Author: Boettcher Foundation

By Cameron Elder, 2018 Boettcher Scholar In life, we all go through seasons that teach us things about others, ourselves, or the world around us. This past year has done all of the above in my life. From living in the big city to transitioning to small town life and the in between, I have changed and grown in ways I never anticipated. As with all of us that have experienced the unexpected our world has dished out, life is unpredictable and full of surprises of all kinds. I have quickly been humbled as I learn that my plans are not as set in stone as I brought myself to think. I believe this was a necessary wakeup, however, and am eager to see the ways my plans continue to change. I began last year as a student at the University of Denver, studying English Education and enrolled in the dual degree program with Morgridge College of Education to get my masters in Curriculum Development and earn my teaching license. Today, one year later, I am sitting in Dolores Colorado as an 8th grade English teacher and a graduate student at Fort Lewis College for an MA in Education. What I really want to highlight today though is the in between. Starting what would be my last year in Denver, I was incredibly hopeful about the future and the state of the world. Even though classes were still online, I could live in the city, go to my job, and continue building relationships with my friends which all felt normal, or the closest thing to normal in a long time. At the beginning of October, a close family member fell incredibly ill, and I decided to take the time off of my job to go home in order to help my parents with the situation. This opportunity was one of the many hidden blessings of the state of my schooling as I had the flexibility to stay on top of school while living at home for a couple weeks. While this period was full of a lot of heartache, it reintroduced me to my home and showed me the large portion of my heart that was still firmly planted in this place, no matter how hard I had tried to uproot it throughout my time in Denver. It is these unexpected moments that give us pause to reflect on our lives, priorities, and futures. What did I want my life to be like in five years? Where did I truly desire my priorities to be? The answers to questions such as this were ones I was only then ready to internalize. I have had a habit of turning my life and my happiness away from what I know deeply to be true and instead toward the things I believe others want from me or the expectations I assume they hold. I was finally ready to let go of this and accept who I was with no holds. I was not happy living in a big city. I was not fulfilled living away from my family. I was not living in a way that fit with what I wanted in my life. It was scary to know these things while having a hard time understanding practical ways I could make changes to bring my life closer to this picture I had in my mind. Through research and the course of about a week, I found an alternative to the graduate program I was currently enrolled in, pulled out of the program I was in, and declared my graduation for the following March. I felt so much peace over these changes which would allow me to live in my small town, close to my family, while still pursuing my goals of being an educator. Looking back now, it is difficult to find the reason why I was so timid to pursue a more simple, slow pace of life near my family. I do not understand the stigma that I, and many people I know, hold about living where we grew up or not following through with what is considered a more high-profile career path. The engraining of these things in my brain kept me from happiness and being who I am, and I feel grateful to have resources to support the pursuit of this level of happiness that I can now achieve. Our paths are all different, change is good, and it is important to be authentic with our unique passions. I hope this is an encouragement for anyone reading that it is okay to change your path many times because it will lead you to where you are supposed to be. Use this time and the flexibility we are afforded to discover who you are and what you want your life to look like in five years. The people around you will love and support you because you are doing what is right for you and that joy you achieve will be what it is all about....

DENVER, May 20, 2021 — The Boettcher Foundation today announced that it is recognizing a group of standout Colorado teachers for their exemplary influence in educating some of the state’s top students. As part of the Boettcher Scholarship Program, which provides Colorado’s most talented students with scholarships to attend a Colorado college or university, the Boettcher Foundation also honors the teachers who have committed themselves to supporting the high-achieving students who compete for the scholarship. “Teachers bring education to life for young people,” said Tiffany Anderson, director of programs at the Boettcher Foundation. “They provide motivation, inspiration, and a commitment to excellence that their students experience and we get to hear about every year when we interview candidates. The life-long influence of these educators is immeasurable." This year’s teacher honorees were selected by the 100 finalists for the Boettcher Scholarship. Each educator will receive a plaque, a personalized tribute from the student who selected them, and a $500 grant to be used for a project or activity to benefit students at their school. “These dedicated and passionate educators have championed leadership in their classrooms, and we are proud to recognize them for helping Colorado students to achieve their goals and prepare for their futures,” Anderson said. A complete list of the 2021 Teacher Recognition Award recipients follows. About the Boettcher Foundation: At the Boettcher Foundation, we believe in the promise of Colorado and the potential of Coloradans. Every day we champion excellence across our state by investing in our most talented citizens and high-potential