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Trent Tucker, wearing a cap and gown, speaks at a podium.

Former Gopher and NBA basketball star Trent Tucker was the keynote speaker at this year's College of Continuing Education commencement ceremony. Tucker is a 2005 CCE graduate.

CCE honors diverse group of graduates

By Christie Vogt

May 8, 2007

With aspirations of enhancing their personal and professional lives, thousands of adults each year choose the U's College of Continuing Education (CCE). CCE offers self-designed, interdisciplinary degrees, in which students draw on courses from throughout the many colleges of the U's Twin Cities campus.

On May 5, approximately 300 students graduated with bachelor's degrees from the college, and they carry with them a variety of ambitions.

Three of this year's graduates--Gao Vang, Sandra Dolinksi, and Keith Clepper--are strong representatives of the influence CCE and its students have on the greater community.

Gao Vang designed her own degree that concentrates on family social science, public health, and sociology. She plans to work for a social service agency and also wants to help bridge the gap between Hmong parents and their first-generation American children, who, according to Vang, feel pressure to be both the perfect Hmong child and a "cool" American child.

CCE allows for a broad community of adult learners to further their education on both a credit and noncredit basis. Every year, the college serves nearly 4,000 adults who are working toward degrees or certificates, or are accessing the U's credit evening, distance, or summer courses.

Sandra Dolinski, who graduated with a degree in life sciences, public health, and the history of medicine, plans to study intellectual property law in graduate school. Dolinksi wants to work in the medical device industry, focusing on making devices safe and effective for future patients.

Keith Clepper received his degree in addiction studies, psychology, and coaching studies. He hopes to earn certification as a coach and psychologist. Clepper enrolled in CCE because he was attracted by the flexibility of creating his own degree. His long-term goal is to build a relapse prevention program incorporating alternative therapies and then to teach addiction studies at the University.

The keynote speaker at the commencement ceremony was former Gopher and NBA basketball player Trent Tucker, a 2005 CCE graduate. Tucker is a KFAN radio commentator and also works with Minnesota inner-city youth through the Trent Tucker Non-Profit Organization.

CCE allows for a broad community of adult learners to further their education on both a credit and noncredit basis. Every year, the college serves nearly 4,000 adults who are working toward degrees or certificates, or are accessing the U's credit evening, distance, or summer courses.

An additional 6,000 adults who are not seeking academic credit utilize CCE's short courses, seminars, workshops, retreats, and events.

The college also collaborates with organizations throughout the state to tailor public professional development offerings to the needs of their workforces. For instance, the college worked with the state of Minnesota to develop the Emerging Leaders Institute--a series of training seminars designed to help selected state employees transition into managerial positions that will be vacated by retiring baby boomers. Over half of Minnesota's state managers will become eligible for retirement in less than a decade; the Emerging Leaders Institute is helping the state prepare to fill that gap.

Related reading:
NBA star earns U degree after a 23-year hiatus