Class of 2016

May 2, 2016

Four years ago, during their first week at CU Denver, we introduced you to a group of students from the Class of 2016 in an article titled “Why I chose CU Denver (and not any of the other schools that accepted me.)”

Class of 2016 during their first week of classes in 2012

Four years later as they prepare to graduate, the same students told us about their unforgettable personal and learning experiences at CU Denver and explained how the school they chose changed their lives.

These students had been accepted at outstanding universities in Colorado and across the country, including University of Chicago, Northwestern University, UCLA, San Diego State University, University of New Mexico, Vanderbilt University, Emory University, Howard University, University of Denver, CU-Boulder, Colorado State University and Colorado School of Mines.

Now, they explain why making CU Denver their first choice was the right choice.


Janet Menasah in 2012
Janet Menasah in 2012

Janet Mensah 

Major: Ethnic Studies

 Standout learning experience? “Honors organic chemistry! This course was so hard and so intense, that when I passed it I knew I could do anything. It taught me to persevere. Knowing I could be relentless in my work ethic raised my threshold for challenges I can handle.”

Janet Mensah in 2016
Janet Mensah in 2016

 Unforgettable personal experience? “When I took a course in African-American history, I learned so much about African-American culture, which gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation of the world and the community I am a part of.”

Biggest surprise? “I was surprised at how much community I found here. It’s not traditional like some other colleges, but you can definitely find your place here and make lifelong friends and connections.”

How did CU Denver change you? “It taught me to appreciate people who are different from me. I learned to interact with people, appreciate their differences and resolve conflict. I learned how to mature in my relationships.”

Was this the right choice? “Yes, but it’s important to remember that college is what you make of it. I did my best to be positive and grab the opportunities on this campus. Now I’m ready to go out and make a lasting impact on the world.”



Filiberto Morales in 2012

Filiberto Morales

 Major:  Psychology

 Standout learning experience? “My senior year, I had the opportunity to take a course on the history of Mexico and another course focusing on undocumented immigration. These classes showed me the importance of being an advocate for social justice and inspired me to go on a service trip with a group of students to San Juan, Texas. There, we worked with an organization called LUPE and focused on the social issues surrounding immigration to the United States—by far one of the best experiences of college!”

Filiberto Morales in 2016

Unforgettable personal experience? “I was part of another service trip to the skid-row area of downtown Los Angeles. Here, our group worked with the homeless population in addition to doing HIV/AIDS outreach work with surrounding communities. The experience taught me the importance of recognizing our shared humanity, and by doing so, we can tear down the stigmas that plague our society. Truly a wonderful experience that has stayed with me!”

 Biggest surprise? “I was surprised at how important it was to be in the heart of Denver. I had so many opportunities to apply what I learned in the community.”

How did CU Denver change you? “CU Denver made me a more effective student. In my time here, I learned how I personally learn, which is often one of the biggest challenges students have. I feel much more confident in my abilities.”

Was this the right choice? “It sure was! I feel very prepared, and look forward to starting medical school in August. What I learned here has fueled my passion to someday practice.  medicine in an urban underserved community.”



Josh Blair in 2012

Josh Blair  

Major: Digital Design

 Standout learning experience? “I never liked history, so I wasn’t looking forward to taking a required art history class, but Dr. Maria Buszek was so inspiring that I loved a subject I had always hated. She turned my mindset around, and that gave me more of an open mind for all my classes.”

Josh Blair in 2016
Josh Blair in 2016

Unforgettable personal experience? “I did an internship at a motion-design company and they taught me so many skills. Working for them led me to know what I want to do when I graduate.”

Biggest surprise? “Starting college you know you will be challenged academically, but I was surprised by how much I grew socially and emotionally over four years. As an out-of-state student on the Western Undergraduate Exchange, I did not come to college with a core group of friends I grew up with, so I had to make new friends, find my own path and become independent.”

How did CU Denver change you? “My eyes were opened to new perspectives, and I became more steadfast in who I am. I accept who I am as an individual.”

Was this the right choice? “Definitely. I have made lifelong friends and I have found my career. Someday I hope to be a head designer for a nonprofit organization in the LGBT community. I also want to counsel teens struggling with their identities. Maybe I will someday be a professor in the design program. That would allow me to give back to CU Denver because I wouldn’t be where I am today without the Digital Design program.”



Kevin Huang in 2012

Kevin Huang 

Major: Biology

Standout learning experience?Dr. Kent Nofsinger’s background in the ophthalmology and surgical departments allowed for a unique educational experience within his human anatomy and human pathology courses. His lectures extended far beyond the academic setting, and his descriptive anecdotes provided a rare blend of instructive insight with comedic relief.”