organizations, because supporting their hard work and leadership will enable them to give back for years to come. 2021 Teacher Recognition Award Recipients School District High School Educator Name Denver County 1 Abraham Lincoln High School Greg Gallegos Alamosa RE-11J Alamosa High School Matthew Relyea Private Alexander Dawson School Melissa Barker Durango 9-R Animas High School Kyle Edmondson South Conejos RE-10 Antonito High School David Jackson Jefferson County R-1 Arvada West High School Christine Fry Jefferson County R-1 Arvada West High School Lindsey Welsh Boulder Valley RE-2 Boulder High School Ryan O'Block Canon City RE-1 Canon City High School Steven Carter Douglas County RE-1 Castle View High School Michael Schneider Brush RE-2 Cedaredge High School Craig Cerise Cherry Creek 5 Cherokee Trail High School Julie Scheffel Cherry Creek 5 Cherry Creek High School David Rowe Cherry Creek 5 Cherry Creek High School Jodi Best Private Colorado Springs School David Benson Jefferson County R-1 Columbine High School Eric Friesen Jefferson County R-1 Conifer High School Jeremy Barnett Denver County 1 Denver East High School Thomas Anderson Denver County 1 Denver East High School Casey Hudson Denver County 1 Denver School of Science & Technology: Montview Kateri Williams Denver County 1 Denver School of Science & Technology: Green Valley Ranch Evan Goodrich Denver County 1 Denver School of the Arts Mark Mallaney Denver County 1 Denver South High School Kyle Dobbins Denver County 1 Denver South High School Jennifer Rinaldi Durango 9-R Durango High School Kristina Bruton Englewood 1 Englewood High School Phil Emery St. Vrain Valley RE 1J Erie High School Greta von Bernuth Boulder Valley RE 2 Fairview High School David Rutherford Poudre R-1 Fort Collins High School Enrique Blas Poudre R-1 Fossil Ridge High School Todd Pfeifer Mesa County Valley 51 Fruita Monument High School Trent Wuster Adams-Arapahoe 28J Gateway High School Nicole Burdick Denver County 1 George Washington High School Joseph Bolz Denver County 1 George Washington High School Richard Leeds Mapleton 1 Global Leadership Academy Christine Patten Mesa County Valley 51 Grand Junction Central High School Sarah Keen Garfield 16 Grand Valley High School Jason Arthur Cherry Creek 5 Grandview High School William Baird Greeley 6 Greeley Central High School Flor Varela Greeley 6 Greeley Central High School Steven Burch Greeley 6 Greeley West High School Beth Dent Greeley 6  Greeley West High School Lea Sanford Harrison 2 Harrison Wesley Brown Adams 12 Five Star Schools Horizon High School Steve Lash Jefferson County R-1 Jefferson Academy High School  Mary Ferbrache East Otero R-1 La Junta High School Kellie Buhr East Otero R-1 La Junta High School Julia Barta Lake County R-1 Lake County High School Karl Remsen Jefferson County R-1 Lakewood High School Whitney Barnes Adams 12 Five Star Schools Legacy High School Matthew Cirbo Lone Star 101 Lone Star Undivided High School Saralynn Vetter Thompson R2-J Loveland High School Gregory Morrison Thompson R2-J Loveland High School Rebecca Lewis Thompson R2-J Loveland High School Christine Marshall St. Vrain Valley RE 1J Lyons Middle/Senior High School Jeffrey Klipstein Denver County 1 Manual High School Whitney Weathers Denver County 1 Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College Heather Williams St. Vrain Valley RE 1J Mead High School Chris Reynolds St. Vrain Valley RE 1J Mead High School Benjamin Holskin Buffalo RE-4J Merino High School Luann Koester Boulder Valley RE 2 Monarch High School Kathleen Hein Douglas County RE 1 Mountain Vista High School Heather Riggs Adams 12 Five Star Schools Northglenn High School Kathryn Zaleski Adams 12 Five Star Schools Northglenn High School Kasey Nunn Montrose County RE-1J Olathe High School Cheryl Jackson Cherry Creek 5 Overland High School Kara Billings Cherry Creek 5 Overland High School Kara Billings Mesa County Valley 51 Palisade High School Laura Meinzen Colorado Springs 11 Palmer High School Robert Gilliam Lewis-Palmer 38 Palmer Ridge High School Tyler Dall Boulder Valley RE 2 Peak to Peak Charter School Jake Lehr Boulder Valley RE 2 Peak to Peak Charter School Kurt Schaefer Boulder Valley RE 2 Peak to Peak Charter School Meghan Lukens Boulder Valley RE 2 Peak to Peak Charter School Elizabeth Tarbutton Boulder Valley RE 2 Peak to Peak Charter School Jake Lehr Colorado Springs 11 Peetz Plateau High School Brian Kurz Academy 20 Pine Creek High School Valerie Babbitt Academy 20 Pine Creek High School Maria Boyczuk Academy 20 Pine Creek High School April Pierce Platte Valley RE-7 Platte Valley High School Julie Thomas Jefferson County R-1 Pomona High School Gillian Lange-Kemper School District 27J Prairie View High School Veronica Randall Pueblo City 60 Pueblo South High School Karen Olson Academy 20 Rampart High School Gregory Andersen Private Resurrection Christian School Christopher Krueger Roaring Fork RE-1 Roaring Fork High School Matt Wells Poudre R-1 Rocky Mountain High School Kelsey Mauch Johnston-Milliken RE-5J Roosevelt High School Leticia Garcia Salida R-32 Salida High School Heidi Slaymaker Centennial R-1 San Luis Centennial High School Helen Seay Sheridan 2 Sheridan High School Kelly Landgraf St. Vrain Valley Re 1J Skyline High School Amanda Giulani Mapleton 1 Skyview Academy Kirsten Schuman Cherry Creek 5 Smoky Hill High School Thomas Tafoya Steamboat Springs RE-2 Steamboat Springs High School Deirdre Boyd Strasburg 31J Strasburg High School Cliff Smith Denver County 1 STRIVE Prep -- RISE Anna Steed Denver County 1 Thomas Jefferson High School Amber Wilson Thompson R2-J Thompson Valley High School Jon Cooley Greeley 6 University High School JoEll Matthews Greeley 6 University High School Beryldell Parker Westminster Public Schools - District 50 Westminster High School Kathleen Herter Westminster Public Schools - District 50 Westminster High School Josh Linenberger Widefield 3 Widefield High School Emily Molina Windsor Re-4 Windsor High School Phil Weiser Wray RD-2 Wray High School Angela DePue  ...

