President's Convocation inspires new Mines students

2017 Convocation

Incoming freshmen and transfer students heard from faculty, alumni, President Paul C. Johnson and their peers about what makes Colorado School of Mines special, the challenges they’ll face and how to rise up to them, at the President’s Convocation held Thursday evening, Aug. 18., in Lockridge Arena.

The convocation was followed by an ice cream social, which provided students and their families one last time to get together before the start of the school year.

“Your average SAT composite score is 1341, your average ACT composite is 31 and your average high school GPA is 3.8 on an unweighted 4.0 scale,” said President Paul C. Johnson. “In a nutshell, we have the smartest kids in the room all in one room today, right here in Lockridge.”

Patty Starzer ’83, a member of the Mines Board of Trustees, credited the university with the many successes she and her husband, Michael, also a 1983 graduate of Mines, have enjoyed. The couple contributed toward the construction of the Starzer Welcome Center, completed in 2015, and have been generous supporters for more than 25 years. With two daughters and a son-in-law, as well as other relatives who are either alumni or studying at the school, Starzer said her family’s connections to Mines run deep.

Board member Jesus Salazar, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mines, said the university had developed his ability to evolve his thinking—from learning how individual parts work together inside a machine, to seeing how people come together in an organization to work efficiently and, finally, how groups can come together to make a difference in the world

Tracy Gardner, teaching associate professor of chemical and biological engineering and also a Mines alumna, said addressing the university’s newest students was a dream come true—the culmination of a series of challenges. “As a student, I failed some exams. I cried in front of professors,” she said. “At one point in grad school, I even considered fleeing to Portland—Oregon, Maine, I didn’t really care which.”

But ultimately, she earned three degrees at Mines, made lifelong friends and is living the dream of helping to educate future generations of engineers. “I tell you these experiences to let you know the faculty understand where you are and where you can go, and that we want to help in any way we can to get you there,” Gardner said.

Gardner compared studying at Mines to joining a circus. “You will be a clown—you’ll be amazed to find how hilarious you can be when you’re up studying until 2:30 in the morning,” she said. She likened dealing with crabby roommates to taming lions, and learning to let go to being a trapeze artist. “But the main parallel between a circus and Mines is the need to find balance in all that you do,” Gardner said.

Finally, Gardner offered a poem to the incoming class inspired by her father, her mentors and Dr. Seuss.

Like the trapeze artist, reach beyond…take a chance; join the Ultimate team, ask someone to dance!
Realize sometimes it won’t feel like success; you’ll bomb some exam, you’ll think you’re a mess…
But failing can even be better for you, as you’ll find you learn so much more when you do.

Student speakers echoed that theme of trying new things. Mechanical engineering student Sevy Swift said serving as student representative on the Board of Trustees and treasurer of the Mines Robotics Club, leading the Mines Maker Society and being a peer mentor has enhanced his experience. “I’ve been able to get to know my peers and professors on a deeper level and participated in conversations that help shape the future of Mines,” he said.

“Be undeniably you, and do what makes you happy,” said Quinn Tenorio, a computer science major and Undergraduate Student Government president. “As long as you stick to what you want and only do what makes you happy, your college experience will be nothing short of perfect—I guarantee it.”

Blue Key Honor Society President Kristina Kimball, chemical engineering, urged the new students to step out of their comfort zones and embrace what Mines has to offer. “The people here will impact you in ways you can’t even imagine,” she said.

Mines football captain Dean Wenger, metallurgical and materials engineering, and volleyball captain Ellie Monarch, mechanical engineering, touted the school’s athletics accomplishments, urged students to support their teams and led the arena, with Johnson, in singing the university’s fight song, “The Mining Engineer.”

Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |
Tim Flynn, Director of Communications, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3067 |