On the Record with Raul: Your Lynx ‘edge’

Commencement day is just around the corner
Raul Cardenas, Ph.D.
CU Denver Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Say it out loud with me, in bold, with all capital letters: COMMENCEMENT! What are we, about a month away from the big day? I never hide the fact that commencement ceremonies always make me emotional. I actually get chills as I watch our students graduate. It’s my privilege to share what will forever rank as one of the biggest days of their lives.

We talk about commencement from Day 1 here at CU Denver, by saying our students begin their academic journey with the end in mind, and that end is your graduation finish line. To those of you with commencement day still off in the future, know that my Division of Student Affairs staff and I will continue to do everything we can to support your success. Then, when you hit your finish, I will be there to celebrate with you.

For our May 2018 CU Denver graduates, I can’t wait to be there when your name is called. And, yes, there’s a good chance I’ll shed a tear or two.

You’re probably thinking now is the time that I offer our graduating students some sage advice, but I really don’t have any. What I do have is more of an observation about what makes our students and graduates unique, the thing that makes CU Denver Lynxes well-equipped to take on roles as career and community leaders.

I call it ‘edge’—grit, tenacity, and drive.

I’ve spent nearly three decades in higher education at four universities, and I’m here to tell you that CU Denver students are unlike any others I’ve been around. In addition to working hard at their academics, I see students who spend endless hours making our university a better place through student organizations, as well as students who volunteer and make a difference.

I hear personal stories from countless students who work multiple jobs to put themselves through school. One student shared with me how they did arduous labor in the fields to earn enough to attend CU Denver, and how every year they’d go back to the fields in order to return to campus the next semester. Like so many others, that student was never deterred and never skipped a beat.

That’s the edge students bring to CU Denver and the edge they take with them out into the workforce after graduation. It makes you special and well-prepared for the challenges ahead.

My hope always as our students graduate is that they don’t ever lose that edge. It carries with it a desire for greatness and the incredible focus it takes to persevere. Never forget about the hard work ethic and desire it took to get to your graduation finish line.

Your edge will serve you well as you begin pursuing your next opportunities.

It’s what sets you apart. The thing that makes you a CU Denver Lynx for life.

Whether you’re graduating this May or sometime later, look for me up on stage. Just like your family and friends, I’ll be bursting with pride at your accomplishment because I understand the edge it took for you to get there. Congratulations Lynx graduates!

Raul Cardenas, Ph.D., is the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver. He’s devoted to student success, enjoys sharing a good laugh, loves commencement, and leads a staff committed to providing the best student experience possible. Raul invites students to schedule a conversation with him. Email Bonnie.Hixson@ucdenver.edu for an appointment.

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