Trump-Winfrey
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President Donald Trump will speak at the Air Force Academy graduation, while Oprah Winfrey will speak at Colorado College’s graduation.

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Graduations at colleges and universities are underway. Here’s a look at the events.

Air Force Academy

Free tickets to this year’s U.S. Air Force Academy graduation May 30, featuring President Donald Trump as the keynote speaker, were distributed in less than 10 minutes last week to the public.

About 1,000 seniors will graduate and become 2nd lieutenants.

The ceremony starts at 9 a.m. at Falcon Stadium on base and lasts until 1:15 p.m. The Air Force Thunderbirds are scheduled to perform an air show at the conclusion.

Trump bumped expected speaker Vice President Mike Pence, the White House announced last month. He’s likely to talk about plans for a separate Space Force.

Typically, the president addresses graduating classes at military academies every four years in a rotation that includes the vice president, secretary of defense and secretary of each service.

The academy graduation draws as many as 30,000 spectators when the president is the speaker.

Those attending should be prepared for airport-like security checks and traffic congestion.

Colorado College

Colorado College’s commencement is on a new day and requires tickets, which are not available to the public. The ceremony begins at 8:30 a.m. May 19 at Tava Quad, formerly Armstrong Quad, and will be live streamed at https://www.coloradocollege.edu/live.

Television and film star Oprah Winfrey had attended CC’s graduation ceremony in 2017 and planned to be at CC’s ceremony again this year, to support former students from her South African school, The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

Knowing that, CC President Jill Tiefenthaler asked Winfrey if she would deliver this year’s commencement address, said college spokeswoman Leslie Weddell. Winfrey agreed.

In recent years, Winfrey has addressed graduating seniors at colleges throughout the nation where former students of her academy were graduating.

The changing of the ceremony from the traditional Monday morning to Sunday morning is not due to Winfrey’s appearance, Weddell said. The move had been planned for years, she said, to better accommodate family and friends attending commencement and reduce the time they had to take off from work.

Cascade Avenue will be closed at Cache la Poudre Street during the event.

Pikes Peak Community College

Pikes Peak Community College was the first in the region to hold commencement ceremonies this year. Of the 2,760 graduates, 690 walked during Saturday’s event. Half earned an associate degree and half earned a program certificate.

The youngest graduate was 15, as a result of concurrent enrollment programs that enable high school students to simultaneously take college courses, and the oldest was 73. Eleven percent of graduates were also high school students.

About half of this year’s graduates are the first in their family to go to college, one-third are minorities and one quarter are affiliated with the military.

Several students were honored during the ceremony: Monique Jentzen and Nicole Ceballos Basulto for Outstanding Student Leadership, Sharbel F. Dagher for Inspirational Achievement, Jordan Wright for Outstanding Service to the College and Aja’Dae Trent for Outstanding Service to the Community.

Keynote speaker Jessie Pocock, executive director of Inside Out Youth Services, vice chair of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and PPCC graduate, talked about how her road to success started from a dead end.

She lived on the streets and struggled with alcoholism and substance use after high school. Community and education changed the trajectory of her life, she said, crediting two PPCC professors with helping create that community.

“They were determined to make sure I didn’t fail,” she said. “Their support helped me to discover the transformative power and freedom provided by education.”

After graduating from PPCC, she graduated with distinction from Colorado College in 2008 and was named the “2014 Graduate of the Year” at UCCS, where she earned her master of public administration degree.

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

UCCS will have two commencement ceremonies on Friday at The Broadmoor World Arena, 3185 Venetucci Blvd. More than 1,000 students are expected to participate.

Parking is free, and no tickets are required.

The morning ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. for graduates of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

The afternoon ceremony will begin at 2:30 p.m., when the remaining UCCS schools will walk:

• College of Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences

• College of Business and Administration

• School of Public Affairs

• College of Education

• College of Engineering and Applied Science

Two members of the Class of 1969 will return for their golden anniversary: Linda Case, a graduate of the College of Education, and Mark Swan, an engineering graduate, who worked for Colorado Springs Utilities for 31 years.

As Swan is recognized as a “golden graduate” during the morning commencement ceremony, his son, Thaddeus, will earn his master’s degree in applied geography.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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Staff reporter, education and general news and features

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