Scholar Profiles

Boettcher Foundation Press Release

15 Jul Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 1984 scholar Noel Lenski

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....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

01 Jul Boettcher Scholar Dee Bradley Baker gives voice to risk taking

Though you may have never seen Dee Bradley Baker, a 1981 Boettcher Scholar from Greeley, you’ve likely heard his voice. As a voice actor, Dee has brought literally thousands of characters to life, including animals in Disney’s latest The Jungle Book, Perch Perkins in Spongebob Squarepants, Klaus the German fish in American Dad, Fish in the Boxtrolls and even Daffy Duck and Tasmanian Devil in the 1996 movie Space Jam. Dee’s voice acting career has now spanned three decades, but as a Boettcher Scholar at Colorado College, he never planned on being an actor. In June, Dee visited the Boettcher Foundation office, where he talked about the impact of receiving the Boettcher Scholarship. He also treated the staff to a variety of his most famous character voices and entertaining sound effects. (Check out the video below for Dee's voice acting tips and creature noises that actually scared our office neighbors). “The reason I can do what I do now is from the education that I was allowed,” said Dee. “I always liked animals, monsters, biology and arts. I’m a liberal arts poster child.” Attending college as a Boettcher Scholar, Dee was able to take classes in a variety of areas and explore all of his passions. His majors reflected his top interests: philosophy, biology and German. Now, he’s able to apply all of those degrees daily in his career. His knowledge of biology gives him insight into how non-humans communicate, and his German shines through in Klaus, a character that was originally intended to be French until Dee auditioned as German. “Happily with a Boettcher scholarship I emerged into the real world debt-free, which allowed me to not freak out, and not enter the world with a sense of fearfulness or dread like many students unfortunately do,” said Dee. After college, Dee began doing musical theater and singing telegrams in Colorado Springs. He also did amateur stand-up, finding inspiration in Monty Python and Steve Martin. He discovered his comedic niche in making “weird sounds.” “I had no acting goals and didn’t think about it as a career. I just liked it,” said Dee, slipping into his best Beetlejuice voice. A few years later, Dee performed in Disney World Shows, including Beetlejuice, and finally made his way to L.A. to perform in his first show, Legends of the Hidden Temple, an action-adventure game show for children on Nickelodeon. From there, he continued honing his craft, becoming a go-to-guy for character voices in movies, animated shows and even video games. Though he has tried on-screen acting, Dee has always preferred voice-acting, which he thinks is in-part due to his Colorado roots. “Voice acting has more anonymity and fewer liabilities. As an actor, you can end up with a somewhat insane life,” explained Dee, “And that’s what I like about coming back to Colorado. It’s nice to reset yourself to your roots and your ‘normal.’” Dee appreciates the focus on community, quality of life, rationality and sense of health that is present in Colorado. “Plus, it feels like home to me,” said Dee, even though he’s now lived in L.A. for half of his life. While in Colorado, Dee also has the opportunity to spend time with his family and practice his hobbies—insect and flower photography, learning to play bass so that he can combine 70’s funk with the music of Bach and his most recent pursuit of studying American history to better understand the current political climate. “I love taking pictures of bugs and flowers. I am amateur but I love the feeling that I am walking past a poem,” Dee said while buzzing like a bee. During his time in Hollywood, Dee has seen many actors give-in to Hollywood pressures, which is why he operates a free informational website where he shares his experience and tips for young people interested in voice acting. “You don’t solve your life by gaining fame or money. Ultimately it’s what you stand for and how you treat people.” Dee said. And for Boettcher Scholars, his advice is to take risks and to trust yourself. “The Boettcher Foundation gave me the gift of freedom of mind space. I was able to graduate college with those tools to try things and to not be afraid of failure. I always say: Find your career at an intersection of what you love and what you’re good at (so good that people will actually pay you money to do it). You may not yet know what that is and finding it may take years of trial and error. Trust yourself. I was an amateur actor until my late 20s.” ...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

15 Jun Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with current scholar Francis Commercon

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?...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

05 Jun Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 1994 scholar Kara Penn

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....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

