Scholar Profiles

Boettcher Foundation Press Release

14 Mar Boettcher Scholar, historical reenactor helps museum with Viking exhibition

Chelsea Carr lives three lives. A 2006 Boettcher Scholar and recent graduate of the University of Colorado Law School, Chelsea is working as a law clerk in the 19th Judicial District. After hours and on weekends, however, Chelsea becomes either Svara or Sveni, twin brother and sister from the Viking-age trading town of Birka, circa 850 to 900 AD. Chelsea is an active member of the Fjellborg Vikings, a historical reenactment group dedicated to the accurate portrayal of the Viking age. The group conducts reenactments at festivals and educational events throughout the state. During those events, Chelsea dons hand-sewn clothing and historically accurate battle gear as she teaches visitors about the backstories of her two characters. The Fjellborg Vikings will be on one of their biggest stages soon as the group has been called on to assist with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s upcoming exhibition “Vikings: Beyond the Legend,” which runs March 10 through August 13. ”It’s a recognition of how far we have come as a group and that we are committed to this level of historical accuracy,” said Chelsea, who also serves on the Fjellborg Viking executive board. The group, which includes approximately 30 members, will perform at VIP opening events and family days, and they have contributed their own handmade, historically accurate materials, including a lute and Viking boat, to expand the exhibition. They are also helping to prepare the museum’s on-staff historical reenactors for their own roles in the exhibit. “We are helping them to create their own historically accurate ‘kits’ that will include everything from clothing to shoes to the details of their lives,” Chelsea said. While historical reenactment may seem like a fun opportunity to get dressed up and play a role, participants are obsessively committed to historical accuracy and setting the record straight when it comes to misconceptions about the Vikings A big one for Chelsea is the fact that Vikings didn’t wear the horned helmets frequently associated with them. “The beards are real; the horns are not,” she said, explaining that a pamphlet promoting an opera in the 1800s is responsible for popularizing the false characterization. Chelsea’s connection to the Fjellborg Vikings started when she was an undergraduate at CU, majoring in English and journalism and minoring in geology and Nordic studies. The Fjellborg Vikings would visit campus to participate in a Nordic market day and conduct occasional combat demonstrations. Chelsea stayed in touch with the group and joined after graduation, but she wasn’t able to commit significant time to the pursuit until she graduated from law school. “It was a way to stay active in something I really loved and keep doing something I enjoyed even though my life was taking a different path,” she said. In addition to maintaining a connection to her Nordic studies minor, Viking reenactment provides a link to Chelsea’s youth. “I grew up in the country in a small town,” she said. “I grew up making butter and sewing things.” One part of Viking life that wasn’t part of Chelsea’s youth: combat. The Fjellborg Vikings have twice-monthly training sessions where they work on their battle techniques. They are frequently assessed on their battle styles and have to pass tests before they are allowed to practice combat in front of people. The bows and arrows used by the Fjellborg Vikings are modified so they’ll never strike their target with force harder than a paintball. The group also uses handmade shields and swords that are not sharp but are heavy enough to inflict serious bruises. For her part, Chelsea prefers to do battle with an axe, and she’s hoping to become certified as an archery instructor for other historical reenactors. As Chelsea contemplates the path her life has taken since becoming a Boettcher Scholar, she’s certain that her life as Svara and Sveni – or as a law school grad – wouldn’t have been possible without the Boettcher Foundation’s support. “Getting a Boettcher Scholarship changed my life,” Chelsea said. “I came from a big family in a small town that did not have the money to send me to college. While Chelsea figured she’d find a way to pay for college, she had her sights set on a less expensive college, and she certainly didn’t consider law school a possibility. The Boettcher Scholarship also allowed Chelsea to study abroad in Sweden, helping to cement her interest in Nordic studies and the Viking Age.  ...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

