Campus & Community

Commencement speaker reminds graduate students to take note of the mile markers on the way to the milestones

DU alumna Susana Cordova spoke at DU's graduate Commencement ceremony on June 3. Photo: Michael Furman

DU alumna Susana Cordova spoke at DU’s graduate Commencement ceremony on June 3.

In her speech at the University of Denver’s graduate Commencement on June 3, DU alumna Susana Cordova encouraged departing graduate students to celebrate not only the milestones in their lives, but also the mile markers, which she described as “the signs that tell us where we are in the journey of our lives.”

Cordova, who received her undergraduate degree in English from the University of Denver in 1988 and is now the acting superintendent of Denver Public Schools, described the mile markers she experienced growing up in a working-class, Spanish-speaking home in southwest Denver — going to school every day, doing her homework, going to church, and participating in the democratic process by caucusing and voting every year.

“These mile markers are ultimately what led me to my own milestones,” Cordova told the 908 students at the ceremony. “For me, graduating from high school, getting a scholarship to attend DU, and the first big early milestone of my life — deciding to become a teacher — felt like winning the lottery. It was access into a world unavailable to my parents, although it was their hard work that made it possible. I know that my success is really their success, and their focus on the mile markers in my life made this milestone possible.”

As the departing graduate students look back on their time at DU, Cordova said, “I hope that you find yourself thinking not only of this milestone, your graduation, but also of the many mile markers: the friendships, the learning, the commitment to excellence, innovation, engagement, integrity and inclusiveness, that you experienced here at the University of Denver.”

Before delivering her address, Cordova was awarded an honorary doctorate in education by DU Chancellor Rebecca Chopp.

DU’s video of the 2016 graduate Commencement ceremony can be viewed on YouTube. Cordova’s speech begins at 29:38.

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