Alumni Board

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Boettcher Scholar Year: 2000 Hometown: Ignacio Colleges/Degree(s): Colorado College, Bachelor of Arts; San Francisco Art Institute, Master of Fine 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 an interdisciplinary artist and educator. I create images, cabinets of curiosity, and interactions to address questions about energy, water, climate, health, and microbes. My projects inform my work as an instructor and coordinator for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) related programs with the Genesis Innovation Lab at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles (since June 2018) and at the UCLA Sci | Art Nanolab Summer Institute (since July 2014). I love activating people’s curiosity and creativity as tools for exploring and ameliorating the beautiful worlds inside and around themselves, from the molecular to environmental scale. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? The Boettcher Foundation supported my vision of becoming an artist who integrates many disciplines by allowing me to attend my dream school of Colorado College, a hotbed of interdisciplinary thinking. Being a Boettcher Scholar has fueled a lifelong commitment to contribute inspiration to communities in many forms and in many places, with a special tie to Colorado. Although I am not currently based in Colorado, I return every few years both to create artistic projects in the state and to lecture at my alma maters: Ignacio High School and Colorado College. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. In 2013, I began practicing yoga to deal with stress-related health issues. To share the benefits, I recently completed a yoga teacher training, and have been imparting classes to friends, co-workers, and the general public in Echo Park, Los Angeles. My wife, Frida Cano, and I are founding members of an interdisciplinary cooperative called XOCIARTEK, through which we help organize and impart workshops and long-term projects for communities and youth in Mexico City, her hometown. We also work together building props for film and television and have created projects for 826LA, a nonprofit that helps children write stories. 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 received was from Buster Simpson, one of my mentors, who recommended not to get stuck making one definable art product or style, but to instead develop a conceptual and flexible process, to include contextual research and collaboration. I recommend that you find artists you admire and try to work for them and learn from them. Develop your vision through a daily practice, and inspire and educate others. 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 Lynn Margulis, to speak with her about her theories of endosymbiosis, the ideas that ancient microbes engulfed smaller bacteria to form partnerships that became animal and plant cells, and how the Gaia hypothesis arose from cellular musings. Physicists Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrodinger, Yogis Maharishi Yogananda and Yogi Bajan, and artists JMW Turner and Joseph Beuys would ideally be at the table, to speak with them about the energies of the universe and ways of grasping those energy patterns through inquiry, imagination, and intuition....

To wrap up the festivities of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board’s Signature Event, attendees had the opportunity to join one of six different excursions on Sunday. From a behind-the-scenes tour of Mile High Stadium, to a wildflower hike on Mt. Goliath, to a bike-and-brew tour in of Denver’s trendy River North Arts District, there certainly was something for everyone.   Wildflower Nature Hike  What a difference a day (and a few thousand feet of elevation gain...

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. Boettcher Scholar Year: 2003 Hometown: Aurora College(s), Degree(s): University of Denver, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Master of Business Administration   Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I have been a proposal engineer at Custom Instrumentation Services Corp. (CiSCO) since March of 2016. We provide the equipment and software necessary for power plants, refineries, and other operations to monitor and report their emissions data to the EPA. My favorite aspect of my job is that no project is ever identical to another –  some are relatively simple while others are complex. This has also been the first job of my career where the focus is on business development as compared to design and construction.   What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Being a Denver native and spending most of my career in Colorado, everyone recognizes the Boettcher name. For me, I take it as a personal challenge to live up to that name each day by working hard, giving back, cultivating new relationships, learning as much as possible in a variety of realms and disciplines, welcoming constructive criticism to be better, and doing my best to make a positive impact in my organizations and surrounding community.   Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. I am a Boettcher Foundation Alumni Ambassador, a Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA) board member, the Black Alumni Association president at the University of Denver as well as an active alumnus of the Pioneer Leadership Program and the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science. I am also a graduate and alumni advisory committee member of the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado Chamber Connect program, as well as an alumnus of the New Leaders Council Fellowship. I look forward to future work with the Daniels College of Business advisory board and reconnecting with the Colorado Association of Black Professional Engineers and Scientists (CABPES).   What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? Never stop asking questions. The more you develop and learn, the more you realize just how much you don't know, which will keep you humble and hungry for new knowledge. Network with the intention of doing something for someone else instead of looking for what they can do for you. Also, network with everyone, from your fellow engineers to the accountants to human resources to the CEO to the custodians. Everybody has an important role, and if you take any of those roles away, the organization does not function properly. Show respect to everyone. Period.   If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I would have dinner with my family members who are no longer here – grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, teachers and mentors – so that I can be reminded of advice that has been forgotten, gain new advice to share with others, reminisce on the memories we had, laugh until it hurts, and earn their ultimate stamp of approval on whether or not I'm doing a good job in this game called life....

