Every spring, another crop of new DU graduates finish their studies, leave campus and set off to change the world. At the May and June Commencement ceremonies, the University bid farewell to some 1,100 graduate, 240 law and 1,200 undergraduate students who will take what they learned at DU into jobs, travel and further academic work.
“Our nation and world look to your creativity, intellect and critical reasoning; your skills and knowledge; your compassion and leadership as you take on new challenges,” outgoing chancellor Rebecca Chopp told departing undergraduates at their ceremony. “You combine a path-breaking spirit with intellect, ethical judgment and a desire to seek solutions. Go now and enrich the world, and you will make your alma mater proud.”
Below, meet six members of the Class of 2019.
Dian Agustino (MA, international human rights)
Agustino, a native of Indonesia, came to DU’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies on a Fulbright scholarship to build on the human rights work she had done in the nonprofit world. In addition to working in Korbel’s Office of Enrollment, she completed an internship working with Palestinian refugees and volunteers for the American Red Cross in Denver, where she focuses on helping migrants and refugees find missing family members in their countries of origin. As part of her Fulbright scholarship, Agustino can spend the 18 months after graduation growing her skills through internships. Then it will be time to put her degree to work at home, tackling gender-based violence.
Read more of Dian’s story.
Elisabeth Bristol (BS, computer science)
Just looking at Elisabeth Bristol’s college resumé can be a bit exhausting. She completed a computer science degree and minors in music and math after a mere three years (with a near perfect 3.96 GPA). Then there’s the handful of jobs she has worked to finance college — professional seamstress, teaching assistant, consultant to a Los Angeles music dealer, sewing instructor — and the hours of time she spent commuting to and from her home in Aurora. And the professional symphony she played in. And the Christian youth ministry where she volunteered. And the DU Tango Club, of which she was president. Two months before Commencement, she had already secured and started her first post-grad job. In Western Union’s cybersecurity department, Bristol now holds the title of information security analyst, ensuring the right people have access to the right things.
Read more of Elisabeth’s story.
Lauren Collins (PhD, education)
While at DU, Collins has been much more than a student. She has been a staff member in the Daniels College of Business, managing outdoor education and international student acculturation. She has been an instructor, preparing students for study abroad. She has been a graduate assistant in the Center for Sustainability, operationalizing the DU food pantry and exploring carbon offsets. And she has served as a community-engaged fellow with DU’s Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning (CCESL), where she developed a photo voice project for the city and county of Denver. Her research looks at the impact of study abroad programs on host countries, noting that the third-party study abroad providers universities often employ to overcome such issues as risk management and capacity can be problematic. Collins hopes to share her interdisciplinary approach to research and education as she goes on to postdoctoral work at the University of Montana.
Read more of Lauren’s story.
Joaquin Gallegos (JD, law)
A member of the Jicarilla Apache and Pueblo of Santa Ana tribes, Gallegos came to DU’s Sturm College of Law to study Indian law and policy. During his time at DU, he participated in DU’s Tribal Wills Project, in which law students travel to American Indian reservations to help tribal members draft wills, medical powers of attorney and burial instructions. He also did an externship with Judge Jesse Furman, supporting the first-ever state appellate court that oversees cases involving the Indian Child Welfare Act, and worked as Sen. Mark Udall’s legal fellow on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “All of these experiences were meaningful because they were real,” he says. “It wasn’t just busy work — to be able to touch a real case, and contribute your ideas and outlook, and determine how you think it should turn out, and to learn from the clerks and the judges themselves was a rare look inside.”
Read more of Joaquin’s story.
Maddy Gawler (triple major in Spanish, geography and international studies)
Driven by a passion for travel and sustainability, Gawler participated in six official DU study abroad programs: interterm trips to Belize, South Africa, Japan and New Zealand, and a full semester each in Spain and Ecuador. Her interest in sustainability has focused on the emerging area of ecotourism, which involves responsible, conservation-supportive travel to natural areas. Last December, she received an Honors Grant and a Pioneer Leadership Program grant to do independent research in New Zealand on the topic. She finished her bachelor’s degree this spring and next year will complete a master’s degree in international development with a focus on sustainability and a certificate in global corporate social responsibility from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.
Read more of Maddy’s story.
Austin Johnson (BS, biology)
Growing up in Rye, Colorado, where the population hovers below 200 and the nearest hospital is a 30-minute drive away, Johnson saw the importance of access firsthand. When fevers pulled him away from high school athletic goals, he came to understand how poor health can cripple lives. As he shadowed local physicians, he saw the power of medicine. On campus, he was a member of the DU Emergency Medical Services Club, Pioneer Leadership Program, Honors Program, pre-health club and Health Promotion Team, among others. He’s also a registered EMT and volunteered at a free clinic as a care coordinator. Though he had acceptance letters from seven of the country’s top medical schools, Johnson chose Stanford, where he’ll matriculate in the fall.
Read more of Austin’s story.