This Graduation Ceremony Honors Another Kind Of Accomplishment: Sober Living

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Photo: Students at University of Colorado Boulder (AP Photo)
Students walk to and from classes on the campus of the University of Colorado, in Boulder, Colo.

Updated 10:21 a.m. | University of Colorado Boulder hosts a handful of special graduation ceremonies for students who are black, Latino or LGBT. This commencement season, the university celebrated another group: sober students.

Nine CU graduates celebrated their sober lifestyle at the commencement ceremony over the weekend. In attendance to support his peers was 22-year-old Jake Fossum. He transferred to Boulder from Virginia Tech last August, leaving behind a rocky history of alcoholism, prescription drug abuse, DUIs and suspensions.

"I had all these expectations that college was supposed to be the best years of life," Fossum said. Instead, "I felt very isolated. I started drinking by myself, to take care of the loneliness."

The Collegiate Recovery Center at CU Boulder drew Fossum to the school and helped him stay sober. Directed by Daniel Conroy, the center offers peer support groups, mentors and a 16-bed sober dorm. Fossum and Conroy talked to Colorado Matters about the realities of being a young person recovering from addiction, and the struggles of recovery at a university that has the reputation as "party school."

Editor's Note: This story was corrected to reflect that Jake Fossum attended the sober commencement ceremony, but did not graduate in it.