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. Boettcher Scholar Year: 2015 Hometown: Colorado Springs College(s), Degree(s): University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, BS Biomedical Sciences, minors in Political Science and Biochemistry What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I was around six years old when my mom first told me about how sick my grandmother, who lived in the Kurdistan, was, and how hard it was to find doctors who could help her. Conversations continued, and I realized that I wanted pursue medicine and become a doctor. This desire has been churning inside of me ever since — I have been one of the lucky few who have known what they want to do with their lives forever! I hope to apply to medical school after graduation with dreams of reforming global health. Tell us about what activities, groups, and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. From elementary throughout high school, I found myself in student council, so of course I had to join the Student Government Association at UCCS. I began as a justice and soon became the associate chief justice. This March, I was elected student body vice president. I see UCCS as a hub of opportunity – my hope is to push other students into that opportunity! Outside of UCCS, I spent the past two years working with Colorado Springs School District 11, passing a bond and mill levy. After much door-knocking, Colorado Springs said “yes,” and our schools received more public support. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. I have had the privilege of a wonderful relationship with my freshman chemistry lab instructor. I took honors chemistry for majors, an optional chemistry course designed with more rigor and was one of the few females in the course. My instructor, Tisha Mendiola-Jessop, is an avid critical thinker and excellent scientist and taught us to seek community in our endeavors. Tisha taught me how important it was to make strong relationships. She was the one who pushed me to apply for my Harvard research fellowship in the summer of 2017, and has since kept me as an assistant in her lab. What's the best advice you've ever received? I seek out advice from anyone I meet and I make a mental note of it, because I think the best way to learn is from others. The best piece of advice I have ever received, though, is a little tidbit I heard from a friend I made in Boston last summer. She told me that, amidst our incredibly busy lives, we need one day where we do not touch our work. Instead, we take that one day to ourselves; we write notes of gratitude and also write down any occurrence of a thought related to work. Essentially, “schedule balance in.” 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 history, I would choose Cleopatra. Cleopatra faced several barriers in her reign –  she was from a culture outside of the Egyptians, and she ruled a massive society and a male-dominated one at that. I would ask her for all her advice on leadership and diplomacy, and I would want to hear her perspective on our society and world today. I imagine it would be incredibly memorable....

By Paula Pulido Boettcher Student Scholar Committee. “Being here reminds me who I am and what I care about,” was the remark that rang true for all Boettcher Scholars and family that I spoke to this weekend. As a current Boettcher Scholar, I was excited to take advantage of the many opportunities the weekend offered. From connecting with old friends to forming new connections, the vision of the Boettcher Foundation to create more relationships and watch impact grow in Colorado is well under way! The event was nothing short of amazing. Opening night took place at Wynkoop Brewing Co. We heard about the future of the Boettcher Foundation from president and CEO Katie Kramer and members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board. For many 2018 Scholars in attendance, it was their first introduction into a community that is exciting, dynamic, and very welcoming. I was able to meet amazing mentors who spoke to me about their careers, relationships, and philosophies. They were genuinely interested and excited to hear about my career aspirations and give me all the advice they had. I was reminded of the uniqueness of the Boettcher community; Scholars are not competitive with one another and genuinely want to see one another succeed. The Signature Event continued the next morning at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. After breakfast, Scholars entered the auditorium to hear TED-style talks from Scholars including a psychiatrist, a voice actor, an elementary school teacher, a researcher, an idea incubator from New York City, and an education consultant. It was awe-inspiring to witness the far-reaching impact Scholars are making in the world. From advocating for mental illness, immigrant communities, and reminding us all about the child within us, Boettcher Scholars are touching countless lives all over the country. This is what it looks like to make your mark, bringing hope to the hopeless, bringing light and joy to a room of children and teaching those around you to become leaders. The talks were energizing and inspiring. The fun continued with my favorite part of the weekend: a wild and competitive game show with all the Scholars and their family members. On Sunday, there were multiple excursions to choose from. I couldn’t choose, so I signed up for two. In the morning, I went on a VIP tour of the Denver Broncos stadium. The energy was high as we got exclusive access onto the field, into the Broncos locker rooms, security rooms with top-of-the-line technology, and the most luxurious suites in the stadium. Later in the evening, I took a tour of downtown Denver and Union Station, learning all about the Boettcher family’s history and entrepreneurship in Colorado. I left the weekend with so much gratitude and renewed excitement to make my mark on this state, knowing that I am part of a team and legacy that is one of a kind! I can’t wait for the next signature event! ...

By Gergana Kostadinova Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board. The “Make Your Mark” presentations were remarkable! They covered a wide range of topics, and each speaker left the audience with an enduring lesson. The overarching message of the morning reminded me of the words of Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” To start the day, Craig Heacock, a 1985 Scholar, shared the cutting-edge research to return psychiatry to its shamanistic roots, specifically by using ketamine to treat depression and prevent suicides, and utilizing MDMA, better known as “ecstasy,” to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Craig reminded us to never stop questioning what is possible. Beth Skelton, a 1984 Scholar, told a story from her time as an educator at an international school in Germany, when she discovered the importance of “leading from behind” and creating the social architecture to empower her students to create their own experiences. Veronica Fernandez Diaz, a 2015 Scholar, recounted how the Boettcher Foundation made her baggage of living as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipient, easier to carry. She shared how she is constantly fighting to convince people of the humanity of her community, and challenged us to “Be Active. Do Something,” and stand up against injustice. Jeff Bauer, a 1965 Scholar, had a successful career as a health futurist and medical economist for nearly 50 years before he embarked on a second career as an artist. Jeff encouraged us to take on a new challenge at any age and to consider doing something totally unpredictable. The visual art he shared was fantastic! Mark Hess, a 1984 Scholar, on the other hand, tried to retire once and realized that there’s nothing else he’d rather do than be a teacher because he has observed invaluable lessons from his young students. Mark reminded us to follow the example of kids, who create genuine social connections because they’re not afraid to be vulnerable. Noha Kikhia, a 2013 Scholar, challenged us to rethink community development as a crucial shift towards social change that focuses on empowering people to enact change for themselves and those around them. This model is more effective than seeking to inspire leaders to be independent “changemakers.” Dee Bradley Baker, a 1981 Boettcher Scholar, shared his experiences as a voice actor and the beauty of bringing characters to life. A sampling of his many famous credits include Klaus from American Dad and Daffy Duck in Space Jam. Dee challenged us to embrace and comprehend those who are different with the same hospitality as fan conventions, and to remain flexible by welcoming our future with many voices. A special shout-out to Katy Craig, a 1995 Boettcher Scholar and the leadership coach and content developer for the Boettcher Foundation. She served as a flawless emcee and spent the past several months helping the speakers prepare. To conclude the morning, Lori Prok, chair of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board and 1992 Boettcher Scholar, encouraged the audience to make their mark with a quote from Audre Lorde: “When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision –  then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” ...

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. Scholar Year: 2015 Hometown: Aurora College and degree(s): University of Colorado Boulder, BS 2019 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I currently study architectural engineering and plan to pursue a master’s degree in business analytics. I am also looking into PhD programs in architecture. I hope to use experience in engineering, business, and design to start my own sustainable design firm and consult on sustainable design projects. I strive to address pressing urban design challenges like overpopulation and global warming through strategic, community-centric development. Tell us about what activities, groups, and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. I entered CU as a transfer student from DU in 2016 with a new passion for architecture and urban planning. I moved into architectural engineering and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives worldwide. At CU, I now work as president for a sustainable international development team called Bridges to Prosperity that addresses poverty caused by rural isolation. We volunteer with communities in Bolivia and Swaziland to design and build bridges that connect people with education, markets, and health services. I love art and debate and found a way to work on these interests at CU for the Conference on World Affairs, which brings speakers to CU’s campus each spring for interdisciplinary panels that touch on pressing questions from every field. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. Professor Angela Thieman Dino has been a great mentor for me. Ang has pushed me to be my best. She has a spunky, fun-loving outlook on life that makes everyone feel excited to learn. This excitement and energy has helped me through some of the most challenging parts of my academic career and has taught me to face new difficulties with confidence. She becomes excited about each student’s work and supports everyone in striving toward their academic and personal goals. What's the best advice you've ever received? Two pieces of advice have really stuck with me. The first, I heard from another Boettcher Scholar: Syd Levy. He said that he “never misses an opportunity to shut up.” Many of my close friends come to me with questions or want to chat about new experiences that they are trying to think through. I really value that these friends confide in me. That trust can only be developed through honest listening, and when I pause and “take an opportunity to shut up” it gives people the chance to open up and share. Second, a professor at DU, Dr. Kate Willink told me “tears are holy water.” For me, the moments that bring me to tears are the moments of raw humanness. I feel alive when I cry tears of joy, or when I grieve. The moments when I feel so much emotion are powerful, and tears are my body’s honest response. This raw honesty is something to be appreciated, not to be repressed. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? Two visionary leaders come to mind. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Albert Einstein were both incredible thinkers that changed how people thought and felt. An evening with Einstein would be an opportunity to learn about how to think about things that have never been thought before. From his quotes and photos, Einstein seems like an optimistic, quirky, and happy person. For Martin Luther King, Jr., I would love to ask him about how he balanced the gravity of civil rights issues with being a husband and father. I can’t image balancing such public scrutiny with everyday life. His moral certainty and virtuous conviction that brought such unity seems so honorable in today’s polarized rhetoric. I aspire to make my values apparent in every action and word like Martin Luther King, Jr....

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. Scholar Year: 1977 Hometown: Longmont College(s), Degree(s), Graduation Year(s): University of Denver, B.A. French Language & Literature, B.S. in Chemistry (1982), University of Phoenix, MBA Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? Since 1997, I celebrate regularly with real estate clients as they grow their net worth and establish new homes for their families. I serve them when their child purchases her first home or when we sell their parents’ home or build their portfolio. Concurrently, I teach real estate classes to first-time home buyers, investors, and Realtors to empower them to make better choices through a deeper understanding of the market and best real estate practices. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? This focus on empowering others is also reflected in my work as a business and life transition coach. My various activities today stem from an earlier, 13-year career teaching science to teens and demonstration skills to elementary teachers. I marvel how these opportunities all stem from undergraduate degrees in chemistry and French at the University of Denver! Without the Boettcher Scholarship, I would have had to attend CU Boulder part-time while working full-time. Who knows where that path would have led? Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. My first weekend at DU, I met Kent Owens, who would become my husband five years later. When our three kids were in their middle-school years, we homeschooled them. This experience knit our family together and developed a love of learning we share today. Now, with the kids grown, I am developing new areas of interest as an active Boettcher Ambassador, Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board member, Toastmaster, and rower. My family and I regularly cook, read, play games, learn about new things, and hike together. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? Any person who wants to have a positive impact on his own life needs to be curious, mindful, and intentional. For a busy “human doing,” such as a Boettcher Scholar, this time shifting focus is especially important. Meditation, especially being still, was not innate to me. Still, by developing the practice through years of good times and hard times, I’ve become better able to adjust, cope, and be resilient. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? For a most memorable dinner, I would ask Jesus to dinner with friends, family, and me. This would probably have the most challenging and lasting impact on those present. It might not be as fun as having my favorite musician or as inspiring as hosting my most admired statesman. And it might not be as intellectually challenging as listening to a world-renowned professor or as heartwarming as bringing loved ones together. Our spiritual lives affect how we think, are, and act. Jesus got to the spiritual heart of the matter in his stories and often dined with people from all walks of life....

