Adams State grants 233 degrees in December ceremony
Although temperatures hovered around zero in Alamosa the morning of December 15, the excitement of commencement warmed Adams State College's Plachy Hall. Jubilant family members and friends cheered and waved as their graduates marched in for the big event. Amidst the field of satiny black gowns were flashes of red, with the audience dressed to celebrate the season.
Adams State award a total of 233 degrees, including 91 bachelor's degrees and 13 associate's degrees. Graduate degree recipients outnumbered undergraduates, with 129 master's degrees awarded.
Flexibility, faith, fun
The Commencement address was given by Michael Ware, a 1969 Adams State graduate who has been Chief of Staff for US Senator Larry Craig of Idaho for the last decade. Ware is also a member of the board of the Adams State Foundation.
"Mr. Ware has been tremendously personally successful," Svaldi said. "Yet, he's always taken to time to visit with Adams State folks in Washington, D.C. He's direct, honest, and has a great sense of humor. He can really tell a story.
"There are only 100 US senators in the world, and there are only one hundred chiefs of staff. An Adams State graduate is one of those hundred." Part of Ware's story is that he came to Adams State in 1966 after "a checkered academic start at another institution," Svaldi said.
"I would not be here if it were not for Dr. Plachy and our (required) weekly visits," Ware said. "It is an honor for me to be here today. No one in this audience is more surprised than I am to be here."
Explaining that upon his own graduation from Adams State, he had "absolutely no idea of what I was going to do next," Ware gave an entertaining talk titled, "You Don't Really Have to Have a Plan - Stuff Happens."
"Clearly, I did not have a plan," Ware said, having described his prospects - or lack thereof - in spring of 1969. "I graduated that day. Stuff happened, and here I am."
He said Boris Pasternak eloquently made the same point in Dr. Zhivago, "Man is born to live, not to prepare for life."
"There will be good stuff that happens. The usual like love and comfort and home and peace. There will be moments of contentment. There will be moments of self satisfaction. These moments may be fleeting. They may come in the maelstrom of other stuff, but they will come... You are going to witness, first hand, some momentous events, and learn some things that will startle you. ... Universally, colossal huge stuff is going to happen and you will witness it and be a part of it. A whole lot of little good stuff and a little big stuff are going to happen to you in the rest of your life. Get ready for it - whatever it is.
"Bad stuff is going to happen. People you love and cherish are going to pass from your life. You will be sad. You will make mistakes. ... Sad, debilitating stuff is going to happen. The world as you know it will change. You will face setbacks and disappointment. You will hurt. Get ready for it - what ever it is."
Ware's advice to the graduates was to be flexible, have faith, and laugh.
"Realize that the stuff you worry the most about or anticipate is the stuff that isn't going to happen... The time you spend worrying or anticipating it is really non productive. ... Good stuff, bad stuff will come in its time - deal with it.
"Have faith that there is order in the universe. Just have faith - whatever is monopolizing your thoughts at this moment, the contemplation of good stuff or the fear of bad stuff - can be superseded in an instant, but have faith that there is a purpose and an order and a peace behind it all.
"Most stuff - good and bad - is really funny," Ware concluded. "If you look, if you focus, you can find the funny stuff. It puts all the other stuff in its proper perspective."
Grad congratulates classmates
Jandalynn Stelter gave the message on behalf of the day's graduates. A 2005 Adams State graduate from Colorado Springs, she completed her master's in education, special education - literacy, language and culture.
"Jandy is one of those special students who has been involved on campus from day one," said Dr. David Svaldi, president of Adams State College.
Addressing her classmates, Stelter said, "We did it, all of us together. One thing we have in common is we're all part of the ASC family, that's never going to change. I'll continue to bleed to Grizzly green.
In answer to her own question, "What happens after graduation?" she listed "Jandy's Top Ten 'What Nows.'"
10. Try to find a job.
9. Decide weather moving back in with your parents is best thing --or does the cost of therapy sessions for you and your parents outweigh the cost savings?
8. Consolidate your student loans before collections comes after you.
7. Now that you're a big kid, you need big kid clothes. Find a professional outfit for special occasions, like interviews. This will help the knowledge that is inside you reflect on the outside.
6. Play to win, always.
5. Make time to thank your family and let them know how much you care about them.
4. Keep in touch with your friends who will be scattered all over globe. They love you for you. They'll always have some place to live, if you need a break.
3. Embrace the faculty and staff at ASC. They helped us get where we are. They have been where we are. They can show us the right direction when we're stumbling. Keep those contacts strong.
2. Get a Job. Just do it. You've got a great education and are well qualified. The perfect job is waiting for you.
1. Celebrate today.
Harper named emeritus professor
Adams State's new provost, Dr. Michael Mumper, Adams State Class of 1976, presented emeritus faculty recognition to Dr. Carolyn Harper, who retired this summer after teaching theatre for 23 years.
"We will never be able to replace her and her unique contributions," he said.
Dr. Carol Guerrero-Murphy, chair of the Department of English, Theatre, Communications and Foreign Language, accepted the award on Harper's behalf.
"Dr. Harper is a teacher and scholar who was truly called to being a teacher," Guerrero-Murphy said. "She is well known in the world of Shakespeare literary studies as an author of scholarly criticism.
"In professional character, she exemplifies authority, grace, and decorum. A deeply valued mentor to faculty and students across campus, she demonstrated integrity and restraint, and clear sighted honesty. ... In the classroom, she was one of the most feared and loved - by the same students. ... She's now living in the fragrant woods of Oregon coast, she sails, she is completing a novel."
Guerrero-Murphy added another designation to Harper's recognition, agreed upon by students and faculty: "black belt in everything."
By Julie Waechter