We are a few days removed from Commencement but I am still reflecting on what a special weekend it was. We honored approximately 1,450 graduates, celebrating our students’ many accomplishments. Their journeys to earning a degree at UNC are all unique – this cohort of graduates is a diverse group who came from across the state, country, and world to call UNC their educational home. Our graduates represent 46 Colorado counties, 47 states, and 13 international countries. They range in age from 20 to 78 years old. With nearly six decades spanning our oldest and youngest graduates, it shows that it is never too late to earn a college degree.
At 78 years old, Kent Trompeter is our oldest graduate we honored at Commencement last weekend. His age has not deterred him or slowed him down – in fact – he has used it to his advantage. Kent graduated with a degree in Secondary Education and History and will put his degree to use this fall as a history teacher at Oakley High School in Kansas. With a big smile and a great sense of humor he said, “Who better to teach history than me? I’ve lived it.”
Kent served in the Air Force for 14 years right after high school and then worked in data processing for various companies before eventually starting his own. He was inspired by his kids, who have college degrees, to return to school himself. Kent has spoken very highly of his experience at UNC and said he formed great relationships with his fellow classmates. His passion for serving students is admirable and is something we certainly share in common. It was an honor to hand him his diploma this past weekend; I know he will be an excellent teacher and will represent UNC with pride.
Rylea Baumberger is our youngest graduate we honored at Commencement. She is 20 years old and graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. Like Kent, she will be a teacher, only she plans to teach special education students at the elementary level. She said that many of her teachers growing up were UNC graduates and that she knew at a young age she wanted to become a teacher herself. Rylea will be pursuing her master’s degree in special education at UNC this fall while also teaching second grade at an elementary school in Colorado Springs.
In between Rylea and Kent are hundreds of students who each have their own unique success story. It has been a pleasure to get to know many of these students and watch them pursue their dreams. I wish them the best in their future endeavors and hope that they know they will always be able to call UNC their home. While they leave the family of current Bears students, we are now happy to welcome them into the UNC alumni family.