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FLC’s class celebrates resilience at the 2024 Spring Commencement Ceremony
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FLC’s class celebrates resilience at the 2024 Spring Commencement Ceremony

More than 370 graduates walked at Spring Commencement.

Native American student speaking at commencementDURANGO— They faced lockdowns, masks, and a relentless barrage of rules and regulations, often helping their professors manage online classes as they traversed the turbulent waters of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Throughout all that, you also navigated college. And you made it, and we’re very proud of you and the growth we saw happen,” Fort Lewis College Faculty Senate President Ellen Paul told about 370 graduates who this year walked at Spring Commencement.

“We’re excited about what you’re going to do next. This world has so much need for improvement, so use your education to keep learning and listening. Choose conversation over division, even when it's uncomfortable.”

Hundreds of family members and friends attended this year’s ceremony at Ray Dennison Field.

In his last ceremony as FLC President, Tom Stritikus said the staff and faculty take great pride in preparing students for the challenges and successes ahead.

Native American drummers

“FLC students are hell-bent on making the world and their communities a better place. We know our investment in our students will pay great societal dividends,” said Stritikus, who in March announced he’d leaving the college after commencement to become president at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Taralyn Sloan, who served as the student body vice president for the 2023-24 academic year, said that graduation symbolizes "a fresh start for each and every one of us." Sloan graduated with degrees in B.A. Philosophy, B.S. Biology, and a Pre-Health Certificate.

“We may have stumbled and fallen, but we never lost our focus,” she said. “We rose to the occasion and persevered. And our journey doesn't end here; it's just the beginning. There’s still so much to learn, more to achieve and more to give. The world is waiting for you to make your mark.”

Keynote speaker Kali Fajardo-Anstine, an author renowned for her insightful portrayals of the Chicano and Latinx communities in the American West, emphasized that while the path forward may present its share of hurdles, the graduating students are equipped with the invaluable tools of knowledge and skills to transcend them.

Keynote speaker Kali Fajardo-Anstine Fajardo-Anstine said she herself struggled with generational trauma and depression and was even told she “wasn’t cut out for school.” Ultimately, she found authors and books she loved, and pursued a career as a writer. Now, she is a professor at Texas State University.

“Even in times of struggle, you will be blessed with meaning on the other end,” Fajardo-Anstine said. “Your education can never be taken away from you, you earned this.”

Andrea Chavez, of Pueblo, said she really enjoyed the keynote. “She had really good points about graduating, and life. I liked her a lot, I think it was a real good ceremony.”

Students posing for photosKristy Martinez, who is Hispanic and a first-generation student, recalled those early years of COVID-19, as she struggled being away from her family, and finding the resources to be a successful college student and build a community on campus.

She said that if she could, she would tell her younger self to ask for help, especially from your professors.

“Many first-year and first-gen students don’t like asking for help because they don’t want to look like they don’t know what they’re doing or get made fun of,” she said. “Going to my professors’ office hours and learning more about them and them learning about me really helped! They love it when students come and visit them during their office hours.”

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