Outdoor photographer to give CMC commencement speech | SteamboatToday.com

Outdoor photographer to give CMC commencement speech

College will award 122 degrees in Saturday ceremony

Sean Kerrick Sullivan, a CMC alumnus, releases a Bonneville Cutthroat trout, caught fly fishing, into Pyramid Lake in Nevada. Sullivan graduated from CMC in 2006 with an associate's degree, later earned a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Utah and went on to become a professional outdoor photographer. He is the commencement speaker for CMC's graduation Saturday.

— Avid outdoor photographer Sean Kerrick Sullivan remembers fondly the time he spent in Steamboat Springs more than a decade ago earning his associate's degree from Colorado Mountain College.

And he recalls the first photograph he ever sold commercially, a shot of a friend jumping off King Solomon Falls, which was picked up by Big Agnes.

The company thanked Sullivan for the photo he sent them by giving him some money and a Big Agnes tent, and "something kind of clicked right then and there," he said.

"A lot of times the hardest part of any journey is those first couple of steps," said Sullivan, who graduated from CMC in 2006 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the University of Utah.

In the decade since leaving CMC, Sullivan has gone on to become an accomplished outdoor photographer whose shots of snowboard tricks, fishing holes and wildlife have impressed dozens of clients including Warren Miller Entertainment, ESPN, Transworld Snowboarding and Orvis.

"It's just all about recognizing your passion and going for it," Sullivan said.

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Sullivan, who now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, returns to his alma mater this week as the commencement speaker for CMC's graduation, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 7 at The Steamboat Grand, 2300 Mount Werner Circle.

Sullivan said this week he is fond of the time he spent at CMC and in Steamboat Springs.

"CMC in Steamboat has one of the best setups of any community college in the country," he said. "The town is fantastic, the resort is world class and the college is one of a kind."

Sullivan said that although he didn't immediately realize the life of a professional photographer, his passion for travel and photography led him there.

"I was very blessed in that my mother worked for United Airlines since before I was born. The travel bug was bred into me, and I think the greatest parts of travel is the experience and then sharing that experience," Sullivan said. "Photography is a powerful communication tool, and I found that photography really helped me to capture ideas and emotions I couldn't convey properly with words."

Following Sullivan's speech Saturday, CMC leaders will award 122 degrees and a handful of certificates to students, including 28 bachelor's degrees.

Among the graduates are the campus's first two bachelor of applied science graduates, Andrew Schmidt and Taylor McQueeny.

Schmidt, a nontraditional student who is a married father, plans to use the skills he picked up while earning his degree to help his family's business, Off 7th Studio in downtown Steamboat.

McQueeny, who is originally from Boulder, transferred to the bachelor’s of applied science program after pursuing an applied science associate degree in ski and snowboard business. He plans to use the degree while following his dream of opening an art gallery or art collective.

Saturday's ceremony is expected to last until noon, and a reception will immediately follow at the Neas Family Dining Center at CMC's Academic Center building.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow