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Overjoyed students graduate at chilly spring commencement

About 1,200 students graduate from the University of Colorado Denver

CU Denver graduate Abbie Sietsema poses with her family members after graduation on Saturday

By Chris Casey | University Communications

DENVER - "Pretty surreal," "overjoyed" and "the greatest day of my life" were just a few of the comments made by Class of 2012 graduates at the University of Colorado Denver Spring Commencement on Saturday.

As he stood on the edge of the field after receiving his bachelor's degree in finance, Mohammed Alneaimi basked in his accomplishment.

"Today is the greatest day of my life," he said. "I couldn't sleep, for one thing, and it's freezing cold. Just the feeling of walking down that walkway and everybody clapping -- it was just exciting. It felt like a great accomplishment in my life -- the biggest one so far."

Scenes from Spring Commencement 2012:

Graduates and their families and friends assembled under an overcast sky with temperatures in the low 40s. This spring about 1,200 students received degrees, including 752 bachelor's, 419 master's and 24 doctorate degrees.

Interim Chancellor Don Elliman highlighted the diversity of the Class of 2012, calling it a "microcosm of our world. Graduates with us today represent many states from across our great nation as well as 19 other nations whose flags are displayed behind me," he said. Elliman noted that 26 students this spring completed their program at the International College Beijing, a partnership between China Agricultural University and CU Denver, and an additional 51 will graduate next month in Beijing.

He also highlighted the 106 military veterans and four ROTC students receiving degrees, noting that "they've added another link in the long chain of honorable service and self-sacrifice to our country."

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson told the graduates that the harder they work in life, the luckier they'll become. "On behalf of the University of Colorado I want to congratulate you and all of the people who helped you. Your degree from this great university will change your life forever."

Abbie Sietsema, who earned a bachelor's degree from the Business School, said graduation was a long-awaited day. "I'm so excited that it's finally here," she said. "It's invigorating, it's exciting. I'm just overjoyed."

She plans to move to Los Angeles next week and begin looking for a job.

Nicole Gawlikowski, who earned a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, plans to take the summer off from her job with Denver District Court. In the fall, she will begin graduate studies at CU Denver to earn a master's in criminology.

She summed up the sentiment of many students when she said of her CU Denver experience: "It's pretty surreal. Starting as a freshman and now being a senior, it just flew by."

(Photo: CU Denver graduate Abbie Sietsema poses with family members at Saturday's spring commencement.)




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