PUEBLO, Colo. -- 11Alive's Jeff Hullinger spoke before a crowd of more than 8,000 on Saturday as Colorado State University-Pueblo held commencement for the class of 2017.

On a sunny day at the Colorado State Fairgrounds, Hullinger dedicated his speech to the memory of former southern Colorado congressman Ray Kogovsek, who died just 6 days before. He spoke of gratitude, the power of the word and how the university gave him the opportunity to pursue a career in broadcast media. Hullinger graduated from the university in 1980.

The Colorado State University - Pueblo's department of mass communications and new media also named Hullinger the alum of the year for 2017-2018.

"Don't ever stop dreaming, because sometimes even your wildest of dreams can come true," he said, "I am living proof of that."