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Graduates celebrate accomplishments at summer Commencement

More than 500 students graduated from DU on Aug. 12.

One by one, more than 500 students took their final steps as University of Denver students Aug. 12 and completed their educational journey during summer Commencement.

Undergraduate and graduate students marked the end of DU’s 147th academic year under clear skies and sunshine on Graduation Green.

The students watched the world around them struggle with economic uncertainty, political upheaval and even flirtations with the H1N1 flu virus during their stay, University Chaplain Gary Brower told the assembled crowd of family and friends.

“When faced with great challenges, losses and disappointments, they have prevailed,” he said. “They have succeeded.”

As one who has seen all manner of times — troubled and triumphant — at DU, retiring English Professor William Zaranka reminded graduates that though times change, it is up to them to master those changes and live a purposeful life.

Zaranka first came to DU as a student in 1969. He ended up spending most of his professional life here as a professor, department chair, dean and provost. He saw the University struggle through the 1980s and emerge as the powerful, respected school that it has become.

Quoting from poets and artists ranging from Robert Frost to William Butler Yeats to Woody Allen, Zaranka urged graduates to pursue a career that they truly care about.

“College or graduate school has made you what you are. Now you must go out into the world and decide what you’ll do,” Zaranka said. “My hope is that you are inspired and enthused by your chosen work for the rest of your life … Don’t capitulate. Be tenacious.”

More challenges are ahead, he warned. In a world overwhelmed by sound bites and a barrage of electronic static posing as information, figuring out what is truly important will be difficult. Focusing on what is meaningful will be a struggle, he said.

“Take on those dragons,” he said. “It’s your world now.”

Undergraduate students arrive on campus Sept. 5. DU’s 148th academic year begins Sept. 12.

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