Alumni Board

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Angelique Diaz. Name: Tabitha Kalin Scholar Year: 2014 Hometown: Colorado Springs College, Major(s)  and Graduation Year(s): Colorado School of Mines, B.S. Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, May 2018; M.S. Engineering and Technology Management, December 2018 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I am still not sure what the future holds for me as I approach graduation. I hope to complete my master's in engineering and technology management after I complete my engineering degree. The future after that is very open. As I have continued to explore the world and had internship opportunities, the list of things I would like to do and careers I am interested in pursuing continues to grow. Currently I am very interested in energy and genetic engineering. I would love to work in disease and vaccine development. I am also interested in working in alternative fuels and energy sources.  Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. I am involved in biochemical research on campus, working with developing optical nanosensors for the use of medical diagnosis and improved efficiency. Outside of the classroom and lab, I have been fortunate enough to join several organizations across the campus. I have joined the Sigma Kappa Sorority, Kappa Kappa Psi service fraternity and Tau Beta Pi engineering honor fraternity. I have also joined the Society of Woman Engineers and the Colorado School of Mines Marching Band. I have been very fortunate enough to continue my passion for service and music in my extracurricular activities as I pursue a degree in STEM. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. My most important mentor and influence in my life has been my father. My father has always been my go-to when I needed advice or guidance on a direction, especially as I have started college and moved for internships. He has been very supportive and even ventured to Alaska to help me move. When you lose an exhaust pipe in the middle of the Yukon Territory, the real engineer comes out  and, somehow, we made it to Anchorage. My father has also helped me get involved in groups and activities that challenge me and help me grow, and I would not be the person I am today without him. What's the best advice you've ever received? The best advice I ever received was to “Say yes more than no, because no experience can hurt you; it can only teach you.” Because of this, I can now say I have climbed a mountain in a blizzard and moved 3,000 miles away for an internship. As a very busy person, it is easy to fall into the trap of not trying new things or not rearranging your schedule because you think you have too much to do. However, the best moments are spontaneous and the moments that push you out of your comfort zone. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? If I could have dinner with someone from history, I would want to have dinner with the Gene Kranz, the mission control director the Apollo XIII mission, which was the the infamous “Houston, we have a problem” mission. As the director, Kranz, made it very clear that “Failure was not an option.” I would want to talk to Kranz and get a sense of what character he had and the determination that brought the Apollo XIII crew back to Earth safely....

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Angelique Diaz. Name: Noel Lenski Scholar Year: 1984 Hometown: Littleton College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Colorado College, B.A. in Classics 1989; Princeton, M.A. 1992, Ph.D. 1995 Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I have been in classics and ancient history since I was an undergraduate at Colorado College. I went immediately to graduate school and then got my first teaching job at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1995. After 20 great years at CU, I joined the faculty of Yale in 2015. My profession is wonderful. I get to work with motivated and clever young people and to teach them that they are not so different from the very old people I study. Our technologies allow us to realize more of our ambitions, but we humans are fundamentally the same across time and cultures. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Being a Boettcher Scholar has been very important to my identity. Once I learned I had received this honor, I parked my ambitions to study out of state and am glad I did. Colorado is an outstanding state in which to study, and Colorado College offered me a first-rate education. Having lived in many places in America and abroad, I can say from experience that Coloradans are special people. Our environment, with its beauties and challenges, invites us to achieve amazing things and to grow and develop as whole, free people. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. My first ambition is to be a good father and husband. I love the time I have with my family. I’m an avid cyclist (road, mountain, cyclocross), going back to my youth. I ski when I can, especially cross-country, and love all sports. I’m also a carpenter, everything from furniture to home renovation. In addition, there are many aspects of my profession not directly attached to my job that keep me busy – I edit the Journal of Late Antiquity and work on a number of local, national and international organizations for the promotion of classics and the ancient world. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? Follow your dreams, and work hard. A career in the humanities is not easy to manage in today’s environment. Parents, friends, the whole world are pushing you to think “practically,” but if you love humanities, there is room for you, provided you are dedicated and have passion. Treat your studies like a profession. Already as you get to your junior year, begin devoting your time and energy to the humanities like your engineering friends do to their degrees. Work outside the curriculum, learn new languages, travel, read broadly. Classics (or English, or Japanese) is every bit as demanding as engineering if you take it seriously. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I’d love to have dinner with Constantine the Great – the first Roman emperor publicly to convert to Christianity, and a big part of the reason why the West took many of the directions it did. He was a bundle of contradictions: a brilliant military strategist who by the end of his life wanted to be a priest; a convert to Christianity who filled his new capital with images of himself as a pagan sun god; a preacher of Christly virtues who managed to have his wife and son executed. How would he explain all that? I’d come armed....

