Crews work to clear snow from chairs at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Folsom Field on May 9, 2019.

University of Colorado Boulder graduates braved the cold and snow for their graduation ceremony Thursday donning ski goggles, snowsuits and umbrellas.

“It’s not a Colorado graduation without snow,” said Hjordis Robinson, a business management graduate, while waiting at Norlin Quadrangle to begin the procession.

“If it snows, you’re blessed,” added her friend, Haasini Ravisankar, who studied advertising.

While the weather was less than ideal, graduates still flocked to The Sink on Boulder’s University Hill for celebratory drinks before commencement.

“It just feels good to finally be done with school after 16 years,” said Chelsea Park, a journalism major who plans to return to Los Angeles to work in television production. “Good riddance.”

More than 8,600 degrees were conferred at this year’s commencement, including 6,595 bachelor’s degrees, 1,421 master’s degrees, 176 law degrees and 427 doctoral degrees.

While many said they were relieved to be finished with school, some also said they appreciated the opportunities they got during their time in higher education.

Leina Hutchinson, who graduated with her master’s degree in aerospace engineering, said on her way to the Norlin Quad that she was both excited and relieved, and happy for the hands-on experiences she had at CU Boulder.

“I’m looking forward to becoming a real adult,” said Hutchinson, who plans to work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

Kristal Walters, an anthropology and dance graduate, received her degree with her service dog, Rona, by her side. She wants to start a dog training business, she said, although she also might come back for graduate school.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss it,” she said about CU Boulder.

Savannah Sellers, an alumna and correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC as well as co-host of NBC’s Snapchat show “Stay Tuned,” delivered a shortened version of her commencement address amid the snowfall. Sellers, 27, joked that while she couldn’t give students the wisdom of all ages, she could share some wisdom of our ages.

Sellers watched other commencement addresses to prepare, and saw a common theme of people encouraging students to chase their dreams. While she also encourages that, she said students need to be prepared for the harsh realities that accompany that pursuit.

“Chasing your dreams is often going to be a nightmare,” she said. “(…) It might even make you wish you dreamed something else.”

To cope with those hard times, Sellers gave four tips. First, she said graduates should see their age and other unique qualities as their superpowers.

“When impostor’s syndrome knocks on your door, punch it in the face,” she said.

Second, she said graduates need to create their own opportunities to pursue their dreams, even if that means working on the weekends.

Third, she encouraged graduates to keep the good friends they’ve made, as well as family, in their lives to help them get through the dark times. Sellers said they could all learn from Danny Giger, a CU Boulder student who died at 21 in a skiing accident at Breckenridge Ski Resort in 2018. Giger “loved people hard,” she said.

Sellers also told graduates that they should find meaning in their work, because it would help them love life and their jobs more than if they don’t.

Lastly, she told the crowd to “remember when you wanted what you have right now.”

“We’re always challenging ourselves to an encore,” she said, adding that while that can be good, “every now and then you have to pump the brakes and enjoy what you have.”

President Bruce Benson attended the ceremony. It’s one of the last graduations he will attend as president of the University of Colorado system before retiring on June 30.

“It’s been great working with all these people,” he said after the ceremony. Benson has attended just shy of 100 graduations, having only missed a couple when he was sick.

Benson finds it funny when people thank him for attending the ceremonies, he said.

“Isn’t the whole plan to graduate kids?” he said. “I think it’s important to come to these. It’s a happy day for everybody.”

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