ASC awards honorary MBA to Congressman Salazar at Commencement

(05-12-2009)

Like green leaves budding on the cottonwoods and lilacs, Adams State's 2009 graduates blossomed into the world May 9. Fittingly, the day's special music was Leo Delibes' "Flower Duet," sung by ASC music professors Dr. Chris Keitges and Dr. Beth Wagstrom.

Congressman John Salazar, ASC Class of 1982, gave the commencement address and was awarded an honorary Master's of Business Administration degree.

Congressman John Salazar, ASC Class of 1982, gave the commencement address and was awarded an honorary Master's of Business Administration degree.

Adams State presented its first honorary Master's of Business Administration to Congressman John T. Salazar, Adams State Class of 1982, who was the Commencement speaker. The college's new online MBA program begins in June.

The college also awarded 194 bachelor's degrees, 142 master's degrees, and 18 associate's degrees. Adams State President David Svaldi noted that some graduates and families had traveled from New Zealand, the Phillipines, and Guam to attend the ceremony.

Jennifer Carter gave a message on behalf of the Class of 2009. Earning a B.S. in business administration/management, she served as president of the Grizzly Activity Board and General Manager of KASF student radio.

Business graduate Jennifer Carter gave a message on behalf of the Class of 2009.

Business graduate Jennifer Carter gave a message on behalf of the Class of 2009.

"Looking out at my fellow graduates, I see accomplishment, I see perseverance, and I see strength. I see seats full of dreams and a room full of support. I am overwhelmed with pride to be graduating with a class so full of promise." Referencing a comment by President Obama, she said, "Now is our time to write the next chapters in our story. It's our time to be the riskmakers, the doers, and makers of things."

Introducing the Commencement speaker, Svaldi said: "John Salazar is a wonderful example of an ASC Great Story. From humble beginnings and with hard work he has risen to become not only a regional leader, but a leader in the US Congress. He is also a friend to all across party lines, unpretentious, and approachable."

Salazar began his talk by noting: "There is no place I would rather be today than here." He expressed gratitude to his family for his own education, and emphasized the importance of community service.

"I knew I had to complete my education, because 400 years ago my ancestors came to this new land," said Salazar, who attended Adams State after Army Service while raising a family. "My parents had strong hearts and a commitment to make sure their children would have opportunities they never had themselves."

Although their ranch in the southern San Luis Valley had no electricity, Salazar's parents emphasized the importance of an education; the family often gathered to read from the Encyclopedia Britannica.

"My father told us he could not give us money, but he wanted to make sure each one of us got a college education, because that was something no one could take away from us. All eight of us received at least one college degree."

Salazar concluded his speech with a story of his father, Henry Salazar, who, despite the ravages of Alzheimer's, insisted in being buried in his World War II Staff Sergeant's uniform.

"He was an individual who believed in public service, and although he had forgotten almost everything else in life, he had not forgotten two things: he had not forgotten how much he loved his family, nor how much he loved his country and how proud he was to serve. Nothing gives you more satisfaction than to be able to give to others and to your country." Salazar is in his third term as a representative of Colorado's Third District in the U.S. Congress. He was appointed to the House Committee on Appropriations in the 111th Congress, where he sits on the Energy and Water and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittees. From 2003-04, Salazar served in the Colorado State House of Representatives, representing District 62. One of only a handful of active farmers in Congress, Salazar farms and ranches on the same property his clan has held in Conejos County since the mid-1800s.

By Julie Waechter