A record 1,068 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs students earned degrees Friday for studies completed in the summer and fall.

Also setting a record was the number of students who walked across the stage Friday to shake hands with dignitaries and accept their degrees during the 13th annual fall commencement at The Broadmoor World Arena. A total of 564 graduates took part in the tradition.

The UCCS graduation was the first for new University of Colorado system President Mark Kennedy.

As a first-generation college graduate, Kennedy said he knows “how this milestone achievement can elevate the trajectory of your lives to the benefit of your family and your community.”

As CU graduates, “you are called to let your light shine, to do well, yes, but also to do good,” he said. “Know that we believe the best of each of you. Let your light shine by believing the best in others.”

Keynote speaker Matt Carpenter, who earned a master’s degree in public administration from UCCS in 2006 and is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award, presented three key thoughts:

“It’s helpful to show a sign of gratitude, to be thankful to others for supporting you.”

“It’s helpful to find a passion and purse it. Life’s a lot more fun if you actually work on your passion.”

And, “A good part of community success is the concept of mentorship,” Carpenter said. “Find someone who will mentor you, and pay it forward by mentoring other folks.”

As executive vice president, chief operating officer and corporate secretary for El Pomar Foundation, Carpenter also encouraged students to help make their communities a better place to live by investing time, resources and support.

Among the graduates was Mickey Meehan, who earned a degree in criminal justice and is completing the interview and testing process to enroll in the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Training Academy.

For the past four years, Meehan entertained thousands at UCCS and in Colorado Springs as a costume performer as Clyde the Mountain Lion, the campus mascot

Meehan worked hundreds of athletic games, admissions events and community festivals, balancing that with a near-perfect grade-point average, an internship with UCCS Police and a student position in the Office of Financial Aid, Student Employment and Scholarships. In the spring, he was named the UCCS Student Employee of the Year.

He made national news when a photographer took a picture of him in his mascot suit hugging a UCCS police officer in 2015, after the shooting death of UCCS Police Officer Garrett Swasey, during an attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

Student body president for 2018-19, Sierra Brown, who lost both parents and her grandmother during her final two years of high school before she enrolled at UCCS in 2016, now holds a bachelor of art’s degree in English.

Wendy Howe, an Army veteran, has been working on earning a business degree for the past 10 years, while working full time at T. Rowe Price. She graduated on Friday summa cum laude, or “with the highest distinction.”

Also during the ceremony, Colorado Springs resident Judy Bell, the first female president of the United States Golf Association, received the CU Distinguished Service Award for her career and leadership in golf.

She has supported UCCS’ Professional Golf Management Program.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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