End of Winter Break, Beginning of a New Year

[This post was written while on board a plane from St. Louis to Denver]

I am sitting on a plane again.  This time for domestic travel.  I’m on the way back to Denver from St. Louis for the beginning of Winter Quarter.  I’m also heading back to Denver at the end of my last winter break – and I have to say, I’m not a big fan of that one.  I cannot believe that winter break is over.  Simultaneously, I feel like winter break just began and has been going on for quite some time.  Of course, winter break has been about six weeks long and I have been to the other side of the world and back again – literally.

I have no regrets about this winter break.  While I would have liked to have had more time in St. Louis to spend with people, I had some amazing experiences that I would not have wanted to pass up.  In my time at home, I spent a lot of time with family – something I am very happy about.  As well, I got to catch up with friends all over St. Louis.  I traveled to Israel where I saw new and old sights, reconnected with old friends and made some new ones, and attended an amazing wedding.  I traveled to England where I traveled the country with a friend and saw some of the most amazing (and old) places I have ever been to.  I was able to experience England and what it has to offer.  I spent time looking for and Interviewing for jobs (hopefully with some results soon).  I did a bit of reading and time to reflect and prepare for the new quarter.

The past few weeks have taught my several things.  I can rely on my instincts.  I know more that I realize sometimes.  It can be okay to go with the flow.  While planning is necessary, some adjustments may be necessary.  Change is okay and can be a good thing.  Relationships may change and morph.  We have to be okay with this.  Friends and family are important.  Treat them as such.

I graduate from the University of Denver with a BA and a MBA at the beginning of June.  This June.  With two degrees.  Wow!  I cannot believe that 2011 is here; 2010 just flew by!  The first half of this year will be filled with what promise to be the most difficult classes I have taken in college.  This new challenge should prove to be of benefit to me and I plan to rise to the challenge and exceed all goals and expectations.

This year will also contain a major decision that will likely affect the rest of my life (the next few years, at a minimum): what job to take and what city to live in – the two are linked.  Everything I have done these past 23 years was effectively preparing me for this moment.  This year I will need to make a decision based on my past education and work experiences that will set me up for my future – work, friends, family, etc.  I do not take this situation lightly and I hope to make the right/best decision possible.  I pray that will indeed be the case.

Other than what I have written here, I do not really have any new resolutions for 2011.   I generally have the same goals for each year that will hopefully lead me to being a better person:

  • Try my best to understand people – i.e. increase my empathy and open-mindedness
  • Rely on my values
  • Do my best
  • Learn
  • Talk less about people behind their backs
  • Do what I can to make the world a better place
  • Be the best friend and family member that I can be and trust my friends and family
  • Be happy and healthy

I have no doubt that 2011 will be my best year yet.  They each get better and better.  Every year also seems to go by faster.  I hope that I will be able to create new memories and relationships and value and retain them all.

Happy 2011!

Graduation Video

To celebrate Undergraduate Graduation this past June, me and four friends had a party at Hillel for our families.  Leslie made a video slideshow that has now been posted on YouTube.  It is quite good and brings back many memories.

Here’s to good times, great memories, and wonderful people:

Undergraduate Commencement Address

I was doing some job searching online today and inadvertently came across the text of the speech given at my Undergraduate Commencement by Denver Health CEO Patricia Gabow:

Graduates, parents, and faculty thank you for the honor of sharing in your joy today. After four years in a classroom I know the last the thing the graduates need is another lecture—but mine is short- only 200 power points and just a take home test! In fact, my goal is to be short and hopefully sweet- sharing with you only three tidbits of wisdom from a great philosopher—Fiori Colonna. I am sure none of you-even the philosophy professors -ever heard of him but his insights were profound. These insights came not in long dense sentences that, in my expert medical opinion, can trigger a coma, but in short, crisp sayings. This great philosopher was my grandfather.

My grandfather was born in 1889 in southern Italy – a mountainous region crushed by poverty. As did many Europeans in the early 1900’s, at sixteen he booked steerage passage from the tough docks of Naples to the United States. Like other immigrants, then and now, he was expecting to find streets lined with gold. America, the land of opportunity, did not make success quite that easy. My grandfather used the one gift he had extraordinary musical talent and started his American journey playing in a circus band. I will get back to this concept of a gift in a moment. Even as a non-English
speaking adolescent he knew America could offer more. He studied to obtain a teaching certificate and spent the rest of his life as a public school music teacher. And from this comes the first saying. I can still hear my grandfather’s words—”My girl, if you get an education in America, there is nothing you can’t do.”

