Adams State graduates will continue their journeys well prepared


Photos by Linda Relyea Adams State students pick up their diplomas and cross the stage in the historic Richardson Hall Auditorium. Few noticed the near-freezing temperatures as they gathered after the commencement ceremony on the front lawn of Richardson Hall to reunite with flowers, hugs and smiles for the class of 2021.

ALAMOSA — Armando Valdez exuded positive energy and shared encouraging advice at the Adams State University Fall Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 18.

“Today’s cheer is for you, your hard-work, your leadership, and your followership in your journey of learning, growth, enhancement and refinement,” Valdez said.

Assistant Professor of Marketing Valdez capped his tenure at the University as the commencement speaker before continuing his professional career as the State Director of the United States Department of Agriculture-Rural Development for Colorado. He spoke to the students about their responsibilities to share their new skills and knowledge to support family and community.

“Part of your responsibilities are to be ambassadors to the world on behalf of Adams State University,” Valdez said. “Take this as additional confidence in your talents, skill sets, ideas, creative approaches, logical and analytical evaluations, and your ability to help others and cultivate relationships.” 

Valdez spoke from his background in business and as a farm and ranch owner encouraged the Class of 2021 to be strategic, conceptual, and entrepreneurial.

“Being entrepreneurial is not exclusive to business functions,” he said. “It is about idea implementation. Be creative, develop ideas and work on action plans to put your ideas into tangible outcomes which benefit you and others. It is okay to be a dreamer. Dreamers offer progress and lead to the evolution of our collective success. We all need creative dreaming, but find ways to make your dreams a reality. Focus on big dreams, and big ambitions…it is your pursuit and ambition that matters.”

He sent the newest Adams State graduates off to continue their exciting journey, “which will lead to fulfillment and contribution.”

Welcoming the graduating class and guests, Adams State President Cheryl D. Lovell remarked on the significance of ending the 100-year anniversary of the University in Richardson Hall Auditorium.

“The very foundation of Adams State began in this one building, named in honor of the first president, Ira Richardson,” Lovell said.

The intimate space filled with cheers as students crossed the stage to receive their diploma.

Among them, Mathew Burcin, molecular and cellular biology major, delivered the class message. An Eagle Scout, Burcin graduated with highest honors in three-and-a-half years. He compared a tough climb up Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental United States, with his academic journey at Adams State.

“Now my story of climbing Whitney serves to represent our academic story, you all get to hike to the top with me,” Burcin said. During his analogy, he recalled getting closer to the top.

“…We can see where we began but that mountain top is still quite a distance away. The semester is coming to a close and we make the final push up the mountain, see the top, touch it, and let out a sign of relief,” Burcin said.

Burcin inspired the audience to continue their great story.

“…Every moment you wanted to quit, you ignored, kept hiking and accomplished an incredible feat,” he said. “You learned a lot, matured, and now have the skills to conquer the next mountains you face... As our time here at Adams State University comes to an end, many more and greater mountains are to come. But we are prepared now, we have the tools for success. All our hardships and challenges strengthened us. We are certified mountaineers.”

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