Entire University Of Denver Class Of 2023 Surprised With $500 Gifts At Graduation

By Shawn Patrick on June 14, 2023
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

This past weekend, Pat Hamill, CEO of Oakwood Homes, surprised graduates at the University of Denver’s commencement ceremony with an unexpected announcement. As a graduation gift, each new grad was to receive $500 from Hamill, who encouraged them to pay it forward.

Hamill, also a University of Denver alumnus, told the crowd, “Keep it if you really need it. Give it to someone who needs it if you don’t. Or combine it with your friends and do something together.” After a brief pause, the attendees gave Hamill a standing ovation.

The grads were given the cash alongside their diplomas along with a personal letter from Hamill.

The gesture left an impression on the graduates, including Sophia Zulich, who shares that she appreciates the message of giving. Her fellow graduate, T’Phani Perley, says she is touched by the pay-it-forward sentiment and plans to donate half of her gift to her former high school’s summer program.

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