Author: Boettcher Foundation

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2016 Hometown:  Centennial University & Degrees: Colorado State University, B.A. in vocal music with minors in physics and mathematics, anticipated 2020. What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? During my senior year in high school, I student directed the men's choir and fell in love with teaching. I plan on becoming a high school teacher in physics, music and/or math. I would also love to compose music - one of my hobbies since high school - and continue live sound mixing, which I have done for a cappella groups around Fort Collins the last three years. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. My longest and deepest involvement has been with Bassic A Cappella, a student-run a cappella group at CSU. I love making music with my peers in this environment. I've learned how to beatbox, and I've had the chance to serve as president, music director and arranger. I have also been a Presidential Ambassador for a year now, and I look forward to leading the 15-person Presidential Ambassador team next year as the philanthropy chair. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. My family always relied on my grandpa - or Bompa, as we called him - for love, moral clarity and the bonds of family. He embodied who I hope to become, always doing the right thing, no matter how hard he had to work for it. As an example, Bompa singlehandedly provided the American troops body armor in the Middle East after 9/11. Political reasons prevented normal distribution of the armor, but my grandfather didn't rest until he made deals with companies across the world to get those troops armor. He never expected a single penny. My Bompa passed away last summer, but he is still a role model in my life and always will be. What's the best advice you've ever received? “Whatever seems the most urgent is not always the most important.” Dr. Tony Frank, chancellor of the CSU system, shared these thought-provoking words in a special meet-and-greet with the CSU Presidential Ambassadors. Dr. Frank told a story about statewide budget cuts and how the CSU staff were so focused on fixing that problem they almost skipped a children's holiday caroling for the CSU president. In that moment, the budget seemed urgent, but those kids' dreams were more important. This distinction between urgent and important has been and continues to be paramount in my life. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? If I could have dinner with anyone from all of history, I would choose Hildegard von Bingen. Hildegard was a medieval composer, philosopher, saint and academic widely known in a variety of disciplines. Most importantly, Hildegard von Bingen was a woman. In my music history classes, the first composer we learn about is Hildegard: a woman. She was both a composer and patron of the arts, employing many other composers. She was a radical and influential person in the 12th century, and I would love to hear her stories, experiences, and how she overcame the many struggles she faced....

Name: Kaitlin Neumann Johnson Boettcher Scholar Year: 2009 Hometown: Wray College/Degree: DU – BA English and Spanish, MBA Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation?  As of May, I have two occupations. Since 2015, I’ve worked for El Pomar Foundation. Currently, I’m in the role of vice president of community stewardship, primarily serving as a convener in the regional partnerships program through community-led advisory councils in rural areas. My favorite aspect of the El Pomar work is engaging with community leaders throughout the state. The leaders are very knowledgeable and, while each community is unique, there are some overlaps that allow them to work together and collaborate. I also just started working part-time as the economic development director for Cheyenne County. Kit Carson and Cheyenne Wells are the main towns in this county. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? For starters, I am married to a Boettcher Scholar, 2010 scholar Charlie Johnson! Also, foundations are often a lesser-known part of the nonprofit world. Working with the Boettcher Foundation opened my eyes to this other area of work. I learned about the El Pomar Foundation through another Boettcher Scholar in my class, and that opened up the career path I’m currently on. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. I’m a mom and hang out with my daughter. I also help on the ranch and participate with the Boettcher alumni group. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? It’s okay not to know what you want to do with your life. What’s not okay is to let that be your reason to do nothing! Every experience, no matter how big or small, will change you and your path. Take a risk, try something new, figure out who you want to be, and maybe more importantly, figure out who you don’t want to be. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? Cleopatra. I’ve always found her history to be remarkable and, just the fact that she is remembered today, is an impressive feat for a woman from the BC time period. She was savvy, played by her own set of rules and continues to inspire even artists, politicians, and women to this day....

Senior advisor in vaccinology at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. President of the International Society for Vaccines. Foreign adjunct professor, Karolinska Institutet. Executive vice-chair, International Vaccine Institute. Advisor to the World Health Organization. Margaret Liu has held these titles at various points in her world-renowned and varied career in the fields of gene therapy, vaccines, immunotherapy and global health. One title, however, has remained constant throughout: Boettcher Scholar. “It changed the trajectory of what I’ve done. My life and career would have been very different without it,” Margaret said of the Boettcher Scholarship. A 1973 scholar, Margaret was raised in Durango. After her father passed away suddenly, Margaret’s mother, an academic and Chinese immigrant, specifically relocated to the small town where she could raise her three young children with the benefits of a small supportive community and college. Though her older sister attended an Ivy League school, it was the Boettcher Scholarship that convinced Margaret to turn down offers from Yale and Princeton to attend Colorado College, a decision for which Margaret and her family are incredibly grateful (her younger brother Paul was also a Boettcher Scholar in 1977). At Colorado College, Margaret began to view the world and her passions through an interdisciplinary lens and students were encouraged to excel in disparate arenas. For example, she and fellow chemistry majors formed a woodwind quintet they dubbed the “Ketones” (or “Keytones”).  Her exposure to biochemistry and immunology helped her decide to attend Harvard Medical School, which she entered after furthering her piano studies at a conservatory in Paris on a Rotary scholarship. Margaret’s interdisciplinary pursuits continued through medical school, as well as during her internship, residency and clinical fellowship in endocrinology and metabolism at Massachusetts General Hospital. While primarily interested in research she also found that training in clinical medicine provided important insights for her future research efforts. “My whole career has had a dual perspective, the interface of two fields – medicine helping patients and research to find new preventions and therapies,” she said. Margaret’s first field-changing research came while a visiting scientist at MIT, where her pioneering research in bi-specific antibodies for use as cancer therapeutics was published in Science. The first bi-specific antibody treatment for human cancer was approved by the FDA in 2014, 29 years after her seminal paper was published. Soon after, at the pharmaceutical company Merck, Margaret led a team of scientists who demonstrated that the in vivo injection of plasmid DNA could result in the successful production of immune responses that could protect in pre-clinical studies against different strains of influenza. This opened the field for ongoing efforts to develop a universal flu vaccine and other future vaccines that could benefit from both cellular and antibody immunity (such as tuberculosis, HIV, and cancer immunotherapy). The discovery was so significant for current research efforts, that Discover magazine named Margaret one of its “50 Most Important Women Scientists” in 2002, and her students and colleagues began calling her “The mother of DNA vaccines.” It also resulted in her being invited by the Nobel Committee to give a lecture at the Karolinska Institutet (the Swedish medical university that selects the Nobel Prize winners in Medicine and Physiology); she received an honorary Doctor of Medicine degree from the Karolinska in 2017. After leading vaccine and gene therapy research at two companies and filing various patents, Margaret was asked to be the senior advisor in vaccinology for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This, as well as helping establish the World Health Organization’s Initiative for Vaccine Research enabled her to expand from developing technologies for global vaccines to the broader arena of global health. Today, Margaret splits her time between advising companies on strategies and technologies for developing vaccines for diseases and therapies for cancer, working with international health organizations and boards, and advising researchers and students as an adjunct professor at both the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and the University of California, San Francisco. Helping train the next generation of scientists and physicians is a particular joy, as it reminds her of how so many professors awakened her love of science and inspired her. And she is grateful to the Boettcher Foundation for helping her walk the path from small-town girl to international scientist. “Always be open to new pathways, to making this world better in terms of social equality for people here and now. To live that out is my calling.”...

Andrea Poliakon Boettcher Scholar Year: 2015 Hometown: Byers University & Degrees: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, BS Biomedical Science What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? This summer I’m heading back to Byers to work as nursing aide. Ultimately, I want to become a neonatal nurse practitioner. I’m applying for registered nurse training at CU-Anschutz, UCCS and UNC to start this fall. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. I’m the office and marketing manager for UCCS student government. I’ve enjoyed getting to know a variety of students and meeting mentors through the Office of Student Life. I like seeing how the university works behind the scenes and was able to be part of writing the UCCS Creed. I’m president and founder of UCCS scuba club, and we just got four members certified to dive at Homestead Crater in Utah. When the waters warm up, we are planning diving trips to Aurora Reservoir and Blue Hole, New Mexico. I’m also a founder and an executive member of UCCS Women’s Student Association, a group to empower women in academics, personal, professional and leadership areas. As a student athlete, I found women were often intimidated and underrepresented in competitive environments. Women athletes are often sexualized in media rather than recognized for their sports achievements. We mentor young women to be active and have better body positivity. We also recognized outstanding Colorado women, including Krystal Kappeler, a Boettcher Scholar alumni and employee of the foundation. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. At UCCS, Jon Bogh, advisor for Student Government Association, has been instrumental in shaping my leadership style and encouraging me through difficult growing times. What's the best advice you've ever received? “Life is not a race.” As high achievers, we always want to move to the next thing, and it’s difficult to be totally present in moments of achievement. It’s important to be present and savor moments as they come along.  If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? Excellent question—dinner with Abraham Lincoln. I’ve read his book on leadership and he was an incredibly influential leader....