Today 1232 of you receive not just a college degree but also see the culmination of a world class education. Now you must take my grandfather’s words to heart and remember there is nothing you cannot do. Given the economic times and the challenges America faces here and around the world, you may doubt this as a reality, but even now it remains true -your education will open many doors – doors to traditional careers like teaching and medicine and doors to new technologies and industries- but like my grandfather- you must find the door and walk through it. Doors will not come to you- just like streets are not paved with gold. This saying has been true for me – my education and my willingness to push open some partly closed doors enabled me to break the glass ceiling and become CEO of a model health care system. So use your education as the path to your door.

While education creates exciting spaces for you to enter—it also creates responsibility. Here at DU you learned to think critically- you must bring this skill into our society. In this time of absurd partisan sound bites and unfounded blogs- we need informed citizenry to preserve this land of opportunity . You must be knowledgeable and you must vote. My grandfather, my parents, my husband and I, and my children never missed voting. Yet in a recent mid cycle election more people voted in American idol than the election—do not be one of these so called citizens.

Let me return to my grandfather. He had such an influence on me because I lived with him. My father was killed in world war II and my mother lived for more than a decade with my grandparents. For me the tragedy became a blessing of knowing my extended family. Which brings me to my grandfather’s second saying – Again I can hear his words—“My girl, not everything bad happens to harm you.” Everyone of you have had or will have something bad happen. My grandfather knew that good things can emanate from what at the time may seem very bad. Many cultures see this truth. In fact, you can Google “what is good” and find this story:

A farmer has a prize stallion; thieves steal the stallion. His neighbor tells him what bad
luck but the man replies “Who knows what is good and what is bad.“ A few days later the
stallion escapes and joins a herd of wild mares bringing them back to the farmer. The
neighbor comes to rejoice with the farmer, but the man repeats “Who knows what is good
and what is bad.” The next day the farmer’s son breaks his leg breaking a wild mare. The
neighbor brings condolences to the farmer who repeats his saying. The following week
the army comes to the village to conscript soldiers but passes over the farmer’s injured
son—and the neighbor says to himself in fact “Who does know what is good and what is
bad.”

Forty years ago on a ski trip in Aspen –I jumped off a diving board wearing a very small pink bikini and landed on another swimmer—sounds pretty bad—but that swimmer asked me out, later proposed and we’ve been married ever since— so who knows what is good or bad.

The final reflection relates to the concept of a gift. Perhaps, my grandfather’s favorite saying was, “If you have a gift and you don’t use it no confessor on earth can absolve you.”

Let’s deconstruct this For most Americans the concept of sin—of voluntarily doing wrong –is not something we think of – hence we don’t think of the need for confessors to relieve of us of the burden of wrongdoing. Even without the concepts of sin and absolution, we all know that there are times that we make bad decisions which negatively impact us and others—My grandfather’s point was that the most unforgiveable act you can do to yourself and to all those around you is to squander your talents. When each of you choose your majors you were thinking about your talents and now you must hone that decision into a career, a commitment, and a journey which will produce good for you, for your family, for the country and the world.

In closing, regardless of your ancestry, you have grandmothers and grandfathers, parents, uncles and aunts who possess the wisdom derived from your culture which is captured in their old sayings—learn these, use them in times of celebration, turn to them in times of sadness—let the old wisdom be a lens to see this new world – to show you the way forward through life. Value your education, see opportunity in both the good and the bad, and find your path and walk it with fortitude and joy and by doing this make your country and this world a better place because you were in it—Congratulations to all of you and to your families.

DU’s and Denver’s Reaction to Recent Suicides

The recent string of suicides of young gay males has not gone unnoticed at the University of Denver or in the Denver community.  Today, Thomas Walker, Associate Director of the Center for Multicultural Excellence and LGBTIQA and Social Justice Initiatives Coordinator was interviewed by 9news, Denver’s NBC affiliate.

Check out Thomas’ video and the associated story:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

DENVER – The recent suicides of five gay teens has brought national attention to the issue of harassment and bullying of gay students on many campuses.

An estimated one-third of all suicides among younger populations involve people in the gay community.

“We are seeing shocking numbers of suicides and suicidal thoughts,” says Hope Wisneski, Denver Executive Director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Organization.

Just in the last month, 5 young men, as young as 13 years old, have taken their own lives.

The most recent was 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University Student.

Prosecutors say his roommate and another student streamed live images of Clementi having intimate relations with another man. Clementi jumped off a bridge three days later.