Boettcher Scholar Dante Disharoon and Boettcher Investigator Dr. Keith Neeves have worked together since 2014. Dr. Neeves, a professor in the Departments of Bioengineering and Pediatrics at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus has served as an advisor and mentor to Disharoon, who recently received his PhD from the Colorado School of Mines. Given their long history (for a student and professor) we thought it would be fun to find out how well they know each other, so we posed a series of rapid-fire questions. Here are their responses:   Who would play Dr. Neeves in a movie? Disharoon: Jake Gyllenhaal Who would play Dante in a movie: Dr. Neeves: Keanu Reeves: What are three words you would use to describe the other person: Dr. Neeves: Kind, intelligent and hard working Disharoon:  Erudite, sarcastic and diligent What do you most admire about the other person? Disharoon: “I most admire that while he is doing very intense work he always keeps a sense of humor about it, and he never gets caught up in frustration that can develop.” Dr. Neeves: “I am most impressed with Dante’s work ethic. I would put him at top of list of people I have had work for me. When someone is working this hard, you respect it, you just have a lot of reverence for it.” What do you think the other person would cite as their greatest accomplishment? Disharoon – “I think Dr. Neeves would say that his greatest accomplishment is graduating so many trainees who have gone to be very successful.” Dr. Neeves –“ I’m sure his greatest accomplishment is in the future, but even the growth I’ve seen in the last five or six years has been remarkable.” What do you think the other person would pick if they could choose one superpower? Dr. Neeves: “The ability to manipulate or slow down time.” Disharoon – “I think Dr. Neeves would want the lack of need to sleep. Basically, endless energy.” What is one key lesson you learned from the other person: Disharoon: “Well, I think Dr. Neeves prides himself on being able to ask the right questions and in research, learning how to ask good questions is better than learning how to provide good answers. So, I think I always do my best to think about what kinds of questions Dr. Neeves would ask about a certain data set. And hopefully I've gotten a little bit better at it over the last few years.” Dr. Neeves: “That it really is very much a partnership. When we meet every week and we sort of discuss what's going on, I feel like everyone is pitching in and challenging each other and you know, the product gets better that way.”...

By Erika Gonzalez After more than a decade of running research laboratories at the Colorado School of Mines and University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, Dr. Keith Neeves can easily spot the students well-suited for life in the lab. Those with tenacity and a good attitude tend to cope better with the failures researchers frequently experience. “Doing research is an enterprise for people who don’t mind failing. It’s for people who have a lot of curiosity, and their curiosity is able to get them past the stumbling blocks and a lot of repeated failure,” explains Neeves, a 2010 Boettcher Investigator and professor in the Departments of Bioengineering and Pediatrics at Anschutz. Boettcher Scholar Dante Disharoon proved he fit the profile on his very first day on the job. At the time, Disharoon was an undergraduate at Mines, majoring in chemical and biological engineering and minoring in computer science. Disharoon’s first task in Dr. Neeves’ lab was to address an expensive technical issue. The software for the lab’s high-powered Olympus microscopes had become outdated and upgrading to a new license was going to cost Dr. Neeves a small fortune. Dr. Neeves charged Disharoon with installing an open source-solution in hopes of saving money. Although other students in the lab had been unable to get the microscopes to connect to the free software, Disharoon thought it was worth another try. The result? “I think he (Dr. Neeves) ended up still shelling out money for a new software subscription,” says Disharoon, laughing a bit at his somewhat inauspicious start. Luckily, the software mishap was a small bump in the road to academic success for Disharoon. Seven years after landing in Dr. Neeves’ lab, Disharoon has earned a master’s degree and PhD in chemical and biological engineering, racking up awards and substantial grant funding along the way. In September, he will embark on a postdoctoral fellowship at Case Western University. While hard work and dedication contributed to these achievements, Disharoon has also been blessed with strong mentors and the opportunity to work on a cutting-edge research project that has guided his post-graduate studies. His work has laid the foundation for a groundbreaking new drug delivery system to fight blood clots. With Dr. Neeves and Dr. Dave Marr, a professor at Mines, Disharoon has published scientific papers on the innovative treatment, which involves injecting a