Colorado College Celebrates the Class of 2022

Colorado College honored the Class of 2022 at 8:30 a.m., Sunday, May 22 in Ed Robson Arena on the snowy CC campus. Margaret A. Liu, Colorado native and renowned leader in the fields of vaccines, gene delivery, and cancer immunotherapy, delivered the Commencement address. Liu graduated summa cum laude from Colorado College in 1977.

Five hundred Bachelor of Arts degrees were awarded at the ceremony, which concluded CC’s 148th academic year; 13 Master of Arts in Teaching degrees were also awarded. 

The Class of 2022 has 71 graduating varsity athletes, three Fulbright winners, two National Science Foundation award winners, and a Truman Scholar. In addition, the graduating class includes a Japan Exchange and Teaching Program recipient and two Princeton in Africa Fellowship finalists. Plus, more than 70 seniors have presented research at summer research symposiums at CC and in other forums. A full list of student award winners is available here.

During her Commencement address, Liu inspired graduates with her personal story, sharing the challenges of growing up in Durango, CO, one of only three Chinese families in the town, rarely fitting in with her community and classmates. Liu described how she was motivated by difficult aspects of her life experiences, which shaped her into someone who could “do things in my own way, find my own path,” and learning to cultivate empanthy, not bitterness.

She acknowledged that CC, “in addition to preparing me for my career, imprinted me with the importance of daily decisions and actions that particularly, over a lifetime … are more consequential in real life than are the fictional mega-actions of comic book heroes,” said Liu.

Liu concluded by inviting students to “cultivate gratitude: be thankful for the places and above all, the people, who have powered you, who have imprinted you with incredible capabilities. Now it is your turn to be the giants of vision and spirit in ways both large and little, and to pay it backward and pay it forward, by your decisions, by your daily actions, and by your charity.”

The Class of 2022 chose words from Toni Morrison as their senior class quote, encouraging one another: “As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”

To that advice, President L. Song Richardson added: “Don’t hesitate to set big, ambitious goals, and declare them out loud,” in her address to graduates. This was Richardson’s inaugural Commencement as president of Colorado College; she joined CC July 1, 2021.

As the class arrived on campus in 2018, no one anticipated the tumult, disruption, loss, and resilience these students would experience while pursuing their collegiate careers amid a global pandemic.  

As first-year students, the Class of 2022 Common Read book was “Frankenstein” (or “The Modern Prometheus”) by Mary Shelley, through which students explored themes of diversity, inclusion, equity, and power, preparing them for challenging discussions considering multiple perspectives right from their start at CC. 

The Class of 2022 was selected from 8,552 applicants, a record at that time, and had a 15 percent admittance rate with 59 percent receiving some form of financial aid, 26 percent self-identifying as students of color, 8 percent international students, and 7 percent first-generation students. The class included 44 QuestBridge students; QuestBridge is a nonprofit organization that matches high-achieving, underserved students with opportunities in higher education.

When they arrived at CC, the Class of 2022 students hailed from 45 states, the District of Columbia, and 18 foreign countries. Eight percent of the class was international students, 27 percent from the Northeast, 13 percent from the Midwest, 15 percent from the South, 12 percent from Colorado, and 24 percent from the West.

The Class of 2022 includes artists, athletes, community stewards, poets, and scientists. They speak 37 languages and play 22 musical instruments. The class boasts 39 dual citizens, a North American Irish dancing champion, five pilots, two advanced open water scuba divers, an aerial circus performer, a beekeeper, the CEO of a clothing brand company, and one founder of a bio-diesel startup designed to create efficient fuel for school busses.

During their time at CC, students from the graduating class have taken part in creative research with faculty on topics ranging from analytical chemistry to the on-field performance of NFL wide receivers to the psychology of eating disorders to water issues in the West to cinema as a philosophical exercise. They represented the CC Tigers with pride in athletic competitions at the varsity and club levels. They were involved in activism, leading campus-wide forums to address systemic racism.

Graduates volunteered and held internships with organizations, including the Johns Hopkins Center for Law and Public Health, Lockheed Martin, the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, the Fine Arts Center at CC, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Blackrock, and the State of the Rockies Project.

CC hosted the 2022 Commencement ceremony in a new venue this year: Ed Robson Arena. The arena opened its doors in the fall of 2021, serving not only as the first on-campus home for CC hockey, but also as a multipurpose gathering space for campus events and the Colorado Springs community. As the Commencement 2022 venue, Ed Robson Arena offered complete ADA accessibility and eliminated the need for a weather contingency plan.

Those who received honorary degrees this year were:  

  • Jessie Pocock ’08 is a queer activist leader who has made transformative changes in the nonprofit sector in Colorado. She is the executive director of Inside Out Youth Services, a Colorado Springs LGBTQIA2+ youth nonprofit. Founded in 1990, IOYS builds access, equity, and power with LGBTQIA2+ young people ages 13-24. The organization is an education and advocacy hub that serves several hundred young people inside its community center annually and several thousand young people outside in the community through advocating for inclusive policies locally and statewide. She currently serves as a commissioner on the Colorado State Suicide Prevention Commission and is a 2021 Civico Governors Fellow.

  • Alan Ricks ’05 is a founding principal and chief design officer of MASS Design Group. He leads strategy and design of the 100-person firm, which has projects in over a dozen countries that range from design to research to policy — a portfolio that continues to expand the role of design in advancing a more just world. In 2017, Ricks and MASS were awarded the National Design Award for Architecture from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. First launched at the White House in 2000 as an official project of the White House Millennium Council, the annual awards program celebrates design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world, and seeks to increase national awareness of the impact of design through education initiatives.

  • Pikes Peak Poet Laureate Emeritus Price Strobridge has spent his life in Colorado reading, writing, and reciting poetry. Sharing his zeal and passion for all poetry, and heartening the residents of the Pikes Peak Region to experience the same joy, is his greatest gift to our community. In addition to his hundreds of public performances, Strobridge published “Unmasking the Hearth” (Impavide Publications, 2000), served as Pikes Peak poet laureate from 2012 until 2014, and continues to volunteer his time to involve anyone with heart to acquire a passion for poetry. Now in his seventies, Strobridge continues to write and perform poetry and is one of the best-known and most beloved poets in Colorado and the Southwest.
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