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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Fitness guru to speak at graduation

    Fitness guru to speak at graduation

    Three years ago, it was the dean of the James E. Rogers College of Law. The year before that, it was the U.S. surgeon general.

    But graduates at the fall commencement Dec. 16 will hear from a different kind of speaker: TV fitness guru Denise Austin.

    Austin, a member of the President’s Council on Fitness and Sports, graduated from the UA in 1979 with a degree in exercise physiology.

    “”It was the most fun of my whole life,”” Austin said of her time here.

    About 2,000 students are set to graduate this semester, and a crowd of more than 8,000 is expected to attend the ceremony at McKale Center, said Jim Drnek, associate dean of students.

    “”It’ll be a full house,”” he said.

    Drnek said the numbers are comparable to those for previous fall commencements.

    Like previous years, Drnek said a group of about 25 people planned the ceremony, meet often to discuss plans for the current semester.

    Rebecca Ruiz, a public health administration coordinator, said the group wastes no time in preparing and making arrangements.

    “”We give ourselves pretty much a month off,”” Ruiz said, describing the period immediately following a ceremony when the group does not meet.

    The job of choosing a commencement speaker is the responsibility of the university president, and Austin was contacted by President Robert Shelton in September to take the podium.

    Austin said she is excited to return to Arizona to see how the campus has grown. In particular, she said she wants to see the Mary Roby Gymnastics Center because she competed as a gymnast while she attended the UA.

    Austin advises graduates to find a place for themselves in the world and to pursue their goals with self-confidence and strength.

    “”Find your niche,”” Austin said. “”It’s worth it to give it what you got.””

    The commencement ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m., but graduating students who take part in the procession are asked to arrive at Bear Down Gym no later than 8:30 a.m.

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