Carlos Solorzano         Boettcher Scholar Year: 2004 Hometown: Denver, CO College/Degree: DU, BS Computer Engineering, MBA, MA Higher Education 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 the champion of our customers at StarRez. My official title is account manager, and StarRez creates housing and conference management software for universities and property managers (many scholars have likely used it to select their rooms and roommates!). I’ve been with the company for over four years now, and my favorite aspect of my role is helping customers take their organizations to a higher level of performance. Not being stuck behind a desk all day is a close second though, as I’m lucky enough to travel throughout the U.S. and Canada to connect with my accounts. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? The Boettcher program has provided me numerous opportunities to develop my skills beyond my major/job title. For example, the Boettcher coaching corps not only helped me to better understand my own professional aspirations, it has also helped me grow into a mentor role within my department and has given me the confidence to act more boldly and take risks that I would not have otherwise taken. Because I spoke up and challenged the process, I have been brought into more strategic conversations at the company that extend beyond my account manager title. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. When I am not traveling for work (or fun), I volunteer my time with the Dumb Friends League, representing the organization at special events. I also serve as a mentor at alumni events at DU’s College of Engineering and Pioneer Leadership Program, as well as the Boettcher Foundation. Finally, as a more creative outlet, I have taken up photography. 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 have ever received was understanding that true learning happens when you are in a state of discomfort. This concept has helped me to develop my resiliency and encouraged me to choose the path of greatest return, instead of the path of least resistance. My advice to others is to have a goal of where you want to end up, but not a strict path on how to get there. Those detours often help build your skills and perspective in a more holistic way, and that in turn better sets you up to tackle your end goal. My journey to working at StarRez started with writing code as an engineering student, and moved to creating business plans in business school, and finally working in student affairs at universities and academic programs across the globe before arriving at my current career. Each of those experiences helped me to more effectively collaborate with my colleagues, leadership team and customers at a global software company. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I would love to pick Anthony Bourdain’s mind. Like him, traveling and food are easy ways into my heart! But more importantly, I would love to talk with him about how he used these mediums as ways to talk about social justice and global awareness.  ...

In the midst of a Silicon Valley mindset of “move fast and break things,” David Price, a 1995 Boettcher Scholar and self-described serial tech entrepreneur, views impact through a more intentional lens. David is the co-founder of human(Ethos), a team of advisors who believe ethical theory is the key to improving leadership and organizational culture. David works alongside companies to supplant the typical tech mindset with one focused on building ethical cultures and robust teams that produce quality services and do right by customers from the beginning. “Ethical theory provides a foundation for behavior change. If you change behavior, you improve your company morale and culture. You gain customer trust. And finally, you get results; we are working to measure how ethics applied to teams drives employee retention and performance,” said David. human(Ethos) is one of many unique, entrepreneurial projects David has undertaken since graduating from CU Boulder and pursuing masters work at CU and Oxford in philosophy and bioethics. David launched his career in software and web technology in the early 2000s. Since then, he has leveraged those skills as a medical device researcher, a chief technology officer for an investment bank and a consultant to Fortune 50 companies. He also co-founded and consulted on several for-profit enterprises focused on enhancing quality of life. Being an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley is something that business students may aspire to. On the subject, however, David noted that “The most important thing about an individual is not what they do, but who they become.” “Entrepreneurship is often misconstrued as an identity or a destination. It's a mindset and a skillset separate from role or context. So 'how do I become an entrepreneur?' is the wrong question. Instead, start with the question 'who do I need to become in order to do what I want to do?' If you start the journey with this focus, and you'll end up learning the skills you need along the way,” said David. In the face of the next best opportunity or innovation, David is very intentional about his impact on the world as an entrepreneur, citizen, husband and father of three young children. In a recent role, David advised development of a supply chain analytics tool to help businesses protect against forced labor worldwide. He has also launched “We Heart Paradise,” an organization with the mission of connecting aid organizations, modular housing manufacturers and trauma therapists to help restore the community of Paradise, California, which was destroyed by wildfires in November 2018. In the past six months the volunteer-driven project has gained traction, but David is still seeking partners to support him, particularly people in the Boettcher community who have connections with humanitarian relief and housing. In addition to service, David’s faith has been a grounding force in his life. He is a practitioner of contemplative prayer and spent time with Trappist monks to understand the beauty of solitude. “The fight of our lives is to relentlessly eliminate hurry and busy,” said David. He also strives to live each day in gratitude, which leads him to reflect often on the scholarship which helped open doors for his career and life of impact. “My family did not have the financial means to support me in college. The Boettcher Scholarship was truly transformational in that it created time and opportunity for me to invest in both others and myself. It was an invitation to explore and discover, which was a process that continued throughout my twenties, the net effect for which I am still deeply grateful today.”...