“I felt bad that he thought that was his only option,” says Dr. Thomas Walker, Associate Director of GLBT Services at the University of Denver.

But, he says, these numbers are nothing new.

“Unfortunately, students, young people, even older folks, hurting themselves or taking their own lives is something that happens more often than we’d like for it to,” says Walker.

“We know in Colorado that we have recently surveyed 300 participants, 40 percent of which said they have seriously considered suicide,” says Wisneski.

Wisneski also says that 70 percent of teenagers have reported feeling unsafe at school.

“There are resources that are available. If you’re struggling, it can get better. It can be better,” says Walker. “Here on our own campus I have a number of people contact me asking how they can help and what they can do to help people who are hurting,” says Walker.

“People are starting to realize and really honor and acknowledge how hard the world can be for some people and how hard our society makes it for people to be who they are. And when we learn about the lack of acceptance out there and learn about people being bullied to the point they take their own lives, I hope that it allows people to take a second and stand back and really understand how much it impacts us,” says Wisneski.

For those seeking more information or help, visit http://www.glbtcolorado.org, or contact the Colorado Anti-Violence Program at 303-852-5094.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

As well, the University of Denver sent the following email out to the DU community today:

To the DU Community:

As has been reported in the national and local press, there have a spate of youth suicides in the past few weeks by people targeted with specific or ongoing anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.  A just released national survey report in which DU students, staff and faculty participated (www.campuspride.org) sadly documents that the exclusion, intimidation, and devaluation of LGBTIQ classmates and colleagues is not occasional or uncommon at campuses across the United States.

The University of Denver is fully committed to an active engagement of all of our community members. Our diversity of perspectives, experiences, and identities is not just tolerated at DU, it is celebrated as creating the intellectual vibrancy that is fundamental to the University’s mission (see www.du.edu/chancellor/diversityStatement.html). There is no place at DU for words or actions that disrespect, discriminate, harass, or otherwise diminish or endanger others. We therefore call on our entire campus community – DU students, faculty, staff, and administrators – to refrain from behavior that excludes or intimidates others whatever their identities, and to intervene to prevent such behavior if it threatens to occur.

We do have resources at the University that are available for you or someone you know who needs support in the face of recent events, and we encourage you to use them. They include:

•    The Center for Multicultural Excellence (CME) supports broad equity and LGBTIQ & Ally specific programs and campus organizations, including Queer & Ally (Q&A) trainings. Multicultural Center (Asbury & University), (303)871-4614; www.du.edu/lgbtiqa.

•    DU’s Health & Counseling Center offers group and one-on-one counseling to address specific issues and/or improve the overall academic experience. Ritchie Center 3rd Fl North, (303)871-3853; www.du.edu/duhealth/counseling.

•    GVESS provides prevention and response training and resources for those affected by interpersonal violence, including sexual assault. Nelson Hall 103, (303)871-2220,www.du.edu/studentlife/Sexual_Assault.

•    The Office of the Chaplain is available to the entire DU community regardless of faith affiliation, or no affiliation at all. Driscoll South 29, (303)871-4488;www.du.edu/studentlife/religiouslife.

•    Campus Safety partners with campus constituents to prevent and respond to situations that put the campus community at risk.  In emergencies, dial 911 and then (303)841-3000. General inquiries (303)871-2334; www.du.edu/campussafety.

As the new academic year continues, we invite you to take advantage of these resources and the wide array of campus programs and activities to learn about the rich diversity of our University of Denver community.

Sincerely,

Robert Coombe    Gregg Kvistad

Chancellor            Provost

Hopefully, the situation for everyone will improve – we can all strive to be more understanding, welcoming, accepting, inclusive.

Lady GaGa on the Carillon

The University of Denver has a beautiful set of 65 carillon bells “cast by the Eijsbouts foundry from the Netherlands in 1998. The largest bell weighs 11,685 lb”.  The bells are in the tower over the Ritchie Center and ring for the time and when they are played throughout the day.  I like them a lot.

Some of the carillon bells at the University of Denver

One of my friends posted a video on Facebook that is definitely worth playing.  The carillonneur at Iowa State University played Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” on their carillon.  It’s quite amazing!  I hope DU does the same.

Carillon Tower at the University of Denver, above the Ritchie Center

DU, Me, and My Friends on VEVO!

During DU’s May Days, OneRepublic was on campus.  I posted the videos that I took of their impromptu concert, but now OneRepublic has posted their video of the event via VEVO on YouTube!  It’s pretty awesome.