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Francis Commercon Scholar Year: 2014 Hometown: Highlands Ranch College, Major(s)  and Graduation Year(s): Colorado State University, double majoring: Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology (College of Natural Resources) and Biological Sciences (College of Natural Sciences), minoring in Chinese; graduating December 2018 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? Our society must find a balance between development and ecological sustainability. Around the world, especially in developing countries, animals’ ranges are shrinking at alarming rates due to habitat destruction and over-hunting. I aspire to work as a conservation biologist in a tropical developing country, researching appropriate tools for conservation of biodiversity, educating other biologists and reaching out to local communities. The approach must involve a major role as an activist and community organizer, as peer-reviewed papers cannot solve problems alone. I aspire to make conservation projects community-centered and locally driven for the benefit of the local people.  Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. I have been passionate about birds for many years. During my freshman year a friend and I founded CSU Field Ornithologists, a birdwatching club that shares a passion for birding and avian ecology at Colorado State University. We organize at least two birding trips a month to a variety of local and distant destinations and we invite researchers to give talks about new developments in ornithology and bird conservation at our monthly meetings. Being co-president of this club gives me many opportunities to pursue my passion for birds as well as learn skills in leadership. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. One of my most important mentors is Meredith McBurney, the bird bander for the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. Since I was 13, Meredith helped me develop a more scientific interest in birds. She taught me how to handle birds caught in mist nets and, recently, how to band and measure the birds. And through this, she helped me learn the confidence, patience and persistence so essential for success. Bird banders assume responsibility for the safety of birds caught for scientific and educational purposes. Meredith carefully invested trust in me in a way that forced me to learn responsibility. What's the best advice you've ever received? A friend and classmate on my semester abroad in China last fall told me, “do not fear failure but rather envision success.” At the time I put incredible pressure on myself to succeed in a particularly daunting project. My fear of failure made me anxious and unhappy. When, at my friend’s advice, I tried to think only about what success might look like, I found myself moving toward a goal in a positive way rather than fleeing from monstrous consequences. I was better able to enjoy the process itself. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? I would like to meet John James Audubon, the young Frenchman who immigrated to America to become one of this nation’s greatest early naturalists and painters. Audubon hiked through the nineteenth century American wilderness for weeks on end, observing and collecting birds and other wildlife. He was one of the first people to call for the conservation of America’s wilderness and wildlife. I want to know his thoughts on where we are today in America. What would he have to say about our prairies without bison or the fragmentation of eastern forests? And what advice might he give?...

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Kara Penn Scholar Year: 1994 Hometown: Lakewood College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): M.B.A., Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, M.P.P., University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy B.A., Colorado College (1998) Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I own a small consulting company, Mission Spark, which partners with philanthropy, nonprofit and social enterprise leaders to achieve transformative social change and to strengthen the social sector. Mission Spark is celebrating five years this fall. I am a very mission-driven person, and every day I get to support passionate leaders and organizations striving to make the world a better place. It is such a privilege and gift to do this work, and there is so much variety in what I do on a day-to-day basis. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? I get a little choked up when I think about the difference Boettcher has made in my life. I've always cared deeply about social and environmental causes and am driven by using my time and abilities to contribute in some way to the social good. Boettcher provided such a vote of confidence in my choices -- and it also gave me the financial freedom to pursue my passions. Being selected as a scholar snowballed into so many other wonderful opportunities and experiences in my life.  My gratitude to the foundation is immense, and I am always looking for ways to pay it forward. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. I recently trained as a Co-Active Coach through the Coach's Training Institute, and am very much enjoying both being coached and serving as a coach through the Boettcher Coaching Program. I am the immediate past chair of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board and have been involved with so many talented and committed scholar alumni over the years in creating and implementing a vision for growing an active alumni community. Board service is really important to me, and I serve on nonprofit boards whenever I can. I also had an incredible experience as a member of the Leadership Denver class of 2015, and co-chaired Ready, Set, College! -- an initiative of the class to provide a day of support, networking, skill-building, celebration and financial support to first generation college students setting off on their college journey. My two girls -- Ava (6) and Kayla (2) -- dogs Curry and Caper, and my husband are my heart. I love my time with my family -- especially when we are traveling together. We are always in search of a good adventure. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? The best lesson I've learned, both through advice and through experience, is to live each moment -- to not rush through the hard times, ignore grief, or gloss over disappointments, to not underplay joy, rites of passage, or moments of triumph, or even the day-to-day mundane. Finding ways to truly experience and be present to whatever comes, to ride whatever wave emerges. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? Oh, there are so many people-- artists, activists, poets-- I'd need a pretty big table, and there would be plenty of people that history never recognized but that have made immense contributions in their own ways. I would choose change-makers and creators, people who live or lived with conviction and in service of others, who fought or fight for justice -- people who inspire through their actions and can lift up the world with what they create, the vision they hold and their ability to lead others to see the promise of what's possible....

