Spring 2012 commencement

The University of Colorado is expecting about 20,000 attendees at Friday's spring graduation ceremony, which begins at 8:30 a.m. at Folsom Field, 2400 Colorado Ave., on the CU-Boulder campus.

Stadium gates will open at 7 a.m., and the university recommends arriving early to avoid traffic as construction continues on Broadway in Boulder -- which borders the west side of campus. Parking will be available off of Regent Drive.

The ceremony will be held at Folsom, regardless of rain.

Visit commencement.colorado.edu for more information.

U niversity of Colorado student Brendan Culverwell knew mathematics was a safe choice for his undergraduate degree.

His father and grandfather were both in finance, so it was no surprise that Culverwell excelled in math.

"Math was the easy choice, since I didn't really know what I wanted to do at the time," Culverwell said.

There was only one problem.

"One day I realized I didn't love math so I decided to go into the medical field," he said.

Now, two years after graduating with his bachelor's degree, Culverwell is one of seven students slated to receive a pre-medical post-baccalaureate certificate.

Culverwell is among the first cohort to complete CU's yearlong program, which provides academic support and advising for students who have changed course and decided to pursue a career in the medical field.


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Barbara Russell, the program manager, said the program began with 10 students in June, then two dropped out due to the program's difficulty and one other switched to a different field of study at CU.

"These students have experienced three hard semesters of science courses," Russell said. "This is not an easy certificate."

Students in the program take required medical school courses in the College of Arts and Sciences, Russell said. Pre-med advisers do work with the students, but Russell said they get most support from peers.

Culverwell said he believes the students had an advantage being part of the program's first class.

"I think because it was the first year, everyone had extra motivation to make it work," Culverwell said. "We all have a lot invested in this, so we all really put everything we had into succeeding."

The students will receive their certificates tonight during a special ceremony at CU before beginning, what Russell called, their "glide year."

"That's where they take the MCAT and any other test they need, apply to graduate schools, gain additional experience and basically make themselves look like good candidates to the highly competitive schools they'll be applying to," Russell said.

Culverwell said his plan is to spend the next two months studying full time for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) before filling out applications for medical school.

"I want to be a doctor, I'm just not sure what kind yet," Culverwell said. "This is just another step in the right direction for me."

Other students in the program are hoping to get into dental school, veterinary school and programs for physician's assistants and physical therapy, Russell said.

After a successful first year, the program has admitted 20 new students to begin in June.