patient with “microbots.” Shaped like tiny wheels, the microbots are coated with clot-busting agents and driven by magnetic fields toward the clot to dissolve it. The project has been awarded a patent and the trio have shared their research at conferences across the United States and Europe. The project was in its early stages when Disharoon joined the effort in 2014. Dr. Marr, a Gaylord & Phyllis Weaver Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Mines, had recruited Disharoon to work in his lab and Dr. Neeves’ lab, as he had proven to be creative and proficient at hands-on lab work. They also needed someone who would be unafraid to tackle something a little more unconventional. “We were looking to do something really different. There’s certainly a higher risk and also a higher reward involved in that at some level,” says Dr. Marr, who noted that students at the university are more often drawn to research in the petro-chemical field because the pipeline to jobs is more obvious. But Disharoon’s natural interest in biochemical engineering and his background in computer science made him a perfect fit -- the group needed someone to develop software to direct the microwheels as well as a process to analyze the data. “This was basically a new invention, so it was a steep learning curve for all of us,” acknowledges Dr. Neeves. “It was much different than the classroom environment where you have knowledge, and you are trying to imbue it on students.” Disharoon had initially worked in the lab as an undergraduate research fellow. After he earned his degree, he transitioned into a job as a systems analyst with a local music store. Within six months, Dr. Marr reached out again to see if Disharoon would be willing to collect more data to show the medical community that their research had potential. By 2017, the group had published its first paper on the use of microwheels to dissolve dangerous blood clots, which also became the basis for Disahroon’s master thesis. A year later, the research earned a $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, which helped fund Disharoon’s further work in the lab. Meanwhile, Disharoon expanded and built on the group’s work. He won an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship for a proposal to improve the efficacy of the microbot treatment by using the microwheels to simultaneously deliver multiple clot-dissolving drugs. “One of the things I really admire about Dante is that he has a fearlessness about the problems he tackles. I don’t know if it’s my personality or my age, but sometimes you get more conservative about the things you are willing to take on and Dante really pushed us into a new direction,” Dr. Neeves says. “I don’t think I can say that about every student I’ve had. He really carved his own niche.” The group’s work was certainly not without its challenges. Disharoon says he has struggled with skepticism from others in the field about the impact of the data since the treatment hasn’t been tested on animals or humans yet. Those studies were supposed to begin last year at Anschutz, but were significantly delayed because of the pandemic. Dr. Neeves’ lab was closed for about six months. Because access to the lab at Mines was also limited, Disharoon was forced to switch gears, working on computational models that could be programmed from home. COVID-19 also caused Disharoon to earn his PhD a semester late, though it was time he didn’t mind losing. He was committed to seeing some of the elements of the project through to completion. The ball is now in Dr. Neeves’ court, as he will oversee the translational studies of the treatment in animals. If that process proves successful, the project could move to a clinical trial with humans. The goal is to use the treatment to improve current therapy for ischemic stroke, which is commonly caused by blood clots and is treated by inserting a catheter into an artery to remove the clot or by injecting clot-dissolving drugs. Unfortunately, the drugs must be given within three hours of when a patient exhibits stroke symptoms to be effective, while the catheter treatment typically works best in clots involving larger arteries. In fact, 25% of strokes are lacunar strokes, which are located in small arteries of the brain inaccessible to catheters. Disharoon, who will soon study new diagnostic tools for bleeding disorders, says he plans to follow the project’s progress. “I hope that it works. I really hope it doesn’t stall out. The team of people working on it is very dedicated so I look forward to reading the papers that emerge, so I can keep track of the project as it’s developed,” Disharoon says. Dr. Marr says the project has already made a big impact in scientific circles and helped officials at Mines recognize the need for a bioengineering program. “The idea of using microbots to cure disease will be very important as we move forward and you need people who will move those ideas to the forefront and challenge what is possible,” Dr. Marr said....

