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Opening Convocation Kicks Off 146th Academic Year

Colorado College’s Opening Convocation will be held at 9 a.m., Monday, Aug. 26, in Shove Memorial Chapel. The ceremony helps to welcome the Class of 2023 and transfer students, and marks the beginning of the college’s 146th academic year. Following Opening Convocation, students and faculty will head to classes for the first day of the 2019-20 academic year.

CC’s practice of conferring alumni honorary degrees at Opening Convocation began in 1986 as a way of honoring graduates for their achievements and introducing them to the college community as examples of what students can aspire to when they graduate. The degree is restricted to CC alumni, and the individuals chosen exemplify the successful application of their Colorado College education. This year, following welcome addresses from President Jill Tiefenthaler and Ethan Greenberg ’20, president of the Colorado College Student Government Association, honorary degrees will be awarded to Adam S. Kim ’98, Felisa A. Gonzales ’01, and Colby Coombs ’89.

Physician and researcher Kim will present the keynote address, “Press On.” Kim, who graduated with a degree in neuroscience, has focused his medical career on preventing colon cancer, treating patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and researching the gut microbiome and colon cancer prevention techniques. He has authored more than a dozen medical pa­pers in gastroenterology, including a piece in the New England Journal of Medicine. After graduating from CC (where his brother and two uncles also attended), he went to medical school at the University of Minnesota, trained in internal medicine in Minneapolis, and then trained in gastroenterology at Yale University.

Gonzales serves as research, evaluation, and strategic learning manager at the Colorado Trust, where she oversees the evaluation of a funding strategy that aims to establish a field of advocates who can promote health equity through policy. Gonzales received a Boettcher Scholarship to attend CC and graduated with a degree in neuroscience, a minor in Spanish, and a certificate in international relations. Gonzales, who hails from Colorado’s San Luis Valley, is a recipient of the Watson Fellowship, which allowed her to travel to Brazil, Guatemala, and Sri Lanka to examine instances of spiritual possession from psychological, social, and religious perspectives.

Coombs is the co-founder of the Alaska Mountaineering School, where he guides Denali expeditions and specializes in mountaineering programs for active-duty and wounded veterans. When he was 18, he climbed Denali with legendary guide Brian Okonek. An epic climb with storms, rescues, and an unlikely summit led to an additional 30 years of climbing Denali and 30 more summits. Coombs and his roommate, Ritt Kellogg, were best friends and climbing partners at CC, and pursued climbing and professional mountain guiding together after graduation. During one of their Alaska climbing expeditions, the pair was hit by an avalanche, and Kellogg was killed. The Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund at Colorado College provides an avenue for Coombs and many of Kellogg’s other friends to channel their loss into celebrating his adventurous spirit. More than 26 years later, the Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund is thriving as a testament to Kellogg’s legacy.