Joseph Rios

December 04, 2020

University News

VIDEO: Meet MSU Denver’s 100,000th graduate

The University marks the milestone at its virtual Commencement Friday. PLUS: MSU Denver's first graduate reminisces on the school's early days and provides words of wisdom for the Class of 2020.

Joseph Rios

December 04, 2020


Two years after it opened its doors in 1965, Metropolitan State College of Denver reached an important milestone in its history when it hosted its first Commencement ceremony.

By the time 1969 came around, the school had awarded more than 150 associate degrees before it awarded its first 60 baccalaureate degrees at a ceremony June 1 of that year.

Since those ceremonies, thousands of other students from diverse backgrounds have chosen to receive their education from what is now Metropolitan State University of Denver. On Friday, the University will celebrate another important milestone: its 100,000th graduate.

The tally stood at 99,401 graduates after the spring 2020 Commencement, said Brandi Rideout, MSU Denver director of alumni relations. When the University examined the list of fall 2020 graduates, No. 599 landed on Branden Ingersoll.

RED caught up with Ingersoll, who is 24, from Brighton and a graduate of Eagle Ridge Academy, to learn about his journey to MSU Denver, his future, what the University means to him and more.

When did you decide to apply to MSU Denver? What influenced your decision?

I decided to go to Front Range Community College in 2015 to earn my associate degree. At Front Range, I had several teachers who told me that lots of students transferred to (MSU Denver) and did well.

I actually even remember the teacher who influenced my decision to go to MSU Denver. It was Chelsea Stow (Ph.D.) from Front Range. I transferred in January 2018.

What is your degree in, and what do you plan on doing after graduation?

My major is communications with a concentration in rhetoric, ethics and social justice; I minored in psychology.

I sent out three or four applications for graduate schools here in Colorado. All of the help I’ve received from my teachers has inspired me to be a teacher, but ideally I’ll earn my Ph.D. first. I’d like to work at MSU Denver or Front Range Community College to give back to the communities that inspired me.

Branden Ingersoll, who transferred to MSU Denver from Front Range Community College in 2015, is the University’s 100,000th graduate. Photo by Alyson McClaran.

So MSU Denver exceeded your expectations?

I didn’t have many expectations at first. I heard negative comments about state schools because there’s not as much funding. I was told by peers that (MSU Denver is) not as good as the University of Colorado Boulder and other schools. I was unsure. But I did know that pursuing communications was important to me.

When I jumped in, I was surprised. Not only is there a diverse student body (at MSU Denver), but it’s really interesting to dive into critical analysis when you have that diversity.

I also received such hands-on help from my teachers, especially when I showed interest in furthering my education. My professors spent hours with me and helped me submit papers to academic and communication conferences like the National Communication Association, where I secured top paper in the ethics division. That was important to me.

In the end, the level of education I got here was unparalleled. I was unsure at first and happily surprised during my time here. MSU Denver definitely surpassed my expectations.

Which mentors or professors helped you achieve your goals?

John Rief (Ph.D.) in the Department of Communication Studies was an absolute powerhouse. I can’t imagine my education without him.

He spent countless hours helping me and helped me develop a paper for his class. When I was submitting papers to national conferences and told him I wanted to pursue a graduate degree, he did word-by-word analysis with me, gave me countless resources and suggestions and was always available.

Karen Lollar (Ph.D.) in the Department of Communication Studies was the first person to give me feedback about my writing and was the first person to get me to submit papers to national conferences.

What did you think when MSU Denver said you were the 100,000th graduate?

Honestly, I was baffled. I thought it was astounding for the school, but the funny thing is, my brother is graduating, and he is the 100,001st graduate. It’s a very exciting moment. I saw an email saying congratulations about being the 100,000th graduate, and I thought it was just something the school sends to everyone.

It’s cool to be part of the University’s history.

What has it been like wrapping up college during the pandemic?

I’m fortunate to say the pandemic didn’t overtly affect my economic position. But with that said, I feel more thankful that I had my college experience. I felt comfortable with online learning. My teachers are astronomically awesome – they went above and beyond to make sure the content was engaging, and I feel like I got a lot out of these last two semesters.

What will you remember most about your time at MSU Denver?

Relationships – the relationships I built with my professors, most notably Dr. Rief. I think I will also remember when I knew what I wanted to do and someone took the time to invest in me when they didn’t have to. They did that not only for me but for the world. That is what inspired me to be a teacher.

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