May 13, 2010
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Spring graduation full of success stories
Social Work graduate Naomi Morrow, who is legally blind, poses with her guide dog, Button.
Among the countless stories of triumph and achievement to converge at Sunday’s Commencement ceremony at Metropolitan State College of Denver is that of a social work major who’s legally blind, a track star running toward the 2012 Summer Olympics, and a mother who inspired her children to follow her to college.
Metro State President Stephen Jordan delivers the commencement address at 9 a.m., Sunday, May 16, to what is expected to be the College’s largest-ever spring graduating class. More than 1,600 students are expected to graduate at the College’s first outdoor Commencement ceremony, which will be held at the Auraria Athletic Fields.
It’s a day that holds many meanings for the graduates.
“Graduation to me is a culmination of hard work, accomplished goals and conquering your biggest dreams,” says social work major Naomi Morrow, who was born three months premature and weighed one pound at birth.
As a result she was left legally blind and with a math learning disability called dyscalculia. She has embraced these challenges with grace and an infectious can-do attitude to make things happen, even moving in to her own place at 19, and developing a career as an accomplished sculptor. She says the art community has unintentionally neglected the needs of the visually disabled.
“I believe, when possible, art should be made accessible to all the senses. I feel passionately that museums and artists should be open to creating multi-sensory experiences,” says Morrow, who has been asked to design a tactile art show for the national conference of the Association of Higher Education and Disabilities to be held in Denver July 12-17.
Morrow plans to earn a master’s in art therapy and social work. She would like to leverage her artistic talents and creativity to one day work for an organization that helps disabled veterans.
The site of graduation holds many memories for track star Anthony Luna, who trained on the same field.
A runner’s high
Just days before he graduates, Anthony Luna captured the 800-meter championship on Tuesday in the final day of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships in Pueblo, Colo. It’s one of many accolades the criminal justice and criminology major has collected in his five years at the College. Now, he is eyeing the 2012 Summer Olympics to be held in London.
“I want to take my running to the next level. I still have a lot to prove,” says the 23-year-old Luna, who will graduate on the exact field where he spent so many days training.
For the 2009 NCAA Division II national champion in the men’s indoor and outdoor 800-meter races, he can’t help looking backwards as he looks forward. “I remember being 19 and having a new child and not knowing what to do. Metro State really helped me. I would recommend Metro State to anybody because of the education and the location.”
Leading the way
Veronica Franco, a hospitality, tourism and events major, and her daughter, Angelica, a Chicana/o studies major, will both graduate on Sunday.
Veronica (front) and her daughter Angelica are graduating on May 16
Veronica, a mother of three and grandmother of three, made the decision four years ago to return to school following a separation from her husband. Her decision to return to school wasn’t an easy one. “As part of the orientation process, I was asked to keep a journal,” said Veronica, who enrolled at Pueblo Community College, modeling an example her daughter would follow a few days later. “I know how far I’ve come when I read my journal, I can hear the fear and trepidation of the task I was faced with. There were plenty of times where I just sat in my truck in the parking lot at school asking myself what I was doing.”
Angelica moved to Denver. Her mother commuted two hours back and forth two or three days a week, as she had other family obligations. The commute turned into her own study time, as she recorded things she needed for class.
A new chapter begins for each after graduation. Angelica is considering an advanced degree. Her mother plans to open her own bakery.
“We feel everything happens for a reason and it’s important to help others just as others have helped us overcome our obstacles. We love Metro and we wouldn’t go anywhere else because there isn’t a place with more diversity and opportunity,” says Angelica. Read more of their story in the May 9 Denver Post.
Graduates, their family and friends are encouraged to check the Commencement Web site for up-to-the-minute news and information about this Sunday’s Commencement exercises, including any detours in place for the Colfax Marathon.