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University of Denver grads receive $500 gifts at commencement ceremony

Businessman and philanthropist Pat Hamill surprised graduates with the gifts Saturday.

DENVER — University of Denver graduates received a pleasant surprise Saturday when speaker Pat Hamill gave each of them a gift of $500.

Hamill is the chairman and CEO of Oakwood Homes, a Berkshire Hathaway company. He shared with the graduates the importance of philanthropy, the joy of giving and the impact of paying it forward. 

“Keep it if you really need it," Hamill said. "Give it to someone who really needs it if you don’t. Or combine it with your friends and do something together. Keep it real and do something that matters for someone who needs it.”

Credit: University of Denver
Pat Hamill

The graduates stood, applauded and cheered when Hamill made the announcement. DU Chancellor Jeremy Haefner thanked Hamill for his gift and reinforced his message. 

“I hope your minds are spinning on what good each of you can do to 'pay it forward'—in ways big and small—that improve communities,” Haefner said. “Each act toward serving the public good compounding on itself, gaining momentum and changing lives. And it can all start today.”  

Hamill has donated his time and resources to the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver and the Early Childhood Commission, according to a release. In 1997, he launched BuildStrong Education, an Oakwood Homes Foundation, with a focus on educational programs and initiatives. He is also the founder of the STEAD School and the Colorado Homebuilding Academy.

More than 1,150 undergraduate students attended the ceremony Saturday. 


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