Colorado College Celebrates the Class of 2021

Colorado College will honor the Class of 2021 at 9 a.m., Sunday, May 23 at an in-person Commencement ceremony at the new Weidner Field in downtown Colorado Springs. Former CC President Jill Tiefenthaler P ’21, P ’24, now CEO of the National Geographic Society, will deliver the Commencement address and receive an honorary degree.

Approximately 460 Bachelor of Arts degrees will be awarded at the ceremony, which concludes CC’s 147th academic year. It also concludes a year like no other, in which students immersed themselves in virtual and hybrid learning, finding new ways to learn, foster relationships, and build community.Watch members of the Class of 2021 explain their unusual senior year.

Capping a year that truly was unprecedented, the Class of 2021’s motto is “Stumbling is not falling,” attributed to Malcolm X.

The Class of 2021 demonstrated their commitment to Colorado College through their philanthropic senior class gift, directing their efforts toward the Colorado College Mutual Aid Fund. The fund was created by students to support immediate needs, such as housing and food insecurity, facing their classmates.

As the class arrived on campus, CC had just opened the new East Campus housing project, expanded the college’s mission and offerings with the addition of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, and opened the newly renovated and reimagined Tutt Library. The $45 million renovation of Tutt Library, opened on the first day of class, added approximately 25,000 square feet to the building and became the largest carbon neutral, net-zero energy academic library in the United States.

Their Common Read Book was “Citizen: An American Lyric,” by Claudia Rankine, who delivered the capstone address at their New Student Orientation in August 2017. Following the address, the incoming Class of 2021 was invited to pick up eclipse glasses from Armstrong Hall and view the passing solar eclipse. Their four years on campus started with one worldwide phenomenon and ended with another.

The Class of 2021 was selected from 8,222 applicants, a record at that time, and had a 15 percent admittance rate with 51 percent receiving some form of financial aid, 26.7 percent self-identifying as students of color, and 53 being first-generation students. The class included 48 QuestBridge students; QuestBridge is a non-profit organization that matches high-achieving, underserved students with opportunities in higher education.

The students were well prepared to take advantage of what CC had to offer. Statistics on the Class of 2021, compiled when they entered four years ago, show the class as globally aware and diverse: 60 were international students, 44 held dual citizenship, 35 languages were spoken, 10 were Davis United World Scholars, and 53 were first-generation college students.

The class also is creative and intellectual: 23% were in the top 1% of their class (of those ranked), 19 conducted independent research, two organized TEDx events, two spoke at TEDx events, five started their own business, 18 musical instruments were played, one was a stained glass artist, and one designed a robot to help with cleaning.

The class is compassionate and adventurous: two were EMTs, two were firefighters, 10 were Eagle Scouts, one raised guide dogs, two biked across the country, one hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, 53 took a gap year, three summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro, and one was a pilot.

In addition to former President Tiefenthaler, those receiving honors degrees this year are:

  • Gloria Ladson Billings, the former Kellner Family Distinguished Chair of Urban Education and professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Educational Research Association, and the Hagler Institute of Texas A&M University.
  • Katherine Haughey Loo, an active member of the Colorado Springs community for more than 50 years. She served as president of the Headstart Advisory Board and of the Junior League and as a director of the International Association of Junior Leagues. Her career in politics includes six years as city councilwoman and serving on the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. She also co-chaired a capital campaign to renovate and expand the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and recently received the outstanding community citizen award from El Pomar Foundation.
  • Margaret Elise Myers ’72, the director of the Information Technology and Systems Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses. She was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 1992 and served on active duty in the U. S. Army, retiring from the Army Reserve in 2005 at the rank of colonel. She received the U.S. Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award and three Presidential Rank Awards. She has a B.A. in mathematics from Colorado College, an M.S. in operations research from American University, and was the first female Ph.D. recipient from the George Mason University engineering school.
  • Tink Tinker (wazhazhe / Osage Nation), the Clifford Baldridge Emeritus Professor of American Indian Cultures and Religious Traditions at Iliff School of Theology. During his 33 years at Iliff, Tinker brought a distinctly American Indian perspective to a predominantly white, Euro-Christian school, as he continues to do in lectures across the continent. His publications include “American Indian Liberation: A Theology of Sovereignty,” “Spirit and Resistance: American Indian Liberation and Political Theology,” and nearly 100 journal articles and chapters for edited volumes.
  • Scott Yoo, the chief conductor and artistic director of the Mexico City Philharmonic and the music director of Festival Mozaic. He also is the host and executive producer of the PBS series “Now Hear This” on “Great Performances.” He has been the conductor of the Colorado College Summer Music Festival since 2002, and the founder of the Medellín Festicámara, a chamber music program that brings together world-class artists with underprivileged young musicians.
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