13 Mar Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2015 scholar Suraj Renganathan

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: Suraj Renganathan Scholar Year: 2015 Hometown: Fort Collins College(s), Degree(s):University of Denver, International business and public policy/leadership What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I am currently considering several different options upon graduation. On one hand, I would like to pursue a career in government relations and serve as a liaison between the public and private sector. Specifically, I would like to perform economic and market research in investment or corporate banking, thereby functioning as an advisor for policymakers, other businesses and interest groups. However, I am also considering applying for post-graduate fellowships and pursuing a master’s degree abroad. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. Rather than focusing on a few activities and going “all in,” I have always preferred to involve myself in a wide variety of pursuits. Right now, I am the president of the University of Denver Roosevelt Institute, which is an undergraduate policy think-tank. The Roosevelt Institute attempts to promote a cause dear to me, namely youth engagement in politics. In addition, I am also a research assistant at the Pardee Center for International Futures. Perhaps one of my more “surprising” extracurricular endeavors is acapella, where I sing bass and beatbox for the DU Idiosingcrasies. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. Probably the most significant mentor I have had in my life was my AP U.S. history teacher, Ms. Matthie. Not only was her class my favorite course throughout high school, but Ms. Matthie played an important role in shaping my goals and ambitions. She instilled in me a confidence to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone and tackle issues which initially seem daunting. Though I am now a couple of years removed from high school, I still consider Ms. Matthie to be a strong influence in my life. What's the best advice you've ever received? Regardless of what you achieve, always remain humble. This saying, which was constantly repeated to me by my mother throughout my life, is the most meaningful piece of advice I have received. It serves as a personal reminder to avoid the pitfalls of complacency or arrogance. Despite whatever successes I may have gained, this piece of advice helps to keep me grounded. It also functions as a motivator to constantly try and improve myself and not feel satisfied with the status-quo. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? Ronald Reagan and Alexander Hamilton. Reagan because “The Gipper” was a transformational figure in American history and Hamilton because Lin-Manuel Miranda can spit some serious rhymes about our founding fathers!...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

13 Mar Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2000 scholar Ruthie Lestikow

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: Ruthie (Martin) Lestikow Scholar Year: 2000 Hometown: Dolores College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s):Colorado College BA in biology graduated 2004; Loma Linda University, master's in physician assistant sciences, graduated 2008 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 a physician assistant for eight years and have worked in beautiful places like San Diego and Washington, D.C. I have practiced in pediatrics, geriatrics, house-call medicine and internal medicine. For the last four years, I have worked in Highlands Ranch at a small private practice in internal medicine, and not a day goes by that I don't learn something new. Being a primary care PA is very rewarding. You are helping people be healthy and stay healthy while getting to know them and their families personally. I also feel great about being a part of a solution to the problem of a primary care provider shortage in our country. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Being a Boettcher Scholar has helped to instill philanthropy and service into my daily routine and mindset. It helped me to find a way to use my love of biology and science to give back to my community by working in the medical field. Turns out being a Boettcher Scholar also helped me to find the love of my life, my husband Greg. Without the scholarship I would have not been able to attend Colorado College where I met my great husband! Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. Outside of working as a physician assistant, I also precept physician assistant and nurse practitioner students from many universities and programs from across the United States. I am also a Boettcher Alumni Ambassador and recently took on heading up the Boettcher Class Champion project as part of the outreach committee of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board. For fun, I love playing ice hockey and being with my family outdoors backpacking, telemark skiing, snowboarding, mountain and road biking, hiking and really just being outside all year long. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field? Some of the best advice I received when considering going into the medical field was to take time and shadow, or at least talk to, multiple different people who worked in jobs or fields that I was interested in. My advice for current graduates wanting to go into medicine is to take a year or more off after undergraduate school. Allow yourself the opportunity to travel or gain experience in the field you would like to work in. When you go back to school you will be refreshed and can bring so much more experience to the table. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? The first two people from history that come to mind that I would love to have dinner with are the physicist and chemist Marie Curie and the Dali Lama. I would love to pick Marie Curie's brain about her experiences as one of the first females in science to make significant discoveries. I also like to think that just by sitting next to the Dali Lama I would gain more mindfulness and patience. For a person to still be so loving, kind and thoughtful after all the pain and persecution he has suffered is truly inspiring....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