Share a little bit about your personal and educational background and career goals. One of the reasons I was inspired to help create the Summer Research Training Programs (SRTP) at CU Anschutz is due to having participated in summer programs like this one and realizing the impact they had on me in making the decision to pursue an MD/PhD. No one in my family is a physician or a researcher, and during my undergraduate years at Amherst College I often felt that many of my classmates already had a leg up because they already knew how to navigate the landscape of applying to graduate or medical schools. Participating in summer programs like SRTP, such as the Summer Internship Program at NIH and their postbaccalaureate training program, were crucial to my being able to successfully navigate applying and entering a Medical Scientist (MD/PhD) Training Program. Currently, I am currently a 6th year student in the program and am studying human taste as well as taste signal transmission in Dr. Thomas Finger’s lab. I would ultimately like to be a pediatric neurologist, and I also have a strong interest in education particularly in promoting participation of students who have been historically underrepresented in science. Usually, I am the only person of color in a room, and one of my goals is to help change that experience for those who are coming up along the undergraduate to graduate school pipeline.   Students of color, low-income, and first-generation college students are underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. What does the research say with regard to why? Systemic inequality affects students across all the spectra of underrepresented groups, including those of color, low-income, first generation, and rural students. These students are more likely to lack access to the resources and opportunities needed for them to successfully navigate a career in the biomedical sciences or even know that this exists as a possibility. At Anschutz, the composition of the graduate programs mirrors that of many graduate programs in the United States which do not reflect equitable representation within the university (AMC Graduate School Diversity Report, 6/30/2020). As a means of addressing inclusivity at the graduate student level, the overarching goal for the SRTP is to fulfill the needs of students historically underrepresented in biomedical sciences throughout their progression along the undergraduate-to-graduate school pipeline. This includes providing high-quality research experiences in the labs at CU Anschutz, professional development opportunities, and longitudinal mentorship. Our program’s focus on local recruitment allows us to offer longitudinal opportunities and training, both of which are critical to meaningfully address underrepresentation in biomedical fields.   As you know, getting quality research experience in a lab often correlates with a competitive medical school or post graduate health sciences program application. Talk about the lab experiences your students are receiving as part of the Summer Scholars Program and the difference and impact that experience can have for students early in their undergraduate careers. Each of our students is paired with a principal investigator who serves as their primary mentor for the summer, and they have additional graduate student or postdoctoral fellow as mentors as well. With their mentors, the students work on summer research projects as a means of cultivating their critical thinking and technical skills. Mentors are also encouraged to work with their mentees to incorporate their unique perspective into their projects. For example, we have a Native American student who, as part of a project on music therapy in Parkinson's patients, inspired her mentor to expand on a Neurologic Music Therapy study to incorporate traditional indigenous music as part of the technique. This example highlights one of our core beliefs that increased diversity on the Anschutz campus can only enhance the breadth of research that is performed.   This is your first year operating the Summer Scholars Program. Tell me about the program structure, activities, and the experiential components that the students are engaging with? Our approach to administering these programs mimics the operational style of the NIH’s Intramural Research Training Awards: applicants complete one application routed to specific institutes, which have unique administrations for their trainees. Similarly, SRTP applicants complete one application and are considered for training slots across participating graduate school programs, called “research tracks”. This simplifies the process for these students to explore their interest in biomedical research and pursue longitudinal experiences. This year, we launched two tracks - one in Neuroscience and another for students interested in Physician-Scientist (MD/PhD, MSTP) careers. Being able to start with two tracks was only possible due to the efforts of the ten MD/PhD and graduate students working together across two teams as well as our partnership with Erin Golden, the Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Activities at CU Denver. The hope is to add more tracks each year that span the range of biomedical research fields. As a whole, the SRTP is designed to address the various components needed for a successful application to graduate and professional schools. The primary activity is research experience in which students help design and complete research experiments, learn scientific technical skills, and build relationships with graduate-level scientists in the lab. In addition to the lab component, we have weekly seminars in which students learn career development skills, including science communication, networking, and building resiliency. Their experience culminates in a poster session in which they present their summer research project and is attended by faculty, staff, and students at CU Anschutz. We also have hosted career panels for the students so that they are educated about the breadth of biomedical career opportunities. One of our most important endeavors has been to create opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction and mentorship, as it is crucial for students - particularly those from underrepresented groups - to form lasting relationships and a community of like-minded scholars.   What have been some of your learnings and successes with the inaugural cohort of 17 students? This program has its roots as a shared vision between MD/PhD and graduate students at Anschutz in which undergraduate students from groups historically underrepresented in biomedical sciences are able to not only gain research experiences in the labs at Anschutz but to also build a community as they progress along the undergraduate to graduate school pipeline. Because this type of program was new to those of us creating it, we quickly had to learn to coordinate across multiple teams, delegate our responsibilities and engage across all the academic and administrative levels of the university - from principal investigators to the financial officers in the graduate school. This type of experiential learning has been incredibly helpful for us as it has allowed us to learn more about stepping into our future roles as leaders and mentors in academia. Our real success has been in the formation of an SRTP community among the undergraduates who have come to campus this summer as well as in all the groups - students and faculty alike - who have worked hard to get this program running. We’ve seen the SRTP students convening together on the quad and sharing their experiences with each other - one of our students even offered to be a student ambassador for SRTP at her institution now that she has completed the program! We are now adding this as a component for our alumni network. Community building is a crucial part of our mission because of how detrimental feelings of isolation can be among underrepresented populations, and we want to address this early on in the undergraduate to graduate school pipeline.   What are your goals for the program going forward as you think about impact and sustainability? The SRTP is designed to be a flagship program for undergraduate biomedical research at CU Anschutz that spans multiple departments and disciplines in an effort to improve accessibility for undergraduates interested in biomedical research careers. As part of this, we have created the SRTP Alumni program, which serves students who have already participated in SRTP, and manages our alumni who are continuing to work at Anschutz past the summer. We have several students this year who will continue to work part-time in their host labs throughout the school year because of their summer research experience. The alumni program also provides continuing education and programming as these students proceed along the undergraduate to graduate school pipeline. We believe that by providing our students with a complete mentorship experience - that is, one that includes research experience, professional opportunities, application assistance, etc. - they will be ideally positioned to succeed in biomedical careers. ...

