This was a big weekend for the Rodriguez family.
Ashley and Analeshia, 22-year-old twins, each earned Bachelor of Science degrees Saturday in organismal biology. Ariel, their 26-year-old big sister, got a Bachelor of Art degree Friday in economics and business management. They all attended Fort Lewis College, and for Alice Whiteman, the women’s mother who herself graduated from FLC about 34 years ago, it was a proud moment.
“We’re huge supporters of Fort Lewis College,” Whiteman said.
The Rodriguez family shared the excitement and joy of graduating from college with 490 other families who sat, watched and cheered on graduates in the Whalen Gymnasium on Fort Lewis Mesa for three graduation ceremonies spread out over two days: one Friday afternoon, on Saturday morning and on Saturday afternoon.
This weekend’s graduation marked the first time Fort Lewis College has had to divide its graduates into three ceremonies, and everything seemed to go off without a hitch, FLC President Tom Stritikus said.
“Having three graduations is an amazing problem to have,” Stritikus said. “Our staff does an incredible job.”
Newly-elected Colorado Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera delivered commencement speeches at both Saturday ceremonies. She encouraged graduates to embrace life’s obstacles and appreciate struggle for the growth and joy that it often begets.
Primavera campaigned with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis as a champion for affordable health care for all Coloradans. She promoted affordable health care from experience, having dealt with the high medical costs associated with overcoming cancer four times, she said.
“Without (cancer), I wouldn’t be the advocate for health care that I am,” Primavera said. “I wouldn’t be lieutenant governor.”
She also encouraged students to get involved with their communities as they go out into the world. Relationships fuel happiness, Primavera said. And the more students put into their relationships and life, the more they’ll get out of it, Primavera said.
“Don’t think of today as the culmination of your learning,” she said. “You’re just beginning.”