01 Mar Starbucks director and Boettcher Scholar pays forward the college experience through new program

How does an economics major from Littleton, Colorado become the director of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan? In her own words, “by continually taking on new challenges and pushing myself to try new things.” Mary Dixon has spent two decades working for the largest coffee chain in the world, but before that, she was a 1986 Boettcher Scholar who attended Colorado College. “I remember that moment of opening the envelope—it was so thin I thought it must be bad news—but when I saw that I’d received the scholarship, it was such a moment of pride,” Mary recalls. “It was in my nature to be involved in academics and in my community, and Boettcher validating those attributes strengthened my resolve to continue being of service to others.”  Serving others is what led Mary to her current role, directing Starbucks’ college reimbursement program for any employee who works at least 20 hours a week. Committed to its community, Starbucks aims to graduate 25,000 employees by the year 2025. “We’re constantly thinking about how we can make this program better, or what’s the next thing we can offer to our partners that grows both the organization and each of them individually,” Mary explained. Over the years, Mary has held several positions at Starbucks, ranging from retail to global responsibility, and though it may not seem like a traditional path, Mary credits her liberal arts education for the career she has today. “The jobs of tomorrow don’t even exist yet today, so it’s more about teaching critical thinking,” Mary said. “My liberal arts education gave me that base, and I’ve felt comfortable taking on new challenges because of that. It also gave me communication skills that are useful in any job.” After graduating from CC, Mary worked with foreign exchange students in Boston and Australia. From there, Mary realized she was ready for a new challenge and wanted to be back on the west coast working in the food industry. “A friend told me about this little company called ‘Starbucks’ that had a few hundred stores,” Mary remembers. She researched the company and liked the fact that it was centered around a mission and a set of core values. Shortly after Starbucks became a publicly traded company, Mary was hired into the manager training program in retail in San Francisco. In fact, Mary was part of the team that helped Starbucks expand into Colorado and several other states for the first time. She then became the director of global operations and helped Starbucks expand internationally, opening stores in 17 new markets, throughout Asia and Europe. “There are amazing people that work here, and we get to do amazing work—we are always pushing forward, giving back and thinking about what is the role and responsibility of a public company,” Mary said. After living in Amsterdam, opening stores throughout Europe, Mary returned to Seattle with her husband and infant son, transitioning into a role focused on corporate social responsibility. She helped to connect partners on a global scale and emphasized community service around the time of Starbucks’ 40th anniversary. “Helping others and connecting people to opportunities just seemed to be the way I’ve approached life” said Mary. That “way of life” has been present throughout Mary’s journey. Serving others helped her to earn her Boettcher Scholarship, and it’s also a large part of her current role where she gets to pay it forward to the next generation of students, and help them attend college debt-free. After 23 years with Starbucks, Mary continues to seek out new challenges, and is ever-appreciative to be in a place that remains driven by a mission and values that align with her own....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

15 Feb Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 1997 scholar Alex Gordon

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: Alex Gordon Scholar Year: 1997 Hometown: Denver College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): University of Denver, B.A. in communications, 2001; starting executive MBA program at DU in spring 2017 Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? Since co-founding Syntrinsic Investment Counsel eight years ago, I have served in a variety of roles at the firm. Currently, I am the chief operating officer as well as the chief compliance officer. As a boutique investment firm that specializes in financial stewardship advice for nonprofit organizations, I have been able to blend my problem-solving skills with my passion for giving back to the broader community. In addition, I enjoy moonlighting on the weekends as a DJ and videographer for weddings and private parties. This allows me to explore my artistic side and love for music. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Twenty years ago I had no idea that becoming a Boettcher Scholar would be one of those key inflection points that changed the course of my life. Not only was I receiving the financial award to finish my education debt free, but there was a longer-lasting benefit. I was welcomed into an extended family of scholars that provide such a diverse network which I can tap into for professional or personal advice. Now I am continuing that tradition by finding ways to be a role model for the next generation of scholars. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. It has always been important to me to have three pillars in my life - a loving and supportive home life, an engaging professional life and an authentic community life. When all three are solid, I feel happy and content. My community life has included coaching my sons' soccer teams, leading 13-year-olds through an unforgettable trip to Costa Rica and serving as a board member of a supporting foundation. More recently I have chosen to expand my knowledge of Denver through my involvement with the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation’s Leadership Denver program. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field? One of my favorite memories of my first rock concert, Jethro Tull, was the song "You’re Never too Old to Rock ’n’ Roll if You're Never too Young to Die." These words have been ingrained in my soul ever since. The first part is a reminder that you should never forget to do the things that you love best, no matter what age you are. The second part solidifies the statement by putting the listener on notice that tomorrow is not guaranteed so you better live in the now. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? There are plenty of people I would love to have dinner with that are still alive, but I am going to hold out hope I may still have that chance. So, I would like to have dinner with a fictional character from the book and musical Les Miserables. Jean Valjean’s life is one that was filled with amazing challenges and tests of his character. I admire his ability to make the most of the chances he was given and stay true to his life of paying it forward. I would also enjoy the opportunity to hear a personal performance of the best songs from my favorite musical....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

