‘Our world is counting on you’

Senator tells Fort Lewis grads: Seize adventure, dare to risk

Fort Lewis College graduate Jessica Low tries to get the attention of her family with the help of her boyfriend, Eddy Holt, after the commencement ceremony at Whalen Gymnasium. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Fort Lewis College graduate Jessica Low tries to get the attention of her family with the help of her boyfriend, Eddy Holt, after the commencement ceremony at Whalen Gymnasium.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., encouraged the Fort Lewis College class of 2012 to take risks and embrace every adventure thrown at them in his commencement address to the now FLC alumni.

“There is a value in taking risks, dreaming of something crazy and seeing where it’ll take you,” Udall said. “You will always miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”

The graduates, their friends and families packed Whalen Gymnasium on the FLC campus Saturday for the two graduation ceremonies.

Udall acknowledged that adventures may be difficult to take in the face of lack of certainty in today’s current economy, but he told the graduates to pursue life’s adventures anyway.

Graduates are entering a job market still in upheaval from the recession. The unemployment rate in Colorado is 7.8 percent, compared with a national jobless rate of 8.2 percent, according to a March 2012 report form the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There were 433 graduates, including 11 computer sciences and information systems majors – a program that has been cut for next year.

All programs and majors went up for review in 2012 because of state cuts to higher education, leading agriculture and Southwest studies to be cut along with the computer sciences program.

With the prospect of student-loan interest rates increasing from 3.4 to 6.8 percent, Udall used his commencement speech to make a promise to graduates that he would continue fighting for common sense in the Senate to keep student-loan interest rates down.

He had previously promised to keep politics out of his speech.

Using his previous experience of going door-to-door to garner votes while running for the Colorado House of Representatives, he told the graduates to stay fully committed to whatever they do and anything will be possible.

“Our country and our world is counting on you. We need you,” Udall said.

FLC President Dene Kay Thomas, front, Sen. Mark Udall, back, and Durango Mayor Doug Lyon, left, greet the graduates of 2012 before the commencement ceremony. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

FLC President Dene Kay Thomas, front, Sen. Mark Udall, back, and Durango Mayor Doug Lyon, left, greet the graduates of 2012 before the commencement ceremony.

“This is a Hawaiian graduation,” said FLC graduate Frank Atherton, left, shown here posing for a photo after the commencement ceremony with fellow graduate Luke Geller. Atherton said his family in Hawaii made the leis for him. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

“This is a Hawaiian graduation,” said FLC graduate Frank Atherton, left, shown here posing for a photo after the commencement ceremony with fellow graduate Luke Geller. Atherton said his family in Hawaii made the leis for him.

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