DENVER, August 5, 2021 — The Boettcher Foundation is excited to announce the first cohort of Fellows to participate in its new Doers & Difference Makers Fellowship. The Fellowship, a component of the Foundation’s COLead Initiative, aims to bring together community champions from across Colorado in order to elevate them and grow their potential as contributors to our state’s leadership landscape. “Every one of these individuals has the ambition and drive to improve our state,” said Katie Kramer, president and CEO of the Boettcher Foundation. “They truly represent the promise of Colorado and potential of Coloradans. Our goal is to connect them with other Colorado leaders and ultimately augment their impact.” The nine-month Fellowship experience will launch later this month in Denver. The 2021 Fellows come from a variety of backgrounds, sectors, and geographic regions; though they are all unique, they have in common a determination to influence their communities through their service and courageous leadership. The Fellows are listed as follows: Brisa Chavez Lead Educator and Hispanic Engagement Coordinator, Garfield County Public Health Rifle Trisha Herman Executive Director, Phillips County Economic Development Holyoke Sherrell Lang Educator and Co-founder, Kwiyagat Community Academy (first charter school on Ute Mountain Reservation) Towaoc Azarel Madrigal-Chase Program Director, Southwest Community Fund Alamosa Mathew Mendisco Town Manager of Hayden Hayden Adrian Mendoza Assistant Director of Advisement, Denver Scholarship Foundation Denver The COLead Initiative is the Boettcher Foundation’s effort to build a connected, inclusive, and accessible leadership ecosystem in Colorado. The Foundation has a long history of supporting human capital through its scholarship program and other grantmaking. “This work is a continuation of our 84+ year history,” Kramer said. “COLead represents our strategic approach to elevate community champions, strengthen leadership networks, and convene stakeholders in a collaborative way.” About the Boettcher Foundation: At the Boettcher Foundation, we believe in the promise of Colorado and the potential of Coloradans. Every day we champion excellence across our state by investing in talented citizens and high-potential organizations, because supporting their hard work and leadership will enable them to give back for years to come. First row: Brisa Chavez, Trisha Herman, Sherrell Lang Second row: Azarel Madrigal-Chase, Mathew Mendisco, Adrian Mendoza ...

By Noah Hirshorn, 2016 Boettcher Scholar and 2020 Colorado College Graduate How did you hear the news that you won the Boettcher? It seems that this question is the quintessential icebreaker when meeting a new Boettcher Scholar. Stories may involve waiting for the mail to come every single day after the interview. Others reflect on coming home to their parents who handed them a letter that had visibly been resealed. I received a call one morning, toothbrush in mouth, and still answered because I thought it was spam. Spoiler alert, it was not spam. We reflect on this moment as the start of our journey as Boettcher Scholars. Yes, being a Boettcher is a lifelong honor and commitment; however, it can’t be understated that earning an undergraduate degree closes the chapter on the time we spend as Boettcher Scholars. Simultaneously, the door opens to the Boettcher Alumni Community. But doors don’t open on their own. In other words, transitioning to post-college life is difficult and requires work. Whether it is determining what do after college, figuring out where to live, or reconciling what it means to be a life-long Boettcher there is a lot to think about when graduating. Today, I want to shine some light on what it was like for a recent Boettcher scholar to make that transition and step through the door to alumni life. “Hey Noah, what are you doing after college?” – Literally Everyone I constantly questioned what type of career I wanted to pursue while at Colorado College. Lawyer, doctor, professional hiker, and anything in between were all viable options. Because I enjoyed being outside and found science interesting, I decided to major in environmental science with a concentration in chemistry. Say that five times fast. More specifically, I thought that something in the realm of atmospheric sciences would be an interesting path to pursue. Taking an atmospheric thermodynamics course affirmed this hunch and encouraged me to pursue opportunities in graduate school. I liked atmospheric science and many jobs in the field require courses only available to graduate students. During my senior year, I applied and decided to attend the University of Utah for my degree in atmospheric sciences. The Boettcher Foundation’s unwavering support made attending graduate school an easy decision because I felt that I was making the Foundation proud. To all you who are reading this out there, please know that you have made the Foundation proud throughout your pursuits. One thing I have learned is that the Foundation will always support the Boettcher Scholar community. All they ask for in return is that we stay in touch, live our lives with a purpose, and maybe connect with a few Boettcher Scholars here and there. I know I am looking forward to a day when a current Boettcher Scholar comes to me for advice. “We need Colorado’s most dynamic thinkers, doers, and