25 Jan Boettcher Scholar helps refugees and hospital patients during visit to Kurdistan

When a recent trip to visit her ailing grandmother meant traveling to Iraq, Laveen Khoshnaw, a 2015 Boettcher Scholar, used her time to reconnect with family and while helping the local community. Laveen was born in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq. Her family fled the region in 1998 after her father’s work with an American humanitarian organization caused him to be targeted by Saddam Hussein’s regime. After spending time in Guam, the family relocated to Colorado Springs where Laveen grew up and graduated from high school. As a sophomore at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Laveen is majoring in biomedical sciences and minoring in biochemistry, political science and leadership. She plans to attend medical school and harbors a dream of becoming the U.S. Surgeon General, although her more practical ambition is to practice medicine and help repair the Middle East. “It’s such a rich, wonderful place that’s just in the wrong hands,” she said. Because she still had family in the region, Laveen has had the opportunity to return to Iraq to visit her family in recent years. But her most recent trip, prompted by her grandmother’s stroke last year, quickly evolved into a humanitarian mission and an education on Iraq’s health care system and how that system is being impacted by refugees from southern Iraq and Syria. “There are so many families in the streets, and the public hospitals are completely packed,” Laveen recalled of her summer in Iraq. “There is no shelter or housing (for refugees), so they seek refuge in the hospitals. They’re just looking for a place to sit and get out of the heat.” When describing the hospitals, Laveen, who is a Certified Nursing Assistant, is quick to note that they are nothing like American hospitals. In addition to less sanitary conditions and overstretched staff, she noted that patients’ families are expected to fulfill many responsibilities, like feeding and cleaning up after their relatives who are hospitalized. Seeing the need, Laveen and her family began working to help stock the hospitals and provide better supplies. They brought in basics like bottled water and disposable sheets they obtained via an uncle in Switzerland. Similarly, the family went into refugee communities and brought in supplies to help them build better shelters. “It was so heart-wrenching to see the situation and not be able to do even more,” she said. Laveen returned from her summer in Kurdistan with a new resolve to help people, especially refugees in the Middle East. She and her friends are planning to host a fundraising gala to help Syrian refugees. Laveen is also considering a second journey to assist struggling health care systems. This time, she’ll be headed to Nicaragua with members of Global Medical Brigades, an on-campus organization of pre-med students that provides medical support in struggling countries. In addition to her work with Global Medical Brigades, Laveen is an associate chief justice with UCCS’ student government association and is active in the pre-health society, while also working at a local optometrist’s office. “I’ve always wanted to go back and make change in the Middle East, but now it is more focused on the health care system,” she said, adding that she expects she will practice medicine in the United States but start or work with a group of people to effect change in the Middle East as well. “I know I’m not going to be the one person who changes, it, but if I can get a team of likeminded people – as cheesy as it sounds – I think we can make a difference.”...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

