By Shawn Chitnis
BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– Bronze medalist Arielle Gold gave the commencement address on Friday to the online school she graduated from while training to become an Olympic snowboarder.
“I was traveling a ton for snowboarding and just didn’t really have the time to be taking in person classes,” she said. “Where we can bring our school wherever we travel, pretty much wherever we travel because we’re traveling almost year-round.”
Gold graduated from the Destinations Career Academy of Colorado in 2014 and would later go on to win the Bronze medal in the Women’s Halfpipe at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
She is now a sophomore at the University of Colorado, Boulder studying Psychology. She hopes to get master’s degree in Equine Science.
“It’s just really important to always focus on pursuing your dreams even if it means making some sacrifices,” she said. “There may be times when it gets difficult but online school obviously allowed me to pursue mine and I hope that they can do the same.”
Destinations Career Academy of Colorado is an online career technical education program accredited by the Colorado Community College System. It offers classes for grades six to 12 and is tuition free.
“Arielle is a great example of someone who can thrive here,” said Teri Cady, Head of School. “By choosing a school like Destinations Career Academy they can have this unique program even if the local school doesn’t have it.”
Cady says online classes can still have a social component like traditional schools because students interact with teachers and other students with cameras and microphones. She says the format is attracting more students like Gold but also institutions that see the value in offering it in some form.
“More and more students are going toward online whether it’s in a hybrid or a full time model,” said Cady. “Many universities are going in that direction, it’s a great skill and place for a student to go to school.”
Gold hopes the graduating class takes away from her story that perseverance is key. It is a lesson she developed after competing in two Winter Games.
“I’m almost retired from snowboarding after this past season before this Olympics,” she explained. “Just being able to come back and having one of the best seasons I’ve ever had.”
That lesson has universal appeal she says and is one she looks to as she prepares for the rest of her academic career and continues to compete in snowboarding.
“A great learning experience for me and I hope to continue to carry that into my future endeavors,” Gold said.