Fall Commencement ceremonies Dec. 14-15

Grads hold up diplomas

Colorado State University expects to confer degrees on more than 2,100 graduates during Fall 2018 commencement ceremonies Dec. 14-15.

College ceremonies and the ROTC commissioning will recognize 1,508 undergraduate and 620 graduate students, and five Army ROTC commissionees. Fifteen undergraduates are candidates for distinction as summa cum laude, 33 magna cum laude and 59 cum laude.

The ceremonies will be held in Moby Arena and the Lory Student Center. An interactive map for locations and parking is available at maps.colostate.edu. Guest entrance maps for the LSC and Moby Arena, along with Moby Arena policies, can be found on CSU’s commencement website. Commencement ceremonies, with the exception of the ROTC commissioning and the honors recognition, will be webcast live.

Speakers to share insights with graduates

Colonel Boccardi headshotColonel Thomas D. Boccardi
Army ROTC Commissioning

Colonel Thomas Boccardi is a native of Colorado Springs and the son of a career Army pilot. After serving 24 months enlisted, he was commissioned as an Infantry Officer through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Colorado State University in 1989. He has served in multiple command and staff assignments, which include Special Operations over the last 30 years.

As a lieutenant, he served as a platoon leader, mortar platoon leader, and company executive officer in the  25th Infantry Division. Following the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, he was assigned to 1st Armored Division where he served as a brigade and battalion assistant operations officer and company commander and deployed to Bosnia in support of Operation Joint Endeavor.

Upon graduation from the Command and General Staff College, Boccardi was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division where he served as a Battalion Operations and Executive Officer and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also was selected as the Brigade Operations, Brigade Executive Officer, Battalion Command of 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division and deployed in support of the Iraq Surge for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Boccardi’s final assignment was at the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command where he served as the director, Combined Command Center, executive officer to the Combatant Commander and director, Commander’s Action Group.

Boccardi’s education includes a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Colorado State University, and a master’s of Military Arts and Sciences from the Command and General Staff College. He is a graduate of the Joint & Combined Warfighting School and was a 2011 Senior Service College Fellow at Yale University.

Colorado State Representative Jeni Arndt
College of Agricultural Sciences

Jeni Arndt headshotJeni Arndt is the State Representative from House District 53, which includes the western half of Fort Collins. Arndt has been a congressional intern, ESL teacher, Peace Corps volunteer, special education teacher, middle school principal, school board member, International Baccalaureate coordinator, university faculty member and department head.  She holds a Ph.D. in literacy and language from Purdue University, master’s degrees from the University of Colorado and Purdue and an undergraduate degree from Colorado College. She’s halfway through an MBA at Colorado State University. She is a district and precinct native.

During the legislative session, Arndt serves as chair of the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources committee and on the Business and Labor committee. She also serves year-round on the Statutory Revision Commission, the Colorado Commission of Higher Education, and is Chair of the Water Resource Review Committee. She is passionate about her work with the National Institute of Civil Discourse.

Arndt has been married for 29 years to Channing. They have three children, Abby, Henry and Mason.

Shelly Swanback headshotShelly Swanback
College of Business

Shelly Swanback is the Group Operating Officer for Accenture Digital, an organization she played an instrumental role in creating in 2014. In this role, Swanback leads Accenture Digital’s growth initiatives and operations and has helped create an organization that is distinct yet also connected with all of Accenture’s businesses.

Swanback enjoys rolling up her sleeves and actively participating in client, market and internal activities. She takes a people-first approach, empowering employees to innovate, take risks and be a part of important business decisions, which helped Accenture to be an inspiring home for its digital employees around the globe and stimulated Accenture’s revenue for digital-related services to become $13.5 billion.

Swanback works with organizations across industries to help them spot disruption and create new value through new operating models, new ways of working and digital technologies. She is also an advocate for women in STEM and collaborative and diverse work environments. She enjoys sharing her insights and experiences at events such as Grace Hopper, SXSW, Bloomberg Next, and MWC Americas.

Prior to her group operating officer role, Swanback was Accenture’s Technology area lead for North America responsible for sales, solution design and delivery of systems integration and application outsourcing services. She also previously served as a managing director in Communications, Media & Technology North America where she managed a portfolio of clients, developed new clients and managed the P&L. Additionally, she was the managing director for Accenture’s Denver office.

Melissa Pappas
College of Health and Human Sciences

Melissa Pappas headshotMelissa Pappas is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of ATHENA Consulting, an award-winning certified Woman Business Enterprise, in Maryland.  She started ATHENA in 2002 in her basement, and today employs more than 350 in the mid-Atlantic. Pappas had a distinguished career working with state welfare programs to help improve service delivery, enhance customer service, and increase accuracy.  Today, her company provides long-term professionals to state government agencies to work with the community’s most vulnerable citizens.

Prior to starting ATHENA, Melissa spent nine years as a senior executive for government operations at MAXIMUS, a consulting company that worked with state and local government human service programs.  She worked in nearly every state, owing her professional success to knowing all the state capitols in a third-grade school competition.  Previously, Pappas worked with state cabinet secretaries of human services, advocating on national welfare policy for the American Public Welfare Association in Washington, D.C.