02 Jun Boettcher Scholar connects communities through public radio

The vote of confidence inherent in being named a Boettcher Scholar allowed Tracy Wahl to feed her curiosity, search for her “inner spark” and eventually find her place as executive producer for editorial franchises at NPR. Tracy, a 1986 Boettcher Scholar, has worked at NPR in Washington, D.C. for twenty years, but still feels a strong connection to her Colorado roots. “My job is incredible, but my heart will always be in Colorado,” said Tracy. The daughter of a federal hydrologist, Tracy spent much of her childhood moving around the country, but her parents always wanted to settle in Colorado to be close to Tracy’s grandparents. By the time she entered high school, Tracy’s family permanently relocated to Arvada. From there, Tracy attended the University of Colorado and majored in communication, forming a tight network with her fellow Boettcher Scholars. “When I was at CU, Boettcher Scholars seemed to gravitate toward each other,” said Tracy. “When I met someone who was a Boettcher Scholar, I knew there was something special about them. I knew we’d share a common bond—openness and curiosity.” Tracy’s unique view of the world and desire to explore prompted her to move to Tokyo—without a job—after graduating college. She attributes part of that fearlessness to the confidence that came from being named a scholar as an eighteen-year-old. While in Japan, Tracy helped to open a library that catered to local English teachers. She contributed to the procurement of books and partnerships, and to designing the store, which later turned into a multi-million dollar company. When she returned to the U.S. to attend graduate school, Tracy volunteered at a radio station and learned to cut tape. “At the time, that was the type of skill you needed to get in the door at media companies,” Tracy remembered. It was because of that skill that NPR hired Tracy as a temp. She worked the overnight edition—a shift that had less-than-glamorous hours. Soon after, she began working for the Morning Edition. While her then-boss was receiving chemotherapy treatments, Tracy acted as interim executive producer. “I was definitely punching above my weight, but I knew I needed to keep the show going at the highest-quality and give my boss time to recover,” Tracy said. As a result of her hard work and ability to handle stress, Tracy was later hired as the permanent executive producer of the Morning Edition. In her current role, Tracy supports the various public radio member stations across the country by helping to connect them both with their local and national communities. Just like in college, Tracy is ever-motivated by curiosity—a value she tries to infuse into her work at NPR every day. Similarly, she encourages others to pursue opportunities that “light your inner spark.” In her spare time, Tracy enjoys researching outlets for storytelling. Her favorites: Instagram and Netflix. “Part of my job is to see how storytelling is done on different platforms,” Tracy said. She especially enjoys social photography and the value of a community of people who come together to share their passion in a creative way. Even from outside Colorado, Tracy feels tied to her Boettcher community. “I still love forming relationships with scholars and I think we can all have an increased impact on our world if we’re connected,” she said. Currently, Tracy helps the Boettcher community build these relationships by serving on the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

18 May Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with current scholar Ashlyn Stewart

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!...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

18 May Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with alumni Kyle Blackmer

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....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

27 Apr Boettcher Scholar helps shape diplomacy in Foreign Service role

Arnold Chacon leads an agency responsible for such high-stakes, far-reaching work as negotiations with Iran to reach a nuclear agreement, opening a new chapter in the United States’ relationship with the Cuban people, combating terrorists linked to ISIS and forging international alliances to mitigate the effects of climate change. He admits that his early experiences did not necessarily make him a natural for a career in diplomacy, but a love of public service and a desire to give back propelled him to his current role as Director General of the United States Foreign Service. A 1974 Boettcher Scholar, Arnold Chacon has led a life of service ever since he was in college, free to explore his passion for diplomacy without the burden of paying college tuition. A Denver native, Arnold attended North High School and later University of Colorado Boulder, where he was part of the President’s Leadership Class and majored in international studies. “Initially, I believed that the best way to help my community was to become a doctor, hence my seven summers doing volunteer work in Central America providing children with vaccinations and other public health services,” said Arnold. While based in Central America, he worked closely with U.S. development workers and diplomats, which inspired him to consider a new field of study. “I was smitten by the possibility of service abroad, switched my major to international affairs, joined the Foreign Service and found my calling in public service,” said Arnold. As a diplomat, he was posted in Honduras, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Italy and Spain, as well as in the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York. His domestic assignments in Washington D.C. included service as Deputy Executive Secretary for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. As part of her team, Arnold traveled extensively to the Middle East, Europe and Asia. He also served as the American Ambassador to Guatemala prior to becoming Director General. “Those of us in Foreign Service work to help shape a peaceful, prosperous, just and democratic world. The painstaking work of a diplomat, especially in the current international environment of fear and daunting challenges, is a privilege and high honor,” said Arnold. Though Arnold has a deep-seated service ethic, he would not have predicted his extensive career in government. “My family was among the first Spanish and Mexican settlers in Colorado and New Mexico. For generations very few people in my family traveled far from home. Nothing in my background and working class upbringing would have suggested that a diplomatic career was in my future,” said Arnold. His roots are what motivated him to work hard in school, give back to his community and apply for the Boettcher Scholarship. “The Boettcher scholarship allowed me to indulge my passion for international travel and take advantage of volunteer internship opportunities, which would have been difficult if not impossible had I needed to finance my education. The prestige and support inherent in a Boettcher scholarship opened many doors to me as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado, giving me the confidence, mentorship support and leadership skills I needed to succeed academically and professionally,” Arnold said. In his free time, Arnold enjoys gardening, hiking and spending time and traveling with his wife and three children. His wife, originally from Honduras, is also a member of the U.S. Foreign Service. His oldest daughter is an attorney in Silicon Valley, and his younger daughter is helping to develop a new museum at the State Department called the U.S. Diplomacy Center. His son is an economics and philosophy major at the University of Chicago, and plans to go into public service as well. Arnold has been serving his country for nearly four decades, and is still fueled by the same passion that inspired him to join the Foreign Service. “I’m passionate about educating students, especially students from historically underrepresented communities, about the different opportunities in the State Department and at our embassies overseas,” he said. When asked what advice he would give to current Boettcher Scholars, Arnold said “follow your dreams and ‘go long.’ Whether you are overcoming ordinary life challenges or extraordinary hurdles and circumstances, if you dream big—and complement that dream with grit and perseverance—big things will happen. You will certainly lose nothing, and possibly gain an extraordinary life.”        ...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

