5/25/16 | The excitement was palpable as JWU Denver’s Class of 2016, their families and alumni gathered on the Coors Family Commons for the Robert E. Taylor Gate Ceremony.
Led by a stately drum corps, soon-to-be graduates paraded east through the gate, coming full circle from their west-bound passage as first-year students at JWU Denver. Alumni celebrated them with high fives as they were officially welcomed into the fold.
The 2016 Commencement ceremony exercises kicked off the following morning at the Colorado Convention Center, with waves of anticipatory cheers emanating from the Class of 2016 waiting backstage. An International Parade of Flags representing Australia, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Vietnam marked the start of the procession.
Honoring his brother who was killed in action in Iraq, Bradley Steckelberg '16 MBA sang the National Anthem.
Student commencement speaker Zaira Acevedo Becerril '16 regaled her classmates with her JWU adventure, from the unique perspective of an international student from Mexico. “JWU Denver’s campus, with its diversity, sense of community, comfort and support, helped me better understand American culture,” she explained. “The land of opportunity has proven to me that there is always room for growth, there is always space for evolution.”
Two outstanding individuals received Honorary degrees: Steven J. McCarthy, chairman and CEO of Além International Management and Olympic torch relay director, received the degree of Doctor of Business Administration in Marketing and also served as Commencement speaker. William H. Yosses, recent White House executive pastry chef and founder of Kitchen Garden Laboratory, received the degree of Doctor of Culinary Arts.
In his speech, McCarthy spoke of the Olympic Flame as an icon of peace: “Today is about our individual and collective duty and honor to share and promote our version of that flame around the world.”
“This grand ocean you are about to cross is just a bigger version of your first grade playground,” remarked McCarthy. He reminded the Class of 2016 that they bring value to the table with their degrees. “Now you can ask, what if I was the best in the world at what I do … on my worst day?”
As each student was called to receive their degree and cross the stage, the hall exploded with shouts and applause from family and friends who have supported them in their journey. In total, 288 degrees were awarded, including 17 MBAs, 186 bachelor’s and 85 associate in science degrees.
ALL PHOTOS: PAUL WEDLAKE