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Prestigious past graduates to give May commencement address

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The voices of Colorado State University-Pueblo graduates have a more important voice than the graduates of the more prestigious universities, according to Joe Koncilja. Graduates will hear more of his opinion when he gives the commencement address, along with sister Frances Koncilja, this May.

Joe is a pueblo native who founded the Koncilja Law Firm in 1982, which later became Koncilja & Koncilja, P.C. when joined by his brother, Jim Koncilja.

Joe often lectures for Colorado Continuing Legal Education, is a founding member of the National College DUI Defense, and is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

Frances Koncilja was the first member of her family to graduate from college, attributing her work ethic, her compassion for the underdog and her willingness to engage in a good fight to her Italian and Slavic family.

Frances has been a trial lawyer in Denver since 1972.  She is a past president of the Colorado Bar Association and has served on a number of bar, judicial and civic boards and commissions, and was also one of the founding and charter members of the Colorado Women’s Bar.

“We want to show our graduates what our students have been able to accomplish, not only locally, but statewide and nation wide,” said Cora Zaletel, who is the executive director of external affairs at CSU-Pueblo.

Zaletel takes suggestions throughout the year, and submits them to the university president, who makes the decision on who will give the commencement address.

“We have never had co-presenters before, but we are excited at the prospect of this brother-sister duo,” Zaletel said.

“I intend to convey how important an egalitarian institution such as CSU-P is,” said Joe. “I call it that because it was never designed to cater to the elite, but to cater to the people who stridently wanted an education, who sometimes fit the image of the non traditional student.”

Joe believes CSU-Pueblo graduates, including himself and his sister, have a unique perspective on life, which is not driven by avarice or greed, as opposed to the prestigious universities who have created an environment of elitism.

“I think you understand civil rights better if your family has been the brunt of discrimination,” said Joe. “You understand a woman’s right to choose if you, or some member of your family, has faced the decision of being an unwed mother”.

“Therefore I believe the graduates of CSU-P have tremendous responsibilities and have the tools to be the voices of reason and the voices people should listen to,” Joe said.

With this tremendous responsibility, Joe said, they have the ability to do whatever they want. They can rise to any potential that is available to them.