CMU to host first December graduation

About one-third of the graduating students who walk at commencement each spring at Colorado Mesa University completed degree requirements the previous summer or fall, according to Colorado Mesa spokeswoman Dana Nunn.

Students who finished their degree programs this summer or fall will be able to celebrate graduation earlier this year, when the school hosts its first December commencement ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 16 in Brownson Arena.

As of Tuesday, 142 students are signed up to walk at the ceremony. Approximately 400 will be eligible to walk if they complete their degrees by the end of this semester.

The school decided to add a December commencement to “make life easier on the students,” Nunn said.

“A lot of students done in December are not likely to come back in May, depending on where their life takes them” after they finish classes, Nunn said.

Ryan Hendershot, a former Colorado Mesa student trustee who will offer the student address at next month’s commencement, said he knows some former students skipped May graduation because they started working immediately after they finished school and felt odd going back in time for the milestone of celebrating graduation.

“I think it’s really cool we’re being recognized in December. It encourages those students who do graduate in December to walk and have that rite of passage,” Hendershot said.

Master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees and certificates will be awarded at the commencement ceremony, which will honor Colorado Mesa and Western Colorado Community College graduates. Hendershot will graduate Dec. 16 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in accounting. He said he is graduating midyear because he switched his major from accounting after he worked at an accounting firm and decided he wanted a different career.

Hendershot said he believes midyear graduates are likely to become more common as students transfer, change majors or take classes when they can afford to in today’s economy.

“It may become difficult to stay on track and stay in school for some students. Sometimes it takes four, five six years. Students piecemeal their way to the end sometimes,” he said. “It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a sign of the times changing.”


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