difference makers to stay in Colorado so they can positively impact communities across our state” – Boettcher Foundation One of the primary goals of the foundation is to keep Colorado’s best and brightest in Colorado, at least for college. Afterwards, there is no contract keeping us tied to Colorado. It still felt weird to leave Colorado after attending college on a scholarship meant to keep us in the state. Becoming an out of state Boettcher alumni was one of the aspects of transitioning to post-college life that challenged me to think about my role as a Coloradan. To reconcile with this thought, I reflected on what it truly means to have an impact on Colorado. In today’s world where everything is a click away and an airplane can get us anywhere in a matter of hours, it is evident that residing in Colorado is not required to impact the state. For example, yes, I live in Utah. Yes, I hope Utah wins against CU in football this fall. But attending the University of Utah presents unique opportunities to focus my research on Colorado. I work in a team of scientists that is focused on understanding atmospheric chemistry in the western US. The primary research facility I utilize is Storm Peak Laboratory on top of Steamboat Springs Ski Resort where I aim to understand how emissions from the forests on the mountain impact the formation of atmospheric particles. Out of all the schools I applied to, this was the best opportunity to focus my research on Colorado. It is fulfilling to have a continuous impact on Colorado even though it was best for me to move to Utah. As a Boettcher Scholar, you do have to attend school in Colorado. As a Boettcher Alumni, you have full autonomy to decide what path you want to take and how you continue to impact Colorado. It is important to consider how you can remain connected to Colorado regardless of where you call home. “I know that I do not know” - Socrates  Just because I graduated does not mean I have figured everything out. Will I end up pursuing a master’s or Ph.D.? What is the next step after graduate school? What will I have for dinner tonight (seriously, please send suggestions)? I have come to accept that it is completely okay to not know exactly what the future holds. It is not my job to have everything entirely figured out. As a Boettcher, my job is to always be the best I can be and to look for ways to give back to the community around me. That is the essence of being not just a Boettcher Scholar, but also a Boettcher Alum. If you ask a Boettcher Scholar the story of how they started their lives post-college, I guarantee that you will hear a different story each time. Today, you read my story of graduating and moving on to the next pursuit. I hope that by reading this you were able to reflect on what it was like for you to take your first steps after graduation. It is an honor to be a part of the Boettcher community and I hope that we may meet at events in the future....

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2000 Hometown: Flagler College(s), Degree(s): Colorado State University: BS in Soil and Crop Science, 2004; MS in Plant Breeding and Genetics, 2006; PhD in Weed Science, 2009 Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I'm an Associate Professor at Colorado State University, where I conduct research and teaching on weed science. I am fascinated by how weeds adapt and evolve to the toughest environments and to every single method we try to use to manage them. I love the process of scientific discovery, finding new insights and how that new knowledge can be applied to helping farmers and land managers with their weed management issues. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Being a Boettcher Scholar had such a huge impact on my career! Because of the financial support, I was able to explore unpaid undergrad research projects that helped me find my interest in plant science. I also found my passion for international work through the study abroad program when I was supported to study in Australia. I later did post-docs in Australia and Germany that helped me gain a large international collaborative network. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. Through my work at CSU, I get to spend time with the state and regional farmer groups for wheat, sugar beet, and corn, listening to their issues, designing new projects to address problems, and delivering the latest information on weed management. Outside of work, I like to donate blood to the local blood bank and this summer I've joined a pickle ball league! What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? The best advice I've received is that a scientist has to be an effective writer. Whether it's grant proposals, project reports, or publications, I spend so much of my time writing and editing. I would advise current graduates entering science to take scientific writing and communication courses/workshops, and to find a good mentor to help them continually improve their writing. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I would love to have dinner with Rosalind Franklin! She conducted the critical work to discover the DNA double helix structure, but she was not recognized with the Nobel prize for her contributions. I study DNA every day and I would have so many questions for her! I'd also want her to know that history now recognizes her achievements....