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. Scholar Year: 1984 Hometown: Yuma College(s) and degree(s): CU-Boulder, BA English 1988; CU-Colorado Springs, MA Education 2000 Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I teach elementary gifted and talented students in Colorado Springs School District 11. I’m finishing my 30th year as a teacher, and I plan to teach 40 years or maybe even more. I have published more than 200 units and lessons for gifted learners, and I consult and teach teachers through professional development as well. I love my job, love the kids, and have a passion for gifted education. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Like most Boettcher Scholars, I have a passion for learning. I always loved school. My dad was a teacher, and growing up in a small town I was a "school rat." I didn't want to miss anything, and I was involved in practically everything. If I wasn't in classes, I was at a ball game, at a sports practice, attending a concert at the school, in a play, at a school potluck, or playing around on the school playground or in the gym. It was natural for me to become a teacher. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. I am the president of the Pikes Peak Association for Gifted Students and a state board member for the Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field? The best advice I've received is never stop learning and growing. I would advise current Scholars entering education to lead with their heart, but I wouldn't need to say it. If they are considering being a teacher, they've already decided to do just that. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I would have dinner with my grandparents, and that's an easy one for me – if not such an interesting choice for this question – because I love my grandparents and miss them. I want to hear all of the old stories again....

The Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board recently organized a variety of health and wellness events as a way of reconnecting while also encouraging healthy habits among the Boettcher community. Volunteer site coordinators organized events ranging from hiking to golf, and organizers reported that the events were a great opportunity to engage with the Boettcher community while burning some calories. Here’s a sample of some of their activities:   Western Slope - Hiking Five Boettcher Scholar Alumni living on the Western Slope met for a hike into the Colorado National Monument west of Grand Junction on April 7. They enjoyed the five-mile hike in beautiful weather and were treated to the a sighting of several desert bighorn sheep, including a ewe and her two lambs. The attendees included Mike Moran (1983), Cathy Bonan-Hamada (1982), Hope Waibel (1976), Kristin Donahue (1994), and Beth Skelton (1984). They also enjoyed the company of the mother of a current Boettcher Scholar, Harriet Carpenter, mother of Courtlyn Carpenter.     Fort Morgan - Golf A group of Boettcher Alumni and current Scholars hit the links on Saturday, April 28 for a health and wellness event. After playing nine holes at Fort Morgan’s Quail Dunes Golf Course, they got together for a fun happy hour to cool down, catch up, and network. The group consisted of Will Helling (2012), Austin Herman (2017), Brad Johnson (2017), Charlie Johnson (2010), Kaitlin Johnson (2009), Megan Neumann (2011), and Trey Thompson (2011).   Phoenix - Night Hike A group of Boettcher Scholar alumni met at White Tanks Regional Park near Phoenix, Arizona for a sunset hike that included after-dark scorpion spotting. Tracy Wahl (1986), Keli Price (1976), and Pam and Martin Turman (1975) attended this fun outing on April 28.     Denver - Mindfulness Under the guidance of alumni board member Beth Baker Owens (1977), several Boettcher Alumni and current Scholars learned about the importance of living a centered lifestyle, and discovered how mindfulness can positively impact their lives. Our DU scholars even set intentions to integrate mindfulness into their education and community engagement routines, including educating their own students about chakra scanning and sitting meditation.   Golden - Hiking Boettcher ScholarAalumni from the Denver Metro area gathered at South Table Mountain Park on April 29 for a hike among flowering wild plums and cliff faces above the City of Golden. Jennifer Meyers (1991), Mallory Bustow (2004), Tanner McManus (2011), and Garrett Mayberry (2011) were joined by Mallory’s husband, Aaron, and Jennifer’s daughter, Maya. They enjoyed Tanner’s drone photography and an after-hike lunch in Golden. ...