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2007 Hometown: Littleton College/Degree: University of Denver; BA, International Studies and Spanish, MA, International Economics 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 a senior economist with legislative counsel staff at the Colorado State Legislature. I focus on state economy and fiscal policy for legislators and forecast the state prison population. I often write portions of the Blue Book before elections. I most enjoy TABOR (Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) work, as it is complicated, interesting and strongly affects policy. My favorite part of my job is being part of the policy making process and helping policy makers understand the likely consequences of policy they are debating. The best policy work happens when people focus on good outcomes, as opposed to partisan stands. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? I wanted to contribute to the wellbeing of the people who live in Colorado, a beautiful place to pursue happiness. Going to a great school gave me the education I needed to do my work well. My work helps legislators do their jobs as well as possible, and this helps me to meet my contribution to the State of Colorado. I’m a welcoming, “state-riotic” person. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. The thing I’ve spent the most time on over the years is volunteering as a high school debate coach and judge. Helping high school kids to think about policy is formative for them. I’ve been able to meet some brainy, often weird, but endearing young people. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? “Never lose track of the people you intend to serve.” Now at a desk job, I often interact with legislators, but not the public. The elected officials who serve are literally responsible to their constituents. I strive to remember what I do affects Coloradans, even if I don’t work with the constituents directly. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? Harriet Tubman, her life was incredible! Her perspective would speak to a part of American history that is seldom taught. I would love to hear stories from her life.  ...

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2015 Hometown: Capulin University & Degrees: Colorado School of Mines, BS in Chemical Engineering (2019) What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I am planning to go into the biomedical industry with a focus in implants and prostheses. I have recently been made aware of an opportunity to work with surgeons in an environment that allows trained personnel to assist with surgeries and advise the surgeons on how to use new devices and technology. I would love to work in this industry, as it allows me to combine my passions of helping people and engineering as it pertains to the human body. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. I have loved the small community atmosphere of the Boettcher Scholar group at Mines, and have made some very close friends within our group throughout my time here. I have enjoyed volunteering, both with organizations and on my own. I love giving back to my community and helping other people to have better experiences. I also have worked for a program that strives to strengthen the diversity of Mines. This was a program that I was able to attend in high school, and I enjoy allowing Colorado students to have the chance to have the same opportunity. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. I cannot pick one mentor, as I have had a whole support network of people without whom I would not be here today. The woman who led my first experience at Mines has always lent a listening ear, providing great advice about school and life. All of the scholar mentors I've had in the past were amazing, always ready with a comforting word, a plan of action or just a hug. I've formed bonds with professors, academic coaches and other students. If there's one thing that I've learned, it really takes a village to make a person who they are. What's the best advice you've ever received? The best advice I received was actually from a Boettcher alumni at a meet-and-greet held by the foundation. It was a message in a bottle from Raquel “Kelley” Ritz, and it was something along the lines of, "Find who and what you love, what makes you happy, and fight for it. Never settle for anything less." This resonated with me deeply and stayed with me throughout my college experience. At times the path that I had chosen was difficult, but that little quote was always in my head, pushing me through and making me keep my resolve.  If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? There are many people from history who have done amazing things, but the people I would choose would be my late family members. There are a few that passed away before I was old enough to know anything important about them. There are also a few that I was old enough to know, but had never considered that I might lose them before I really got to know them. Sometimes I think that we are just stories at the end of our lives, but those will still go on to shape those who come after us....