A Parent’s Pride – By Jennifer Meyers Let me just start by saying – our daughter is amazing! (But what parent doesn’t think that, right?) From the moment she was born, her dad and I knew we were in for quite the journey with her. For one thing, in the moments after her birth she hardly cried. Just stared at us with these huge, startlingly blue eyes. Since that day I’ve often said to others, “Aly sees the world from a unique and beautiful perspective. Her world is a spectacular place, and someday I’d like to live in it!” She has a gift for drilling straight to the heart of injustice, irony, and hypocrisy; but she also sees with amazing clarity the beauty, the inspiration, and the optimism. So, when she told her father and I that she was a lesbian, we were neither disappointed nor surprised. We simply thought, “Okay, we’ve reached a new path in her life’s journey.” I know that on the surface this is not the most enthusiastic response, but let me explain. Aly came out to us around the age of 12, which she recalls as a series of messy but necessary conversations with her parents, a pivotal time for her. For us it was different. You see, what she didn’t know was that her father and I had already had years’ worth of late-night conversations, contemplating the various futures for our children. Including asking, “What if one of our daughters is gay?  Does it change her future? Does it change our love for her?” And the biggest surprise to us was that the answer to these questions turned out to be “yes”. As a lesbian, Aly’s future will be fraught with challenges to her identity from those who believe personal freedoms and personal choice only apply to those who look and act like them. She’ll face a double whammy of discrimination, as a woman and a lesbian. She’ll have to put up with lewd comments from young men who think they can “turn” her. She’ll face a world that isn’t designed to connect two lesbian soulmates. Having a child with her soulmate, if they choose to have one, could be challenging. So yes, it does change her future. It will be different from what straight women experience. No less wonderful, but different nonetheless. Does the fact that she’s lesbian change our love for her? YES – our love for her is all the more intense knowing that despite these many challenges, she’s bravely come forth at such a young age to face them head on with courage, with pride, with maturity, and with composure. She knows who she is, and she’s not afraid to live the life she was destined for. Amazing! She’s our daughter – a writer, a poet, a lover of animals, an athlete, a great big sister — and a lesbian. And we are so proud!   A Child’s Pride – By Aly Meyers When I came out to my parents, nothing really changed at first; coming out to them was a gradual process that took about a year. I told them when it was relevant and moved on. Life didn’t stop, World War 3 didn’t start, the only difference was that I was a little bit more my authentic self. However, coming out doesn’t mean that you suddenly start being real. It doesn’t mean that you immediately buy a pride flag and get into politics. After being in the closet for so long, it is hard to find your way out. It’s like having one foot outside of the closet and the other foot inside, still in the dark but having seen some of the light. Keeping up a façade for so long made it hard to distinguish what was a fabrication of identity and what was really me. I didn’t talk about the girls that I had crushes on, I didn’t tell them when I started dating them, and I didn’t talk about LGBTQ issues. I didn’t share my life with them even though I may have wanted to. Don’t cry for me, though. Eventually I found my way out of that dank closet. After all, it was cramped, smelly, and quite lonely in there. It is a moment of realization queer people have, where you come to accept that it does not matter if people are uncomfortable with your sexuality. People’s opinions about you are entirely their business and therefore their problem. It was never up to queer youth to make allowances for others. Even after coming to that realization, though, all of the slurs and news stories and laws and speeches and other hateful crap weighs on you. It can be lonely. It can be scary. And now, many of you straight readers may be asking yourselves, “How can we help?” but to be frank there is no easy solution. To all parents of LGBTQ children and anyone wishing to be a better ally, my only advice for you would be to have an open mind. My parents had no problem accepting that I was gay and sometimes they do not understand everything (that is to be expected), but what is important is that they listen to me. As a young lesbian, that is all I will ever ask of the older generations: to be open to new ideas and willing to listen to things that might make you uncomfortable. And, like my mom, be a superhero. ...

By Alex Gordon I am filled with a tremendous sense of gratitude and hope as I watch my eldest son graduate from high school and set out into the next chapter of his life. He spent the last four years attending George Washington High School, a school that has a long history and has been going through its own rebirth over the last decade. As a product of Denver Public Schools along with my wife, we are supporters of a strong public-school system and the power of a diverse student body. He chose the school as it felt just right, and little did we know that it was a place where he would find his tribe and ultimately himself. Within the first few weeks of his freshman year, he was cast in a version of Romeo and Juliet set not in fair Verona but in unfair 1920s Chicago where Mugsy and Capone lead their families in a heated rivalry. While his role was minor, it was here where the beauty of this inclusive environment would welcome and support all. Before the first show, the student director read a mission statement from the thespian troupe that vowed to foster, support, and encourage the diversity and equality that today’s society is continuing to wrestle with. The audience was then treated to a wonderful rendition of the Shakespearean story while staying true to its original creator’s vision, with gender-bending roles played by non-binary actors. Our son had found his people and learned as much from his fellow artisans about humanity as any textbook or lecture could hope to convey. After four years of learning, exploration, and experimentation, our son walks out into the world with a well-rounded education in academics and life. His confidence in himself is only matched by his compassion and love for his fellow person. He embarks on his next stage with the understanding that the world is not just black or white, male or female, gay or straight, conservative or liberal, but filled with beautiful souls who will inspire him to achieve great things. We sat in amazement as he role modeled to his younger siblings what you get when you mix individual passion with a loving community, as he capped his high school career with a performance of “Sugar Daddy” by Hedwig & the Angry Inch in full drag. While I look back on four years of amazing performances and tremendous growth for our son, I am grateful for a high school administration, faculty, and community that have embraced these students for who they are and not tried to fit them into predetermined boxes of societal expectations. I am equally filled with hope that these graduates reflect the positive movement our world is making towards broader inclusion and acceptance of ALL people. There is still work to be done, but for this proud father, we are on the right path....