The video includes the song “Secrets” – the new single that is pretty awesome.  Check it out.  There are some shots of me and many of my friends.  While I seem to be making fantastic (:-\) faces every time the camera comes to me, this is still a pretty cool thing the band did and good publicity for DU.

DU News Release: New Dean for Josef Korbel School of International Studies

From the University of Denver:

News Release
For Release: July 1, 2010
Contact: Kim DeVigil
Phone: (303) 871-3172
E-mail: Kim.DeVigil@du.edu

University of Denver names U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies

Hill to lead one of the top international studies programs in the world

DENVER–Christopher Hill, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, has been chosen to lead the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, one of the top international studies schools in the world founded in 1964 by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s father. Hill’s appointment was announced today by DU Chancellor Robert Coombe.

Hill has served as the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq since 2009. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with more than 30 years of service whose prior assignment was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. He has also served as Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.

In April 2009, Foreign Policy magazine released a survey in its March-April issue that ranked the Josef Korbel School’s professional master’s program among the top-20 Ph.D., master’s and undergraduate programs in the world. In the master’s listing, the school tied for 12th with Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of California-San Diego, and it ranked ahead of schools such as Stanford University and the University of Pittsburgh.

“We are delighted that Ambassador Hill will be joining the DU community as the new dean of the Josef Korbel School,” says Chancellor Coombe. “If one considers his tremendous experience and great success as a Foreign Service officer and diplomat, it’s apparent that this is just the sort of career for which we are educating our students at the Korbel School. He’s going to be a great dean.”

In 2005, Hill was selected to lead the U.S. delegation to the Six-Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. Previously, he has served as U.S. Ambassador to Poland (2000-2004), Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia (1996-1999) and Special Envoy to Kosovo (1998-1999).  He also served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Southeast European Affairs in the National Security Council.

Earlier in his Foreign Service career, Ambassador Hill served tours in Belgrade, Warsaw, Seoul and Tirana, and on the State Department’s Policy Planning staff and in the Department’s Operation Center. While on a fellowship with the American Political Science Association he served as a staff member for Congressman Stephen Solarz working on Eastern European issues. He also served as the State Department’s Senior Country Officer for Poland.

Hill received the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award for his contributions as a member of the U.S. negotiating team in the Bosnia peace settlement and was a recipient of the Robert S. Frasure Award for Peace Negotiations for his work on the Kosovo crisis.  Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Hill served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon.

“I am delighted to be coming to the Korbel School this fall. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime to work with such talented faculty and staff and to do my part in providing the finest education possible for graduate and undergraduate students alike. I also look forward to being a member of the broader University of Denver community, and to contributing in any way I can to the friendly and scholarly atmosphere of this extraordinary center of learning,” Hill says.

Ambassador Hill graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine with a B.A. in Economics.  He received a Master’s degree from the Naval War College in 1994.  He speaks Polish, Serbo-Croatian, and Macedonian. His appointment is effective Sept. 1.

Josef Korbel School of International Studies

The Josef Korbel School of International Studies has offered degree programs in international affairs since its founding in 1964 as the Graduate School of International Studies by the scholar-diplomat Josef Korbel. Korbel is the father of Madeleine Albright, who was the first woman appointed to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State. In its earlier incarnation, the Department of International Relations at the University of Denver had a national reputation thanks to Ben M. Cherrington, a scholar, U.S. State Department diplomat and dynamic educator dedicated to providing his students with a global perspective.

The Graduate School of International Studies was renamed Josef Korbel School of International Studies in 2008. The new name recognizes that Korbel’s life and work serve as the intellectual foundation of the school and that his spirit continues to inspire students and faculty.

The Korbel School has a number of distinguished alumni, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. and Heraldo Muñoz, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Development Programme and Director for its Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean.


The University of Denver is committed to improving the human condition and engaging students and faculty in tackling the major issues of our day. DU ranks among the top 100 national universities in the U.S. For additional information, go to www.du.edu/newsroom.

Blog Post for MASA/JAFI

As I have posted before, I studied abroad in Israel from the end of July to the end of December 2008.  The Ginsberg-Ingerman Overseas Student Program at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) was an amazing experience and I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering studying in Israel.  Be’er Sheva may not be the usual destination, but it is a great city and BGU is consistently ranked the top university by Israeli students.

