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Opening Convocation Starts CC's 144th Academic Year

Colorado College welcomes 531 members of the Class of 2021 and 30 transfer students at Opening Convocation, 9 a.m., Monday, Aug. 28 in Shove Memorial Chapel, 1010 N. Nevada Ave. The ceremony marks the start of CC’s 144th academic year.

Colum McCann, recipient of the National Book Award and the International IMAC Dublin Literary Award, will deliver the keynote address, titled “The Radical Adventure of Getting Lost.” Also addressing students is Dorsa Djalilzadeh ’18, president of CC’s Student Government Association. McCann is the award-winning author of six novels and three collections of short stories. His most recent collection, “Thirteen Ways of Looking,” has received rave international reviews and “Let the Great World Spin,” published in 2009, received numerous awards including the 2009 National Book Award, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China and several other major international literary prizes.

The ceremony also will honor three distinguished alumni with honorary degrees.

  • Roberto G. Gonzales ’92 is professor of education at Harvard University and a national expert on issues at the intersection of immigration and education. A native of Colorado, Gonzales graduated from Palm­er High School, just down the street from the CC campus.
  • Melissa Hyde ’85 is professor of art history and Research Foundation profes­sor at the University of Florida. Her field is 18th- and 19th-century European art, with an emphasis on cultural history, gender studies, feminist theory and the history of art criticism.
  • Alan H. Woo ’71 is a community activist who advocates for the poor. He was born in Toisan, China, and immigrated to the United States in the 1950s, growing up in South Central Los Angeles. He saw firsthand how inadequate education, limited opportunities and racial disparities resulted in civil unrest. These experiences led to a lifetime of work in community organizing.

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 liberal arts education.

The incoming class, culled from a record 8,222 applicants, 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 includes 48 QuestBridge students; QuestBridge is a non-profit organization that matches high-achieving, underserved students with opportunities in higher education.

Members of the incoming class bring a diverse range of skills and experiences with them. Among them, they have:

  • Designed and used a program to re-format music for a violinist with a blind spot in the Chicago Symphony
  • Made solar-powered radios and fans for his school with parts from a recycle station and sold them to help further research in sustainable development. (Also made a vacuuming robot to help his mom clean!)
  • Worked on a collaborative theatre performance on Armenian genocide
  • Hosted two international men who received life-saving aortic valve replacements by driving them to appointments and caring for them through recovery
  • Conducted sustainability research at New York University to make New York City's recycling more efficient; also worked to pass legislation in order to minimize light pollution in NYC.
  • Created a three-day intensive course on baking which is now in its third year of operation.
  • Helped the family grow rice by transplanting rice seeds into paddy field
  • Interned at BURN Design Lab to test clean fuel efficient stoves for production in Kenya
  • Translated for 30 foreign skiers in Vasaloppet China Skiing Competition
  • Conducted research on the expression of the PPARG protein in precancerous squamous cell skin carcinoma to determine whether it may be a precursor for the progression of cancer
  • Researched and filmed a 10-minute documentary about the development of graffiti in Shanghai

Following Opening Convocation, students and faculty will convene for the first day of class. At 1 p.m. the campus community will celebrate the new Tutt Library with festivities and ice cream in the library courtyard.