Carrie Besnette Hauser

“We’re so proud of all the students that will be graduating this year, and we also know that this is unusual, and unprecedented,” Carrie Besnette Hauser, president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College, says during her opening of CMC’s remote commencement ceremonies.

Colorado Mountain College hosted a remote commencement ceremony for each of its campuses last weekend. The celebrations included a combination of pre-recorded addresses, student profiles and materials sent to graduating students before the ceremonies took place.

The Leadville and Salida campuses’ virtual ceremony took place on a website CMC set up to host recorded addresses, a schedule and a complete list of all students graduating this spring. Profiles containing information about the students and the degree they earned accompanied the names of the 157 graduates.

The site went live on May 15 at noon, giving students, families and other participants the opportunity to view the pre-recorded commencement proceedings at any point over the weekend.

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which established women’s right to vote in the United States, all CMC commencement ceremonies featured women in prominent roles relevant to programs offered by the school.

“When we think about those women, and the passion that they had to pursue their purpose and develop the skills that were necessary to make it happen, that’s what I hope that you are doing as well,” Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, said in her opening address early in the ceremony.

CMC Leadville and Salida featured Jen McLaren, president of Smartwool, as the keynote speaker.

McLaren acknowledged the unprecedented circumstances in which students were graduating and emphasized the need for creativity, adaptability and resilience among them.

“I encourage you all to look for the silver linings throughout this challenging time,” McLaren said. “I am a big believer in hope. Hope gets you through the dark days. It also motivates you to make a difference.”

McLaren encouraged students to look ahead and to learn from the challenges they face, now and in the future, drawing comparisons between this historical moment and women’s struggle to earn the right to vote 100 years ago.

Students and remote participants were encouraged to take picture as they participated remotely and post them to social media as the ceremony took place.

Leadville local and St. Vincent Hospital employee Karen Onderdonk, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in leadership and management, delivered the student address following McLaren’s speech.

The ceremony drew to a close when Kent Clement, faculty in the Outdoor Recreation Leadership Program, read the names of all graduating students. Finally, students were asked to turn the tassels atop their mortar boards, which had been mailed in advance, signifying the transition that is graduation.

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