The Overseas Student Program (OSP) is also sponsored by two quasi(?) governmental organizations, MASA and the Jewish Agency For Israel.  These groups encourage students to come to Israel and even give scholarships to do so.  I was recently contacted to write a blog post for them about my experience.  It will be posted in the near future and perhaps may also be printed in a Jewish newspaper.  Here is the article:

In 2005 I traveled to Poland and Israel with United Synagogue Youth (USY), one of two Jewish youth groups I was a part of, along with BBYO.  The five weeks I spent in Israel were some of the best of my life.  But it wasn’t enough.  I wanted more and I knew I would have to return.
I spent five months studying at Masa Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev from the end of July to the end of December 2008.  I attend the University of Denver where approximately 70% of the undergraduate students study abroad – so I knew I would be spending part of Junior Year in another country.  What country that would be was an easy choice.  I knew that I had to be in Israel.  The question was what school.  My options were pretty limited because of the University of Denver’s quarter schedule.  Nevertheless, I knew that there were ways to get around this.
I was trying to decide between Hebrew University in Jerusalem or Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva.  I wanted to have the opportunity to explore Judaism while experiencing the “real” Israel.  I wanted to learn Hebrew and I knew that English was pervasive in Jerusalem.  Much to the surprise of almost everyone I knew, I chose Ben-Gurion.  It ended up being a phenomenal choice.
I loved every minute of classes at Ben-Gurion.  Be’er Sheva is an amazing city, regardless of what anyone says.  The people are amazing.  Our first night there, about 30 lost Americans stood on the street corner trying to figure out where we were and how we could find someplace close by to eat.  A student came up and offered to make us pancakes.  We got to know him well over the next several months.
I kept a blog for the summer to share my experiences and stories with anyone who cared to read them.  I made the following observations in my first real post:
  • There are a lot of stray cats (and some dogs) in Be’er Sheva.
  • The Israeli students are actually finishing up their semester with the next few weeks being their final period. Their schedule got messed up with two different (one professor and one student) strikes this past year. Many of these students will be moving out of the dorms. Their new semester will not begin until mid-November.
  • The school week in Israel is Sunday – Thursday. It is going to take some getting used to.
These observations seem laughable now that I have spent time in Be’er Sheva and Israel for as long as I did.  There were so many meaningful things that happened.
At home now in St. Louis, Missouri for the summer, I have been experiencing an extremely hot and humid summer.  The heat is familiar from Be’er Sheva, the humidity, not so much.  St. Louis is missing the sand though (which really gives the city some character).  The other day I was working in a building looking out at the sun and blue skies.  Someone mentioned spending time at the pool over the weekend and I flashed back to the days of Ulpan, when we would spend the afternoons at the pool, across from Mayonot Gimel.  We would swim, tan, or play volleyball and matkot (Israeli paddleball) with the Israeli students.  We were always welcomed and we began to feel part of the Israeli society.
Back in Denver, I began to get involved in Israel advocacy and programming with student groups and formed relationships with StandWithUs and other organizations.  I took classes on the Israeli-Arab conflict and wrote my honors thesis on Israeli communities rising from discrimination to power.  As part of a liberal international studies program, I often found myself defending Israel, but I was always happy to do it.  I had immediately been a part of the controversy mix, returning to the United States just before my Israeli dorms were evacuated after being hit by a rocket from Gaza (don’t worry, there were no injuries).
I knew that I would not be able to see everything that I had wanted to see during my five months.  I knew I would want to go back.  What was surprising though was how much of Be’er Sheva I did not experience.  Sure, I traveled and explored, but I always figured, “Be’er Sheva only has 200,000 people.  How much can there be here to do?”  Apparently, a lot.  I always said I would return to visit those small museums, but never did.  Hard as I knew it would be, I wanted to get up early on a Thursday morning to go to the animal auction at the Bedouin Market.  I missed it.  That is my only regret.
My Masa Israel experience was amazing.  I would never have given it up for anything.  Now, I know that I need to return.  I hope to do so this December (when I can once again eat way too many sufganiyot! – jelly donuts).  Until then, I will think of Israel often.  See you soon!

As you can tell, they edited it. 🙂 Once it is posted to their blog, I’ll be sure to share the link.

Summer Thus Far

I should have written this post (or perhaps several posts) a while ago.  My idea of having free time this summer seems not to be working out.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not mean to complain – this summer has gone amazingly well so far.  It is just a change from the past.

