mentors. As I move into my next chapter, I know this community will be there for me.”

–Mallory Benna (CTD’22)

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 From my time at CU, I've had the privilege of working with people who are both really enjoyable to be around and who are able to push me to do my best. I've come to really value these relationships and have recognized how important they are to an enjoyable work experience. Both the relationships themselves and the knowledge of their importance are things I will carry with me after CU.”

–Erik Funk (PhDEBio’22)

My time at CU has been filled with amazing experiences and people along the way. I’ve worked in a variety of roles in CMCI, and I will not forget the impact the people have had on me while in those roles. I will carry the experience of leadership, friendship and the amazing community of CMCI with me into my next chapter.”

–Max Gannett (InfoSci’22)

Read About the CMCI Student Government President

The number of people in the CU community who helped get me to graduation day is huge! There were people who helped me with math, shared teaching wisdom, taught me how to be organized, ushered my paperwork through, checked in on me, kept my spirits up and made the journey fun. Grad school was wild and amazing because of fantastic colleagues, supervisors and administrators. So going forward, I'll remember to be as generous with my time and energy as the people I've met at CU.”

–Cherry Ng (PhDMath’22)

 CU Boulder prepared me to be a literacy leader. With equity, justice and diversity at the forefront of its program, I feel inspired to make a change within my community. I now see through a critical lens and feel empowered to challenge inequities that exist within education. This program has fostered my love for literacy and the need to be an advocate for each and every student through their literacy journey.”

–Deidre Bergquist (MEdu’22)

 In addition to all of the traditional knowledge I have gained while at CU, I have also learned an immense amount about myself while obtaining my degree. I will forever carry on what I realized about my passions, motivations, areas of improvement and personal limits during my academic career through the following chapters of my life.”

–Mitchell Alton (PhDChem’22)

Education is not a trending major when students study aboard. However, there is no doubt about the huge impact of education on a country. I was a pioneer in computer science education in Vietnam. Now, I have more knowledge of the education research-based. It will strengthen my work, and I can bring more impact to STEM education in Vietnam, as well as in STEM global fields.”

–Nga Hoang (MEdu’22)

 Don't let your grades be your be-all and end-all and, just in general, don't be too hard on yourself. Find a research project you're passionate about, and don't forget about life outside of school. Make genuine connections with professors, grad students and peers, these will benefit you way more in the long run!”

–Clark Zimmerman (Phys’22)

Your best piece of advice

 Feel empowered to do what’s right for you. Be bold in following what you’re most interested in, rather than being caught up on what pays the bills.”

–Nelson Walker (Mus’22)

Read More About This Outstanding Senior

The best learning comes from curiosity! Use your graduate degree to explore a multitude of passions with perseverance and rigor. There will be times when you feel stressed and want to give up. During that time, think back to why you started this program and everything it has to offer. Stride along with that passion!”

–Varsha Koushik (PhDCompSci’22)

The advice I have for students is to be open to exploring different pathways and creating new spaces. You may be the first to try something—and that is scary—but you will also set a precedent for future students to follow your lead.”

–Shirley Huang (PhDSLHSci’22)

“How I Revised My Dissertation Research During COVID-19—With a Little Help from Taylor Swift”

 My best piece of advice for other students is to take risks and be involved, even if that means trying something new for the first time. I would not have made as many connections, or have had as many fun experiences, if I did not try new things and have an open mind while doing them.”

–Kendall Brooke Winer (Comm’22)

Read More About This Outstanding Senior

 I sincerely encourage other students to stand up and better our approach to educating whole engineers. There is no shortage of support waiting to elevate your ideas and implement your solutions. I had never imagined that I could have started a nonprofit or implemented wellness programming. You can, too, and I hope you do!”

–William Pryor (ElEngr’22)

Read More About the CU Engineering Wellness Awardee

 I urge everyone to always be curious and strive to constantly learn and understand. My educational experience at CU was never limited to the classroom. You never know how much you may learn from a conversation with a stranger at the dining hall or at a TEDxCU event at Macky. Become a student of life.”

–Leen Abbas (IntPhys’22)

 When you reach an advanced level in science, you are asked to push the boundaries of knowledge and contribute a new finding to the field. It is completely normal to feel lost when exploring the boundaries of the unknown. But, if you give yourself a chance, you will learn from the experience. Some of my most exciting findings came from times where I thought nothing was going right.”

–Molly McDermott (PhDEBio’22)

 Before you are a student or a professional, you are human and so is everyone else around you. I think it's easy to lose track of that, but most of the fulfillment I've found as a student comes from what I'm learning and how it intersects with and applies to my own life and the lives of the people I care about.”

–Maximilian Bailey (MIntPhys’22)

 Curiosity leads us down a wonderful path, but when you get stuck, it can be very discouraging. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you are stuck, so is someone else. Friendships often develop from being stuck on a problem together.”

–Océane Andréis (CTD’22)

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 Stay curious, take your time, and find a path that sparks your interest.”

–Patrick Mardis (CTD’22)

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 Becoming involved in clubs and campus organizations changed my undergraduate experience. By working alongside peers on immersive projects, I found my true passion for the written word and visual storytelling. The Bold’s editors and staff writers pushed me to never settle and inspired me by their dedication to ask the hard questions and report ethically.”

