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June 8, 2023

A Graduation Tradition: Honoring the Ones Who Cheer

This Friday, University College will hold our Spring 2023 graduation celebration, honoring the students who’ve earned their degree since last summer. Some 530 students, from bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, are earning their degree and about 170 will be there in person for their moment to shine.

It’s a triumphant, joyful occasion, and we are delighted to celebrate our graduates’ accomplishments because we know how hard they have worked. But University College adds one unique ritual to extend the graduation celebration even further.

Every year, Dean Michael McGuire presents each graduate who walks across the stage with a carnation. This carnation is meant for the student to give, as a symbol of their appreciation, to the person who most supported them during their educational journey.

This tradition gives everyone in the room a chance to acknowledge that earning a degree is a long and taxing process, and no one does it without support.

Sometimes support simply means encouragement from friends and mentors. But it often takes the form of real sacrifices made by spouses, children, and other loved ones. These people may take on new responsibilities or give up precious together time to make it possible for the student to study.

The symbolic gesture of presenting these individuals with a carnation is a recognition that their contributions made a valuable difference to the students’ success.

The choice of a carnation is no accident. Colorado was once the self-proclaimed “Carnation Capitol of the World.” Dean McGuire says that the flower was chosen for this ceremony because, for centuries, it has been a symbol of distinction, devotion, and love.

So, on this day full of traditions, it makes sense to celebrate the people whose names don’t appear on the diploma, but who nevertheless have earned some applause. Their support makes all the difference.

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