CU Denver senior Vanessa Avitia, right, enjoys Senior Sendoff with her mom, Rose Avitia

Classes are over. Finals are finished. Seniors at the University of Colorado Denver are ready to kick back and celebrate.

On Thursday evening, they reveled in a well-deserved party at the annual Senior Sendoff. This year, the event was hosted by the Rock Bottom Brewery on the 16th Street Mall.

Graduates and their family and friends enjoyed food, beverages and music on the sunny Rock Bottom patio as well as inside the restaurant.

“I’m proud of myself because I worked very hard,” said Vanessa Avitia, who is graduating with a degree in Communications and Ethnic Studies. “I’m going to travel and then try to get a job with benefits.”

Avitia attended the Sendoff with her proud mother, Rose Avitia.

Jacklyn Maclennan, who is also getting a degree in Communications, attended the party with a friend. She has a couple internships lined up and then “I’m trying to get into small-market radio stations to see where they get me.”

Maclennan said they planned their afternoon around the Sendoff, which she learned about through university emails. “We’re really happy with it, with the food and everything.”

Some students volunteered to be filmed for a short thank-you video that will be shown before Saturday’s commencement. Students also received CU Denver Alumni stickers. The event was put on by the Office of Student Life and the Alumni Association.

Raul Cardenas, PhD, associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs, and Cathy Kaledo, (BS, 1992) board president of the CU Denver Alumni Association, congratulated the graduates.

“We are so proud of you and so thankful you came to our institution,” Cardenas said. “Enjoy it and live it up, but be sure to remember us. We want you to be part of our family forever.”

Kaledo reminded the students to stay connected to their alma mater, encouraging them to participate in the numerous Alumni Association committees and events.

Joe Halter, assistant director of Student Life and Student Affairs, said about 300 people, including family and friends, were expected at Thursday’s party downtown. He said the Senior Sendoff has previously been held on a Friday, but students suggested Thursday would be better because of all the family obligations the night before graduation.

“This is a chance for them to do something a little more laid back and not so formal,” Halter said of the Sendoff.

While it was fun and festive on Thursday evening, there is a threat of inclement weather for Saturday’s graduation. If there are any changes to the commencement schedule, information will be available on the website and the emergency phoneline 1-877-463-6070.

(Photo: CU Denver senior Vanessa Avitia, right, enjoys Senior Sendoff with her mom, Rose Avitia.)

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