Patrick Kuretich says he wasn’t the greatest student in high school. But college was another story.
He’s the Outstanding Fall 2012 graduate, a 4.0 GPA, summa cum laude student ranked first overall in the Electrical Engineering Technology Program, who will graduate on Dec. 16 at commencement. Fifteen master’s students also are candidates for diplomas.
A total of 1,272 undergraduates are expected to receive their diplomas this December. Among the undergrads are 318 students of color, 96 who are graduating with honors and 51 veterans. The youngest student to receive a degree is 20 and the oldest is 67.
MSU Denver prides itself on this kind of diversity, a quality that includes serving nontraditional students who don’t enroll right after high school. That describes Kuretich, 32, and Catherine Marquez Campbell, whose husband and two sons, ages 28 and 31, will be in the commencement audience.
After working for several years in a variety of jobs—apprentice electrician, retail sales and rental car clerk among them—Kuretich decided to go to college.
“When I met my wife, she thought I was smarter than I let on to be,” he says. A nurse, she encouraged him “to find something you’re passionate about and do your best,” he says. And that’s just what he did.
“It was a lot of hard work,” he recalls. “I would go to the library every day for three or four hours and practice problems and do homework —did it religiously.”
It paid off. He has parlayed an internship with Ulteig Engineers, which has an office in Englewood, into a full-time job there in electric substation design and engineering.
Kuretich says MSU Denver has prepared him well for his career. “It’s top notch,” he says of his soon-to-be alma mater. “The education I got has really helped me in my job.”
Campbell also excelled at MSU Denver with a 3.81 GPA.
She began her pursuit of a degree 12 years ago, at age 39 and after both sons graduated from high school. As a single mother who raised her children in an inner-city neighborhood, Campbell developed what she calls a “keen awareness of struggle and social inequities,” which led her to initially major in human services.
But her path to graduation wasn’t a straight shot. She worked full time and took one or two classes a semester—“a slow and arduous process” as she puts it.
“The fact that I started my education 30 years after many of my classmates really wasn’t an obstacle,” she says. “However, going to school only part time, working full time and ensuring my bills were being paid was a constant challenge.”
After completing her human services practicum, “an expanded interest in my Latino culture and indigenous roots led to reevaluation of my education and career goals.” A veteran of the health care industry, she began studying curanderismo, which incorporates a variety of traditional healing traditions. And that, in turn, led to a degree in holistic health implementation and integration through the Individualized Degree Program.
As for her advice to other nontraditional students, she says: “I would say persistence, determination and good attitude are key to overcoming adversity on life’s journey. Pick yourself up, shake yourself off and just keep trying because youcan do it. “
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