Kevin Huang in 2016
Kevin Huang in 2016

Unforgettable personal experience? “The proximity of the campus to the Pepsi Center and Sports Authority Field at Mile High connected CU Denver to my favorite teams. I will never forget the final 10 seconds of the Broncos-Patriots AFC Championship game this year.”

Biggest surprise? “CU Denver is not a traditional college campus at which students live together in dorms, but I have been surprised at how close-knit the environment still is. You form powerful relationships that will persist with you as you progress through your adult and professional lives.”

How did CU Denver change you? “CU Denver provided ample opportunity to interact with a wide variety of individuals. It empowered me with the experiences to better work with, socialize with, and relate to individuals from all walks of life.”

Was this the right choice? “Yes. I was able to stay close to family during college while obtaining a first-rate preparation for medical school. I am sure the experiences obtained here will remain relevant through the rest of my professional career.”



Iman Mohammed in 2012

Iman Mohamed

Major: Ethnic Studies

 Standout learning experience? “I am a first-generation student from Sudan and when I took a course in African-American family, I learned there is history behind the way I was raised. People behave a certain way because they were pushed in that direction and for my family, it was a matter of survival! By understanding my own community, I became more appreciative and understanding of others.”

Iman Mohamed in 2016
Iman Mohamed in 2016

Unforgettable personal experience? “With the help of wonderful friends and great professors, I learned to love myself as an African-American Muslim woman. I appreciate my strengths, understand my weaknesses and have confidence in my abilities.”

 Biggest surprise? “You can’t be friends with everyone. I am very outgoing, but not everyone has the same desire or friendly intentions. I learned that I can’t understand everything, and that’s okay.”

 How did CU Denver change you? “In high school, I was shy and wouldn’t ask for help from teachers because I didn’t think they believed in me. At CU Denver, I learned to ask because there were so many great professors, advisors and friends who were willing to talk to me. I found an environment where I could trust people to help me.”

 Was this the right choice? “I have no regrets. Someday I hope to lead a group for first-generation students of color in middle and high school to help them transition into college and life. Just like me, they might need help navigating the system.”


Ryan Farmer in 2012

Ryan Farmer

Major: 3D Animation

Standout learning experience? “When the professor introduced me to a motion-capture system in one of my classes, I really loved it because he let me try whatever I wanted. I dressed up in the motion-capture suit and animated a cat-like character I created myself. Compared to 3D programs at other schools, ours was very open-ended and allowed me to be a self-starter.” (Watch Ryan’s animation.)

Ryan Farmer in 2016
Ryan Farmer in 2016

Unforgettable personal experience? “We have guest lecturers from our field and getting to know professionals in the industry made me realize that even though they are famous, they are people just like you and me. If they can do it, I can do it. My goals aren’t unrealistic.”

Biggest surprise? “I came to Denver convinced I would get a degree in the Music Entertainment Industry Studies program and, lo and behold, I discovered that my passion lay elsewhere.”

How did CU Denver change you? “I started here with dreams and goals but I didn’t know how to turn them into reality. Now I have the knowledge and resources to realize my dreams.”

Was this the right choice: “Absolutely. Whatever you want to learn, professors will support you.”


Kara Brown in 2012

Kara Brown  

Major: Sculpture

 Standout learning experience? “I entered college with no knowledge of fabrication. I didn’t really know how to make things with my hands, and I sure didn’t know about any of the equipment I now use to create sculptures. It has been awesome to learn how to make things, whether it’s creating a sculpture, stitching clothes or making anything with metal.”

Kara Brown in 2016
Kara Brown in 2016

Unforgettable personal experience? “During my freshman year, I took a job working in the costume shop of the theater department making costumes for productions. At the time, I was majoring in civil engineering and taking all science classes. But I enjoyed my job so much I had to ask, ‘Why do you love this?’ and I realized it was because I could work with fabric and with my hands. So I changed my major to sculpture. That job changed the course of my life, for sure.”

Biggest surprise? “Recently, I got into fashion design and last winter I had my first fashion show. I like simple shapes and bright colors, clothes you get complimented on without having to be outrageous.”

How did CU Denver change you? “Before I came here, I thought a lot about what other people expected of me and not what I thought was important. At CU Denver, I learned to be myself and trust myself. When I was an engineering major, I learned that I would never be happy working in an office. Through my relationships with students and professors, I learned to develop my own standards for what is important and what will make me happy.”

Was this the right choice? “It was the right choice. It taught me that I want to make art, and if I follow my passion, I will be able to take care of myself.”

Janet Mensah and Kevin Huang in 2012
Filiberto Morales, Janet and Kevin in 2016