Graduates at the Spring 2022 CU Denver Commencement Ceremony

CU Denver Fall Graduates Focus Futures on Creating Inclusive Communities

December 6, 2023

Community-minded Outside CEO, entrepreneur, and CU Denver alumnus Robin Thurston will serve as Commencement speaker

DENVER—More than 1,300 students will cross the stage at the University of Colorado Denver’s fall commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 16. For each of them, this milestone marks a moment in their educational journey that will launch careers, impact their communities, and inspire others. The graduates will include future doctors, public servants, engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers, and leaders.

Meet Our Graduates

Among the graduates are Helen Gover, who is earning a bachelor’s degree in music business and a minor in business fundamental, and Jarrett Hardy, who is receiving his master’s in architecture after earning his Bachelor of Science in architecture and minor in construction management from CU Denver in 2020.

Gover’s heritage is a critical part of her identity. She is Diné, Pawnee, and Choctaw and co-founded the first ever Tri-Institutional Native Indigenous Student Alliance with CU Denver and MSU Denver.  

She also created the first “All My Relations Celebration” music festival at Levitt Pavilion Denver earlier this year. The event celebrated Indigenous artistry through music, dance, and art by bridging cultural heritage with a contemporary lens and was done in partnership with CU Denver and the Denver Indian Center. 

After graduation, Gover will continue her work as Levitt’s Communication Assistant and continue growing the All My Relations Celebration. She also plans to pursue music supervision work and attend grad school in the future to attain an MBA. Her ultimate goal is to create an organization that uplifts Indigenous artists.

Hardy is also intent on creating spaces that better reflect and support diverse communities. He credits CU Denver’s focus on workforce development, internships, and classes for giving him direct access to perspectives of people from all walks of life. And the university’s downtown location gave him a real-world perspective on what he was learning in the classroom.

“I’m still a student, but I’m already contributing to design,” he said. “I am affecting and influencing the city and the community I am a part of.”

Hardy’s next step after graduating is to continue with his current firm and get his architecture license. One day, he hopes to take on global work, especially in Ecuador, his mother’s home country and a place he regularly visits.

2023 Class Statistics

CU Denver serves a diverse student population. Of the students expected to graduate, close to 700 will earn bachelor’s degrees, more than 600 will earn master’s degrees, and 38 will graduate with a PhD/EdD. These students come from throughout Colorado, 15 states, 19 nations around the world, and 37 self-identify as Native American. Many find their place at CU Denver as transfer students—close to 2/3 of graduating undergrads this term—because of the university’s quality education and commitment to fostering an inclusive community. 

“Our newest graduates reflect an incredible diversity of backgrounds and experiences, while moving forward with a shared foundation of values and positive purpose cultivated through their CU Denver experience,” Chancellor Michelle Marks said. “I can’t wait to see how they lead, innovate, and change the world for the better, as CU Denver’s 120,000 alumni have done for more than 50 years.”  

Keynote Speaker

CU Denver alum Robin Thurston, CEO and founder of Outside Interactive, Inc.
CEO and founder of Outside Interactive, Inc., Robin Thurston, MS ’99, is the Fall 2023 Commencement keynote speaker.

CEO and founder of Outside Interactive, Inc., Robin Thurston, MS ’99, is the keynote speaker. As a CU Denver alum and entrepreneur, he will share his journey with the graduating class. Additionally, he will speak about his company’s collaboration with the university called Outside Lab, set to open in 2024, which will use the latest in tech and research expertise to test outdoor gear and aid in education, brand consultation, workforce development, and product reviews. As a lifelong cyclist, he is on a mission to Get Everyone Outside—whether they are longtime adventurers or those just getting started. He is the CEO of the world’s leading creator of outdoor content and home to iconic brands like Outside Magazine, Warren Miller, Pinkbike, GaiaGPS, and others. His company also has plans for the Outside Festival, a new outdoor industry experience at Civic Center Park in the summer of 2024. Thurston received his MS in Finance from CU Denver and is honored to usher in the next class of fellow graduates.

Media Contact:

Jennifer Woodruff (she/her)
Director of Public Relations & Integrated Media University Communications
University of Colorado Denver