I have recognized the need to move on to a “professional” summer job with an internship at Build-A-Bear Workshop that I like a lot.  I think the internship itself has been less of a fundamental change than everything that goes with it.  As opposed to walking to work at DU or living where I work at camp, I am driving through traffic to and from work.   I have to dress up, wake u pearly, look professional (at least to some extent) – all of those “grown up” things.  It’s actually kind of cool, but I do miss living with my friends and working with some of my favorite people.  I reflected during the first week on the way home one day that I felt like my dad! 🙂

The days are crazy busy.  I have been waking up between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning to shower, shave , and get to work early, before 8:30 a.m. (I seem to have been tired all summer so far.)  I work until 5:00 p.m. and have not been getting home until 5:45 p.m. or later.  By the time dinner happens and I catch up on life (email, phone calls from the day, etc.) , there is not much time for hanging out, going outside, or generally doing non-work summer things.  It’s probably a good – and important – experiential shift.

I have seen some friends and I have done some exciting things – like go the Cardinals game today where I sat in the Centene suite with my friend who is interning there.  I have learned a lot this summer and met some great people.  I hope that experience continues – along with the opportunity to spend time with friends and family and visit camp.

Undergraduate Graduation

It has been several days since I’ve posted anything on here.  Life has been absolutely insane getting ready for graduating, preparing to come back home (and I am back in St. Louis now).  Hopefully, this summer will provide opportunities for sharing and reflection.

On Saturday, June 5, 2010, I walked across the stage in the Ritchie Center at the University of Denver, received a diploma case (they mail diplomas 8-10 weeks later, but more on this to follow), was greeted by the Chancellor and the Provost, and had my 2010 white Arts & Humanities tassel moved from the right side of my hat to the left side.  I “graduated” the University of Denver!

I use quotes, because I technically did not get my diploma yet.  While I have completed all of the requirements for my Bachelor of Arts in International Studies degree, I will not receive a diploma until next year.  While my diploma for my BA will come at the same time as my MBA and will be dated 2011, I do and will continue to consider myself part of the Class of 2010.

Just for fun – and to share with those who are interested – I was recognized in the commencement program in the following ways:

  • Bachelor of Arts Degree (“Future Graduate”)
  • Departmental Distinction in International Studies
  • University Honors (only 46 students received the recognition/completed the requirements)
  • Mortar Board Senior Honor Society
  • Pioneer Award
  • Outstanding Senior Award

The ceremony was 2.5-3 hours long and while it did get hot towards the end, it was a great experience and I am happy that I participated.  Our speaker was the CEO of the Denver Health and Housing Authority.  Javi, Tucker, and I all sat together – even though it was not technically alphabetical order (at least we were within one letter and the same degree).  We had 1232 (I believe) students participating in the undergraduate commencement ceremony.

After the ceremony, Leslie, David, Brittany, Dani and I had a joint graduation celebration lunch at Hillel with our families.  It was a good time with families and food and a slideshow that Leslie made.

The week leading up to graduation was spent cleaning my apartment and getting ready to come home mixed in with time spent with my family (who were in Denver) and time celebrating and reminiscing with my DU friends.  My college experience has been phenomenal, unbelievable, amazing – use any fantastic sounding word and it will probably describe how happy I am with the last four years.  I have learned so much, become such a better person, met amazing people, done things that I never thought I would want to do or have the opportunity to do.  My undergraduate experience has exceeded all of my expectations – in large part because of the amazing people I have met and friendships I have built.

I am very happy that I will be returning to Denver next year for my MBA.  I am worried that it will be different and strange.  The dynamic of most of my good friends no longer being students at DU will certainly take some getting used to.  I am happy that some of them will still be in Denver, but obviously our relationships will shift and change.  I hope that we all stay in touch and that the people I cherish will remain among my best friends for a lifetime.

I do not think that the social dynamic changes have fully hit me yet.  As I went to graduation parties and hung out with friends on Saturday after the ceremony, I reflected that I have really “grown up” with many of these people.  I am a much different person today than I was four years ago – and definitely a better person.  It was strange to realize just how much of an affect each person has had on me over the last four years.  Even people with whom I was never close or did not always get along with influence my experience and I (now) appreciate that.

I do not like goodbyes.  They seem too final and I hope that many who were a part of my (undergraduate) college experience continue to be involved in my life.  Therefore, I will say “see you later!”

Me, Steven, Ronnie, and Javi before the ceremony

Me and my dad before the ceremony

Me, Stuart (my brother), Trisa, Javi, and Dario (Javi's brother) after the graduation ceremony

For more pictures of graduation, check out my Facebook photo album.  DU  posted this story on their news site about graduation.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my life these last four years!  Stay in touch!  I will cherish you forever!