May 7, 2012
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Diversity on display during 2012 Spring Commencement on May 13
By Cliff Foster
|Adrienne Brooks Arnold: "Metro State has helped me learn to appreciate the journey."|
Metro State’s diversity will be on display May 13 when 1,880 graduation candidates celebrate their accomplishments during Spring Commencement at the Auraria Athletic Fields.
A total of 1,820 undergraduates and 60 master’s students are candidates for degrees. In the 2012 undergraduate class, there are 457 students of color—25 percent of the total and a 40 percent increase over the 326 last spring.
Females are 59.5 percent of the graduating class. More than 13 percent—244 undergrads—will receive their degrees with honors: 70 cum laude, 101 magna cum laude, 73 summa cum laude. The top 10 majors are psychology, biology, criminal justice and criminology, management, behavioral science, history, art, accounting, English and social work. Teacher licensure graduates total 219.
Transfer students dominate the Class of 2012. Among them are two remarkable grads who took circuitous routes to their degrees.
Adrienne Brooks Arnold, winner of the President’s Award, was a top student in high school. She became pregnant at age 17 and figured her future career would involve little more than waiting tables.
But years later, after earning an associate of arts degree at Pikes Peak Community College, she enrolled at Metro State and found her calling in integrative therapeutic practices.
Not that her road to graduation was easy. While attending Metro State, she bore much of the financial burden for supporting her family; Arnold and her husband have two children. As one professor put it she “works constantly.” Maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA, Arnold received two 2011 scholarships.
|Van McKellar: “I’ve always been a studious person.”|
A registered massage therapist and licensed birth coach, Arnold would like to attend a naturopathic or osteopathic medical school, though she doesn’t know if her circumstances will allow it. “What I do know,” she says,” is that this experience at Metro State has helped me learn to appreciate the journey, whatever that journey is.”
Also making an unusual journey to commencement is Van McKellar, who is graduating cum laude with a major in African and African American Studies and a minor in history—at age 72. That makes him the most senior senior in the Class of 2012 (five candidates are the youngest at 20).
Metro State is a family affair for the McKellars. Two of his four daughters are Roadrunners. Rachael (’95) graduated with a degree in social work and Roslyn is an accounting student at Metro State.
McKellar served in the Air Force, was president of a United Auto Workers Local 29 in Fort Worth in the early 1970s, and worked for more than 20 years as a machinist in Texas and in Denver after he moved to the area in 1985. McKellar is a minister at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ Ministries in Aurora.
He finished the 10th grade in 1956 and didn’t step back into an academic classroom until 2006 when he enrolled in the Community College of Aurora. He transferred to Metro State in 2009.
He didn’t find it difficult to rekindle his education in his mid-60s. “I’ve always been a studious person.” So studious, it turns out, that as a single father he home-schooled Roslyn from the ninth grade through high school.
“I caught the learning fever homeschooling my daughter,” he said. “She went off to college to finish her education, and I went right behind her.”