  By Gergana Kostadinova Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board The Boettcher Foundation and the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board co-hosted a public service roundtable on May 26. The event featured Boettcher Scholars from unique backgrounds who are currently involved in diverse positions of public service. Tim Schultz, president and executive director of the Boettcher Foundation since 1996, moderated the panel and provided insights from his experiences in public service. The panelists included: Russ George, president of Colorado Northwestern Community College and a Boettcher Foundation Trustee, who has a long history of public service, including the position of former Speaker of the House for the State of Colorado; Angelique Diaz, environmental engineer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Julie Marie Shepherd, director of Aurora Public Schools Board of Education; and Kathie Novak, former Northglenn mayor and city council member. The evening was a refreshing reminder that service can take many forms. To start things off, Tim, who has always been driven to “look for ways to do the right thing,” emphasized that the foundation expects scholars to give back to their communities and the state of Colorado, and public service is one way to do just that. Kathie agreed, explaining that the scholarship inspired her to give back as a public servant. Julie’s interest in public service was triggered by her genuine passion for state and local government, explaining that through her position she feels responsible for the day-to-day lives of 42,000 children. For Angelique, a passion for service grew from her admiration and respect for her father, a firefighter, who inspired her to use her “unique skill-set to make a difference.” Russ formally began his career in public service after 25 years in law, but giving back was always part of his life. He mentioned that, “volunteering is a close cousin of public service.” Public service jobs are not always easy and come with constant scrutiny, which is a hurdle the panelists continuously fight to overcome. But their commitment never wavers. Tim reminded us of the Boettcher Family's expectations and that the future lies in the potential of hard-working Coloradans, such as the impressive panelists. Based on her experiences, Kathie explained that public servants are driven to solve tough problems, and we need the best minds working on those big challenges. If you are interested in tackling any of these challenges, Tim has a reminder: The Boettcher Foundation is here to help all scholars in their pursuit of public service.  ...

The Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board is interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Ashlyn Stewart Scholar Year: 2013 Hometown: Greeley College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): University of Denver, B.A. in English and History, will graduate in June 2017 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? When I graduate next June, I hope to continue my education by obtaining a master's degree and then a doctorate. Right now, I'm interested in a Ph.D in rhetoric & composition because it speaks to what I’ve always loved about literature: the nitty-gritty rules of grammar, syntax, punctuation, diction, et. al. I’ve also always had a love of writing, and I would thoroughly enjoy fostering a joy of the painstaking, frustrating, yet beautiful art in students as a professor. Rhetoric & composition offers a powerful, focused lens to grapple with writing and literature that I’d like to explore further. Still, other interests of mine like formalist/structuralist, criticism, library science and, most of all, linguistics tug at my heartstrings and intellectual curiosity. I’m glad I still have another year at DU to get a firm plan together!  Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. My first rule for myself upon matriculating to DU was to only join three clubs—totally unlike the circus of extra-curricular activities I had in high school. I have since been able to dedicate thoughtful time, energy and enthusiasm to a few instead of only having a shadowy presence in many. I wanted to join clubs that would foster my academic interests and connect me to people with similar ones, so I’ve primarily worked with the English Department’s groups, including the Foothills Visual & Textual Journal and the English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta. I’ve been the design editor of Foothills for three years now, and we’ve produced a journal to showcase student work each spring that I’ve been proud to distribute. I will be the editor-in-chief of Foothills next year, and the co-president of Sigma next year, so I think others have noticed my commitment, as well! Tell us about an important mentor you have had. I had such phenomenal teachers in high school that I was worried I would not be able to find mentors who could compare while I was in college. Fortunately, I was wrong!  One important role model and mentor for me has been the chair of the History Department: Dr. Susan Schulten. I had a class on the history of America’s presidency in wartime with her my freshman year, and with her help, have since grown into the history major I am today! She is a professor who empowers her students to learn and share, and a quiet leader who runs an amazing department. She has always made time for even my most banal questions and makes sure I truly understand her answer. Dr. Schulten is the advisor for the thesis project I will complete next year, and I can’t wait to learn more from her in my last year! What's the best advice you've ever received? My parents were careful to tell me that I was hard-working when I was growing up instead of telling me I was smart. When I did well in school, it wasn’t because I was smarter than other people, but because I worked harder. I still carry this sentiment with me today because how hard I work is what I can control. I can’t make my brain understand a new vocabulary term or see a sentence in a new way on its own; I have to put in the time and energy to make it happen! Some tasks might take less work for me than others, but I think every task I complete is going to take work. In line with this thinking, I believe the best advice I’ve received was actually a quote from Maya Angelou (one of my favorite writers): “Nothing will work unless you do.” If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? As a history major, this question is especially tough! It’s too hard to decide what historical mystery I would like to solve, so I’ll opt instead for making progress in historical linguistics. The group of people I would pick would be speakers of the English language and its ancestors across history. Linguists have done an amazing job of reconstructing how Middle English and Old English were pronounced based on limited manuscripts, and even proto-Germanic and proto-Indo-European before then based solely on inference and deduction. However, if I could hear and record how all of those languages were truly spoken, historical linguistics would have an enormous breakthrough! I suppose I’d have to figure out how to communicate all with all of these people at my dinner party, but maybe that goes hand-in-hand with the time travel!...

The Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board is interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Kyle Blackmer Scholar Year: 2004 Hometown: Greeley College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): J.D., University of Colorado Law School (2011), Order of the Coif B.S., University of Colorado-Boulder (2008), with high distinction Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? For the past three years I’ve been practicing corporate real estate law at Otten Johnson Robinson Neff & Ragonetti in Denver. I counsel clients on all sorts of real estate deals and draft and negotiate the contracts that effectuate and govern these transactions. My favorite aspect of what I do is putting together the legal and business puzzle that is a deal and contract—thinking creatively, analytically, practically and strategically to accomplish our client’s goals within the confines of the law and the business deal that’s been struck, and drafting clear, well-written agreements that reflect the assembled puzzle. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? In a word: transformative. Without the scholarship, I may not have stayed in Colorado for college, and I likely would not have had certain experiences in college that forever changed the trajectory of my life. Being a scholar also afforded certain opportunities at CU Law that to this day continue yielding immense returns. Undoubtedly, though, I am most thankful for the people who are in my life as a result of me being a scholar. But for the scholarship, I likely would not have met my amazing wife, Lindsay, nor would I have met three of my dearest friends. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. I serve as the current chair of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board. For years I was looking for a way to take the tremendous investment the foundation made in me and pay it forward. The alumni board is one way to do that. It’s been very rewarding to reconnect with and support the foundation and other scholars. I am also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Colorado Law School, and I serve on the law school’s Practitioners Council. Lastly, I ride with and race for a road cycling club based out of Boulder, where I currently live. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? Best advice I've received: Your only obligation in life is to be true to yourself. For current college graduates: Before deciding whether to go to law school, talk to as many lawyers as you can about what it is they really do on a daily basis, and, if possible, work at a law firm. Law school takes too much time, effort and money to attend based on what you think a lawyer does. For current law school graduates: The skills that will distinguish you are being a good listener, empathizing with your clients, emotional intelligence and asking the right questions. Assume nothing, and think creatively yet practically. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? Oh, wow, this is tough. A few at the top of my list are Ralph Waldo Emerson, Kurt Vonnegut and Herman Hesse's Siddhartha. Because of their respective philosophies, ethos, passions, interests and senses of humor, I think we'd be pretty good buddies....