20 Jan Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2013 scholar Chandler Price

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: Chandler Price Scholar Year: 2013 Hometown: Pueblo College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s):University of Northern Colorado, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, 2017 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? After graduation, I am interested in pursuing a new graduate position in medical-surgical nursing. I would love to stay in Northern Colorado, but I am leaving my options completely open. I’m always up for a new adventure! I am also looking into returning to the University of Northern Colorado within a year after graduation to apply for the School of Nursing’s Post Bachelor's to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program with an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) Emphasis. I have fallen in love with traveling, so I am hoping to pursue nursing-related trips abroad as well. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. While at UNC, I joined three incredible organizations. I joined Christian Challenge because I wanted to build a strong, supportive community. I met all of my dearest friends there - it takes real friendship to support a nursing student! I joined the National Society of Collegiate Scholars where I served as Vice President of Community Service. I wanted to connect deeply with the Greeley community, and I became a huge fan of Habitat for Humanity. Lastly, I served as President of the Student Nurses Association for two years. I wanted to welcome, lead, and network with current and future nurses. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. I am four months from graduation because of many fine individuals, but Deb Rojas, a professor in the UNC School of Nursing, is one mentor I would not be here without. Deb is the definition of a mentor – an experienced and trusted adviser. She allows students to see her heart. She emphasizes holistic, patient-centered care. She teaches the importance of self-care. Deb coordinates the nursing simulation labs and the 9Health Fair at UNC. She has taught me the importance of leading, organizing, and networking, and has given me the opportunity to work and learn alongside her. I am forever thankful. What's the best advice you've ever received? The best advice I’ve ever received came from a picture I found while scrolling on Pinterest. It was written by Gretchen Saffles and the original sources was a website called Life Lived Beautifully. The lovely words said, “Dream your dreams, then ask God to shape them, scrub them, and steward them for His glory.” My jaw dropped as my eyes skimmed over the words again and again. I cherish the freedom I have to dream my dreams, but ultimately I want to glorify God with my life. I’ll be thriving off of this advice the rest of my life. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? If I could have dinner with one person from history, I would choose Mother Teresa. I love the authentic life she embodied. She lived with the servant heart I long for. She was quiet, kind, and compassionate, but she also showed a unique strength. She was passionate about helping others. She lived a quiet life but the impact she made was loud. I’d like to ask her how she handled conflict. I’d love for her to teach me her “Do it, Anyway” approach to life. If I was cooking dinner, I think her forgiving nature would also come in handy....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

17 Jan Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2013 scholar Jordan Rudman

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: Jordan Rudman Scholar Year: 2013 Hometown: Denver College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Colorado College, molecular biology major, music minor, graduating 2017 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I’ll be applying to medical school this summer, to begin in the fall of 2018. I’m interested in pursuing emergency medicine, but I’m certainly open to other possibilities as well. In the meantime, I’ll be moving back to Denver where I hope to continue working as an EMT in either a hospital emergency department or with a local ambulance company. Additionally, I hope to continue my musical hobbies: playing jazz piano and singing. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. I’ve been in far too many music ensembles: choir, jazz combo and Balinese Gamelan, to name a few. I have appreciated the opportunity to pursue music along with my pre-medicine studies; I hope to always have that balance in my life. I also help run CC’s student EMS squad. We respond to medical emergencies on campus and provide education and training opportunities in pre-hospital medicine. It’s been extremely rewarding to help lead an organization of students caring for other students. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. I had a middle school teacher, David, who would play geography trivia with me on the school bus ride to soccer practice. He saw me for exactly who I was and taught me to embrace it; for that I will always be extremely grateful. I no longer play soccer, but I still love trivia. What's the best advice you've ever received? When playing in a jazz band: listen more than you play. As someone who is very comfortable talking, that’s been an important lesson and one that I’ve found vastly improves many aspects of my life. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? Dr. Oliver Sacks. He was the most beautiful embodiment of an artistic scientist....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

