Graduate celebrating in front of Tivoli Station

Together Again: Cross the Quad Celebrates Graduates

May 18, 2021

For the first time in over a year, CU Denver’s downtown campus came alive with the energy of hundreds of ecstatic graduates, decked in caps and gowns and accompanied by proud family members. Coined “Cross the Quad,” the unique commencement activity took place the mornings of May 17 and 18, drawing 939 graduates, who each walked across a stage set up on the Tivoli Quad and received their diplomas from Chancellor Michelle Marks.  

After a year unlike any other, there was much to celebrate. 

Chancellor Marks handing out diploma
Chancellor Marks hands a diploma to a graduating student at the May 17 Cross the Quad.

“This all feels very surreal,” said Michele Joanne Williams McBride, a first-generation student who earned her EdD in education leadership and equity from the School of Education and Human Development. McBride and her parents said they appreciated the timing of the event—it was short and sweet without long speeches that are traditionally part of commencement ceremonies. “And, my parents even got to walk with me to the stage,” McBride added. 

After COVID-19 forced the university to go virtual for commencement ceremonies in the spring and fall of 2020, CU Denver was thrilled to announce a new format for the spring 2021 commencement. The goal of Cross the Quad was to minimize the length of time graduates were on campus and decrease the number of touchpoints while still providing a meaningful in-person opportunity.  

“Seeing our graduates and their loved ones on campus for Cross the Quad has made my heart so full,” said Kelly Mason, assistant director of University Events. “These graduates have not only worked hard but also persevered through the odds this year to complete their degrees, and I’m glad that we could provide a celebration for them.” 

Graduates celebrating
Students celebrate during Cross the Quad.

2020 graduates were also invited to participate in Cross the Quad. One of them was Daryl Boyd, who received an M.A. in arts and learning from the School of Education and Human Development last July. Joined by his partner and sister, he appreciated the invite to participate in a major milestone—walking across stage in a cap and gown. “After a tough year, it feels really good to be in-person,” Boyd said.  

Other graduates echoed a similar sentiment. Emotions ran high as students reconnected on campus with their peers and professors for the first time in roughly 15 months.  

“It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” said Mynam Truong, who earned her B.S. in psychology from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She was surrounded by a tight-knit group of friends, as well as her mom and sister, whose smiles and laughs were contagious. “I feel so proud of myself, and I feel accomplished,” Truong said.  

Cross the Quad is a testament to CU Denver’s commitment to its students. After one of the most challenging years in modern history, the university can’t wait to welcome back its heart and soul—the students, faculty, and staff—to in-person learning and activities this fall.    

Spring 2021 Virtual Commencement Ceremony 

CU Denver hosted a virtual commencement ceremony on May 15, featuring remarks by Chancellor Michelle Marks, the deans of each school and college, and keynote speaker Danielle Shoots. In Shoots’ candid speech, she reminds graduates to enjoy the journey, no matter where it may lead.

Additional photos from Cross the Quad—click to enlarge: