‘Leap into the Unknown’: 2019 Denver Commencement

JWU Denver’s 2019 commencement ceremony.

The Denver Performing Arts Center’s Boettcher Concert Hall provided the perfect ambiance to house the 3,000 people attending JWU Denver’s 2019 commencement ceremony. A traditional bagpiper led the procession of 222 students into the hall, followed by a performance of the national anthem by Kassidy McKevitt '19.

Student speaker Asianna Harris '19 said she was honored to be the first woman of color, first Applied Psychology major, first honors college student and women’s soccer player to deliver the commencement speech for a JWU Denver graduating class.

2019 Denver commencement student speaker Asianna Harris.

"This is our moment to account for how much we have grown as students and professionals."

Harris shared the story of her realization that big transitions and uncomfortable situations are the best opportunities for growth, including her recent acceptance into a master’s degree program at the University of Denver. “I understand that leaving the confines of the Johnson & Wales campus community is a big transition, a transition that may stir up anxiety just at the thought of something or somewhere new. To that I say, ‘Look how far we’ve come,’ ” she noted. “This is our moment to step back and reflect — on our memories, on our experiences, on the tough lessons we’ve learned. This is our moment to account for how much we have grown as students and professionals and take this leap into the unknown.”

Honorary degree recipient Sean McNicholas, president and CEO of Service Systems Associates, delivered this year’s commencement address. McNicholas truly represents the JWU community with his commitment to provide job and internship opportunities to dozens of JWU students and graduates annually. With operations in 26 states and 8,000 employees, he encouraged graduates to own their entrepreneurial outreach: “It all begins with a handshake.”

2019 Denver commencement keynote speaker Sean McNicholas.

Benjamin Garcia '10, director of special events for CaterWest at the National Western Stock Show welcomed the new graduates into JWU’s alumni network.

Garcia shared four life lessons: Be yourself, never stop learning, try differently and don’t get comfortable. He concluded his speech by requesting that graduates close their eyes to reflect on their journey. As they reopened them, the audience held their flashlights high to represent the opportunities and support ahead of them.

With smiles, laughter, cheers and tears, the class of 2019 was sent forth to continue making an impact on the world and sharing the Wildcat Way.

2019 Denver commencement Krakowsky and Wiscott.

Students at the ceremony.

A view of the stage.