Pappas is very involved in serving her community, helping others, and is a lifelong learner.  She is the president of the board of trustees of the Treatment and Learning Centers, an organization that serves children and adults with special needs, and is currently a member of the CSU College of Health and Human Sciences’ Executive Leadership Council.  Since 2017, she has funded a scholarship in her parents’ names to assist other first-generation college students in the social work department. She previously served on the boards of Leadership Montgomery, the Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County, and the Family Services Agency.

Pappas is a 1985 graduate of Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in social work.  In 1988, she obtained a master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago.  Pappas is currently enrolled in a three-year entrepreneurial master’s program designed to coach entrepreneurs on their journey to be better business owners.

She is the proud mother of three sons, two of whom are currently students at CSU.

Dana Hughes headshot

Dana Hughes
College of Liberal Arts

Dana Hughes graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts from Colorado State University in 1998. She is the United Nations Refugee Agency’s Senior Regional Communications Officer for the East, Horn and Great Lakes Region of Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya.  Recently she co-organized and co-hosted TedxKakumaCamp, the first ever TEDx event in a refugee camp.

Prior to joining UNHCR, Hughes worked at ABC News for nearly a decade. She began her career as an investigative producer, winning a Gracie Allen Award for her reporting in Cancun, Mexico, exposing the underbelly of the resort city. She was part of ABC’s Investigative Unit recognized with a Peabody Award in 2006 for an investigation into corruption in the U.S. government, leading to the resignation of Congressman Mark Foley, and an Edward R. Murrow Award in reporting on prescription drug errors.

In 2007, Hughes moved to Kenya where she covered sub-Saharan Africa for ABC for nearly five years. She reported from the village of President Barack Obama’s father, winning an Emmy award in 2009 for coverage of President Obama’s inauguration. Hughes also reported from South Sudan during the country’s historic independence and covered the 2011 Somalia famine.

Following her assignment in Africa, Hughes was ABC’s digital reporter covering foreign affairs, focusing on the State Department where she traveled with former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

Hughes graduated with a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in 2005. She is a former Fulbright Fellow and has attended the London School of Economics and Politics as a Hansard Scholar, working in the British House of Commons.

She has one daughter, Nashipai, meaning “happiness” in Masaai, and is passionate about refugees, social justice and hip-hop. Hailing from Fort Collins, with a mother who’s worked at CSU for over 30 years, Hughes grew up on the university’s campus and is proud to be CSU Ram.

Read more about Hughes here.

Bryan Dik headshotBryan Dik
College of Natural Sciences

Bryan Dik is a professor and associate chair of the Department of Psychology at Colorado State University. He also is co-founder and chief science officer of jobZology, a software and consulting company that uses psychological assessment to help students and job-seekers identify and explore career opportunities predicted to fit them well.

Dik is the author of Redeeming Work (forthcoming) as well as five other books, including Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace and Make Your Job a Calling: How the Psychology of Vocation Can Change Your Life at Work. His research explores perceptions of work as a calling; meaning, purpose, religion, and spirituality in career decision-making and planning; and career development interventions. He has published extensively on these topics and was recognized with the 2017 John Holland Award for Outstanding Achievement in Career or Personality Research and the 2018 Applied Psychology of Religion and Spirituality Award, both from divisions of the American Psychological Association.

Dik lives with his wife Amy and their four sons (ages 7 to 14) in Fort Collins.

Keith Meyer
Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering

Keith Meyer is a Colorado native and has lived in the Fort Collins area for over 29 years.  He is a proud graduate of the civil engineering program at Colorado State University and has over 25 years of engineering and management experience working in both the public and private sectors. For the past 13 years, he has owned Ditesco, a Fort Collins-based engineering, program, project and construction management services firm. Meyer has managed well over $400 million in capital improvements throughout Colorado. His work includes water and wastewater treatment, complex utility infrastructure, transportation, commercial buildings and dams. Notable projects on Meyer’s resume include the MAX Bus Rapid Transit System, the new Larimer Humane Society campus, the Shields/Elizabeth underpass and CSU’s International Campus in Todos Santos, Mexico.

Meyer is a life member of the CSU Alumni Association, a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Water Environment Federation, Construction Management Association of America, and American Water Works Association.  In 2017, he was awarded the “Civil Engineering Entrepreneur of the Year” award by ASCE.

Meyer, his wife Colleen, also a CSU graduate, and their teenage daughter enjoy attending Ram athletic events, traveling and supporting a variety of northern Colorado nonprofit organizations.


Friday, Dec. 14

10 a.m., Army ROTC Commissioning, LSC North Ballroom
1 p.m., University Honors Recognition Ceremony, LSC Ballroom
3 p.m., Graduate School, Moby Arena
6 p.m., College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, LSC Ballroom
7 p.m., College of Natural Sciences, Moby Arena

Saturday, Dec. 15

8 a.m., Warner College of Natural Resources, Moby Arena
11:30 a.m., College of Business, Moby Arena
12:30 p.m., College of Agricultural Sciences, LSC Ballroom
3 p.m., College of Liberal Arts, Moby Arena
4 p.m., Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, LSC Ballroom
7 p.m., College of Health and Human Sciences, Moby Arena