–Hannah Prince (Jour’22)

Read More About This Outstanding Senior

 Hold tightly to what makes you human through your degree. The U.S. system of higher education was not built to serve most of the students who attend. Continuing to love yourself and others through the process is a radical act of resistance.”

–Emily Therese Loker (PhDComm’22)

 Having been at CU for both my undergraduate and graduate studies, my advice would be to meet as many people in the department as possible. The EBIO department here has some amazing professors...Many of the really important things you'll learn will be from [the] informal networks of other students. I believe any ecological question can be tackled here thanks to the great mentorship and networking resources in EBIO.”

–Andrew Gaier (MEBio’22)

 Listen to yourself. Observe your intuition and discover the truth within. Let that truth guide you through life, and let it build resilience. For there will be a lot of obstacles in your way; in fact, you may be your biggest one. But have that relationship with yourself where you listen, not judge; want growth, not destruction; and forgive, not regret—that will ultimately grant you the strength to be there for yourself and thereby be there for others. These are the internal instruments and relations that allow one to carry on, to hold a curiosity for self and life, to stick around and to see how this absurd story goes.”

Rose Scotti-Burrows (Phil’22)

 Best advice I can give incoming students is to be open and adventurous to friends and educational experience. I am so excited to give back to the community that educated me and continue to change the way students see themselves and their work.”

–Amalia Kamlet (Edu’22)

 Creativity has no boundaries. Absorb information everywhere you go.”

–Luke Silvester (Bus’22)

 Doing research has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my time at CU, and if it's applicable to your major in any way, you should strongly consider it. Don't be afraid to reach out to professors about their research!”

–Megan Byres (Phys’22)

 My advice for other students is to really get to know the peers, professors and staff of their academic community. Discovering how your journey fits within this community makes college much more fulfilling, enabling you to join the collage of experiences that works toward common goals.”

–Samuel Beaudry (Chem’22)

What graduation means to you

 As a researcher I have gained a deep appreciation for curiosity and how to harness it as a catalyst for critical thinking, and as a teacher I have learned to lead with compassion and kindness to facilitate a safe space for learning and inquiry. These are tools that ground me, and I hope to continue to foster them in my next journey!”

–Sachi Wong (PhDIntPhys’22)

As an older graduate student, with a full life already and young son, making the time to fit school work in with my ‘normal’ job as Denver Public Schools’ science curriculum specialist and family commitments was tough. For me, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. I hope it means a lot for my son, too. I hope he is motivated to pursue advanced degrees in his life and can reflect back on how he saw me doing it so he knows he can do it, too.”

–Douglas Watkins (MEdu’22)

I am the first in my family to attend and graduate from a university. This means so much to us. My family has made a lot of sacrifices, by bringing me and raising me in this country. Life has not always been easy for my parents, but they work so hard to give me everything I need...I honestly owe everything I have accomplished to them, because they have always supported me and my dreams. It is their lessons, their love and their pride in me that keeps me going.”

–Angélica Gutierrez (Edu’22)

First and foremost, earning a PhD allows me to work on cutting-edge research and contribute to advancing the state of the art in aerospace engineering. As a first-generation immigrant, I hope earning this degree will help motivate other minorities to do the same, because I know firsthand the positive psychological impact that representation has when pursuing a dream.”

–Hermann Kaptui Sipowa (PhDAeroEngr’22)

Graduating from college is quite significant for me...It was not a perfect journey, not at all. There were the ups and downs, and tons of self-reflection and self-discovery. I'm grateful for all of these though: They forced me to be resilient, and they taught me a lot about myself. As someone who is not carrying on to the traditional path of pursuing physics academia after graduation, this is the end of an era. I'm glad for all the things that happened and for the people I found throughout my journey at CU Physics, and I'm ready and excited to move on.”

–Gus Santaella (Phys’22)

 It's the culmination of a decade of getting to know myself and figuring out what I want my legacy to be and where I want to put my energy. Ten years ago I graduated with my bachelor's and without a sense of purpose. Now, I graduate with my master's, a career I'm excited for, and a strong sense of direction and meaning. I'm also carrying on the legacy of my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins by joining the teaching ranks.”

–Ellen Teags (MEdu’22)

Graduating from graduate school is a reminder for me of the love and support I've received from my family and friends. I couldn't have accomplished this without my parents, siblings, extended family, faculty advisor, mentors and friends.”

–Christopher Saldaña (PhDEdu’22)

 The end of an era. As I graduate from 22nd grade, this marks the end of the past two-thirds of my life as a student. I'm excited to continue being a lifelong learner but without the homework and exams.”

–Kathryn Grabenstein (PhDEbio’22)

 Graduating from CU Boulder is a huge deal for me and my family! I am a first-generation Latina student who has the most education credentials. I have a career and a salaried job. My parents worked so hard while my siblings and I were growing up. It is so amazing to showcase that my parents hard work and sacrifices were worthwhile.”

–Julia Chavarria (MEdu’22)

Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity. See a list of degree abbreviations.