04 Apr Scholarship launches businessman into diverse career in Denver

Jack Pottle, a 1973 Boettcher Scholar, has helped shape some of Colorado’s top industries—from working in cable to providing homes for some of Denver’s trendiest new restaurants. And though Jack has called Colorado home for his entire life, he likely would not still be here without the Boettcher Scholarship. A Denver native, Jack Pottle attended Kennedy High school. Like many Boettcher Scholars, he originally planned to attend college out of state, setting his sights on a liberal arts college in California. “I hadn’t even applied to Colorado College, but after receiving the scholarship, it turned out that CC was an extraordinary place to go to school,” Jack said. Being a liberal arts major, Jack jokes that he could not decide what to do, which has led him to have five distinct careers. After graduating from CC, Jack began his career in the research and consulting business. Soon after, he began a career in cable, at the time when the growing industry made Denver the “cable capital of the world”, by joining Rifkin Communications as vice president of operations. He continued his tenure in cable as the president and chief operating officer of Fanch Communications. After selling the company in 1999, Jack joined the competitive telephone business, an industry he considers both very challenging and very rewarding. After selling that company in 2006, Jack became a managing partner at Viridian Investment Partners, a firm specializing in private equity. Currently, in his fifth career, Jack works to redevelop and repurpose old, historic buildings in North Denver. Recently, he helped to transform one of Denver’s historic brothels into Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox restaurant in the LoDo neighborhood, as well as redeveloping Cobbler’s Corner in the Sunnyside neighborhood. And still, Jack prioritizes community service and the spirit of giving back. “I think the fact that I am still in Colorado now is because of receiving the scholarship, and I think it also instilled in me a desire to give back.” His community involvement has primarily focused on education. He has served on the boards of the Young Americans National Bank, Colorado College and now Escuela de Guadalupe—a dual language school in Denver, whose mission is to develop its students into compassionate leaders. “I came from a family of educators, which taught me the importance of education and that there is no “magic ticket” in life, but that receiving an education is as close to one as it gets,” Jack said. It is that idea that fueled him during his own education, and has inspired him to help shape education in Colorado....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

01 Feb Scholars help Iraqi youth “fail better”

A group of students from Iraq got a unique lesson in entrepreneurship and risk-taking when they visited Denver, thanks to a connection forged by a pair of Boettcher Scholars. Gergana Kostadinova and Kara Penn got to know one another through their involvement in the Boettcher Alumni Steering Committee and subsequent membership on the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board. Gergana, a 2009 Boettcher Scholar and graduate of the University of Denver, coordinates exchange programs for WorldDenver, a nonprofit community organization dedicated to advancing a deep understanding of global affairs and cultures. One of her duties included preparing a program for participants in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program, which is sponsored and funded by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and administered by World Learning in partnership with WorldDenver. The group consisted of 11 students ages 15-17 and one adult Iraqi mentor, along with a World Learning staff member. A specific goal of the visit was to help the students learn about entrepreneurship, so Gergana and her colleagues thought it was important for the youth to learn about how to make smart mistakes and take educated risks. Fortunately, Kara literally wrote the book on the subject. Kara, a 1994 Boettcher Scholar and graduate of Colorado College, and her co-author Anjali Sastry, focused on smart mistakes in their book Fail Better, which examines how people and organizations can innovate, take risks and learn from their mistakes. Although Kara has frequently presented on the topic, she had never done so for the age group Gergana was working with. But Kara adapted her program, and the result was a workshop that positively engaged students with a difficult topic. “The thing that stood out to me was how open the students were,” Kara said. “They could talk in a nuanced way about the restrictions they felt in their culture around failure.” The students carried Kara’s lessons with them throughout their visit, which also included a civic engagement workshop, volunteer project and other lectures. Gergana noticed many of them using phrases like “fail better” and “make smart mistakes” in subsequent discussions throughout the week. The collaboration was a great reminder for both Kara and Gergana of the power of the Boettcher community. “It was great to know there is a Boettcher network of very successful individuals who are willing to work together,” Gergana said. “Knowing that I could reach out to Kara and be confident that she would open my email and not hesitate to ask questions or voice concerns and be willing to help me run with an idea is an incredible thing.” Kara added that knowing a person is a member of the Boettcher community can function like a stamp of approval. “Working with another Boettcher, you know that more often than not, things are going to go really well and that it will be an incredible opportunity,” she said.    ...
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