17 Jan Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 1997 scholar Jessica Cuthbertson

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: Jessica Joy (Fawcett) Cuthbertson Scholar Year: 1997 Hometown: Fowler College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Regis University, B.A., Communication Arts & Sociology, 2001; University of Colorado Denver, M.A., Curriculum and Instruction, 2009; University of Denver, Morgridge College of Education, Principal Licensure, 2015; National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I currently serve on the communications team at the Center for Teaching Quality, a national nonprofit committed to ensuring a high-quality public education system for all students, driven by the bold ideas and expert practices of teachers. Prior to joining CTQ full time in 2016, I worked in K-12 public education for over 13 years and served as a middle school English teacher and learning lab host, an instructional coach and a "teacherpreneur." Working in public education, both within and outside the K-12 classroom, and now from the nonprofit perspective, is joyful and challenging work. Seeing growth in students and working with educators to elevate and amplify their voices are the most rewarding aspects. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Without question, the Boettcher Foundation’s values helped shape who I am today. I believe it is vital to cultivate and retain our state’s talent and expertise, in large part because of the Boettcher Foundation’s influence. As a result of the Boettcher Scholarship, I was able to attend my top in-state choice of college, Regis University, and their mission of “men and women in the service of others” has guided my professional decisions and postgraduate endeavors. I also worked for the Boettcher Foundation as a fellow in 2001-02, and my experiences traveling the state to speak with counselors, high school students and parents about the scholarship inspired me to pursue a career in public education. Being a Boettcher Scholar continues to drive my commitment to working toward a more equitable public education system for all students in rural, suburban and urban districts across our great state. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. I’m a self-proclaimed “edu-geek” so most of my involvement, unsurprisingly, is connected to the field of education. I serve on Chalkbeat Colorado’s Reader Advisory Board and follow local and national education policy closely. You can find me interacting with educators via social media, including participating in or moderating Twitter chats, webinars and blogging roundtable discussions on any given weeknight. I also serve as the state captain of the Colorado Core Advocates, a network of passionate K-12 educators committed to standards implementation and equitable, high-quality instruction in our state’s classrooms. We are also active members of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Aurora. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field? Growing up in a rural area, my parents always encouraged me to pursue my passions, from community theater to journalism. They’d often quote the phrase: “Don’t do something today, that you wouldn’t want to read about in tomorrow’s newspaper.” Even though we are less of a newspaper culture, I think this is great advice, especially in our social media-driven society. Their support has helped me discern, reflect and fail forward at different crossroads in my life. My advice for aspiring educators? Visit (and study) as many classrooms as you can, and ask for feedback (from students, colleagues and formal evaluators) as much as possible. You’ll become a more culturally responsive teacher much quicker if you let students guide, inform and shape your pedagogy. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I’d love to organize many dinner parties with historical figures and thinkers from around the globe! I minored in women’s studies at Regis, and believe we’re living in a really interesting time to explore aspects of gender, sexism and civil rights. I would probably start with an invitation to suffragists and abolitionists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I would love to thank them for their activism, learn more about the challenges they faced in their advocacy efforts and pick their brain about contemporary social justice issues, including best practices for scaling women’s leadership in the 21st century....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

14 Dec Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2014 scholar Brandon Kahlil Thomas

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: Brandon Kahlil Thomas Scholar Year: 2014 Hometown: Aurora College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): University of Colorado-Boulder, Linguistics (B.A./M.A.), December 2018 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? The fun thing about being a linguist is that there are very diverse opportunities available. My current plan is to teach English in Korea before coming back to the metro area and doing the same work for Colorado adults who don’t speak English. I’m also interested in doing work with local governments attempting to communicate with and hear the needs of immigrant populations. Colorado is a hotspot for immigration, and language barriers have left thousands of people without a voice. I want to help build a society where every voice can be heard, in whatever language it has access to. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. At CU, I work often with the Black Student Alliance (BSA), Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPoC) and UMAS y MEChA (a Chicano-run Latinx student group). Identity is at the crux of what I study because I think that identity is at the center of how we learn about ourselves and others. I work with these groups on campus because they build people who look and think like me to be advocates and activists, and build communities together. Connecting with other Black, Latinx and Queer people is key to my emotional health, and the communities I’ve built from these groups encourage me to blossom and be better. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. To this day, my most trusted mentor is an old high school teacher, David Gates. Mr. Gates is one of those rare men who can find beauty in anyone, significance in anything and comedy in any place. And he is brilliant! I spent many weeks just watching the way he interacted with people around us, in the classroom and outside of it, and he inspired me to be to empathetic and caring person I’m growing to be: he truly is the embodiment of caring and understanding. I hope to visit him and his wife soon in Japan. What's the best advice you've ever received? Someone once told me, “At the end of the day, the best way to measure success is looking in a mirror.” I don’t remember who said it to me, but it encouraged me to begin a ritual of looking in the mirror every morning and thinking about who I saw there, and how I felt about him. Especially in recent years, that’s something that I’ve had to do at several points to gauge my own success and make sure I am a person I enjoy being. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? My mother named me after the Lebanese poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran, and I feel like in many ways, that makes him a part of me. I’ve read most of his works, but I think it’d be pleasant to sit down with him, face to face, and share a nice meal....
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