Rachel Walters always knew that she would enter a helping profession. Growing up with a police officer father, she appreciated the civic responsibility, unconventional shifts and poignant stories that her dad carried and shared with his family. When she won a Boettcher Scholarship in 2010, her choice to study nursing at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs was clear. Since graduating in 2014, Rachel has been living out her aspiration of helping others as a nurse and health care educator. After two years of working in a Surgical Trauma Step-down unit with victims of accidents, stabbings and shootings, Rachel became a nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver in 2016. There, she oversees care for children of all ages with the most life-threatening conditions. As a nurse, Rachel believes her profession is not just about treating patients, but also helping families heal, even when the patient can’t. It’s these moments that lend Rachel perspective and remind her of her larger purpose in life. “I see what matters, and it reminds me what is important now,” said Rachel.” And I carry a great piece of advice from my mentor, ‘Always keep small things small.’” Beyond clinical nursing, Rachel is committed to developing the next generation of health professionals and treatments. For two years, Rachel has instructed sophomore nursing students at UCCS entering their first clinical rotations – an effort she approaches with a leadership lens. “I help my students find their strengths and weaknesses and uncover the reasons behind their decisions. Good nurses are self-aware leaders and effective followers,” she said. In addition to working directly in nursing and teaching, Rachel is a clinical educator for a medical device company, and trains nurses across the country on using products for IVs, pre-analytical sample collection and diabetes treatment. This position means Rachel has limited free time outside of work to devote to yoga, exploring, paddle boarding, hiking and audiobooks. However, unlike her high school years, she has found that being busy is not the best measure of success. “In high school success was largely based on how many things I could do, and do well. Today, I know that success is building relationships with others. It’s about impacting their lives, uncovering their potential and being a small part of their victories.” Sharing victories and life with others is a common theme in how Rachel gives back. For several years, she has volunteered as a mentor with Royal Family Kids Camp, a faith-based, weeklong camp program for children in the foster care system. This summer, she is leading a group of high school students on a three-week international service trip to a developing country, where she’ll apply her nursing skills and oversee a community development project. Though uncharted territory, this international experience is something Rachel is approaching with confidence and curiosity, mindsets she attributes in part to winning the Boettcher Scholarship. “Winning the Boettcher [Scholarship] was a vote of confidence that I was capable. They believed I had talents and something to contribute, which was a message I’d struggled to believe about myself before. Now I know that with the right people around me, encouraging me, there’s not a challenge I can’t face. I can do this.”...

Margaret (Maggie) McFadden Boettcher Scholar Year: 1959 Hometown: Monte Vista College/Degree: University of Denver, BA in humanities and English; Boston University, MA in English language and literature; Emory University, PhD from the Institute of the Liberal Arts. 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 currently retired from a career in academia. I am working on my second book, which profiles six women activists between WWI and WWII. My first book Golden Cables of Sympathy is about 19th century connections between women in the U.S. and Europe. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? The scholarship gave me a sense of the importance of Colorado. I always claim Colorado as home. In academia, you are concerned about getting a job, and I couldn't always get full-time work in Colorado. An offer to work at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. came during the recession of 1975. I stayed there for 40 years. While at ASU, I started the first women's studies program in North Carolina. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. In February and March, I help people in the retirement community where I live with preparing their taxes. I also sing with the “Raging Grannies” gaggle on social topics and in the church choir. Later, I want to get back to playing the cello. In my community, I'm part of the movie committee for weekly showings of popular films, the flower committee, women's rights study group, etc. There's lots to do here. I try not to do too much! What's the best advice you've received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? I always tell students, “Don't listen to what anyone tells you to do! Listen to your passion.” If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? One would by my hero, Gerda Lerner, a historian and women's rights activist. The other would be Rachel (Ray) Strachey, an English feminist and secretary for Lady Astor, the first female member of parliament....