Scholar Profiles

By Amelia Atencio For those reading this blog, I have the distinct pleasure of being the first of many guest authors to share my story. The first piece of financial advice I received was a snippet I overheard from a Youtube video, “Aim to save a year’s worth of your salary at any given point in your life. This way, if anything were to happen, you could secure your livelihood while you re-gain your footing.” For those I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, I am Amelia Atencio, a 2014 Scholar and ’18 Colorado College Alumna. Growing up, money was tight in my household and I was always aware of the cost of living. Years like 2008 were challenging and others like 2014 were filled with promise. If, like me, you’re shifting in your seat because this is a slightly uncomfortable topic, that’s because talking about money is taboo. Korrena Bailie, a consumer finance editor at Forbes Advisor says, “Not talking about money can have sweeping social effects, like stopping women from getting equal pay for equal work in the workplace.” March is Women’s History Month - a time to celebrate the achievements of woman across the world and a time to have conversations that carry the torch forward for equal rights, equal pay, and equal representation. I should share that I do not work in finance, I am just a young woman who wants to be able to better manage my money and be financially secure. I want the same for all women. So, how do we help women better manage their money? First, we can begin by being candid and not being embarrassed by financial conversations. Secondly, we can share resources, tips, and empower women to be champions of their own financial security. Most importantly of all, we can make banking and investing more accessible to women. I recently attended an event with History of Colorado to learn more about The Women’s Bank. One of Colorado's and Boettcher’s own champions, Judi Wagner helped found the Women’s Bank in Denver, CO. in 1978. At the time, banks were not favorable to women and until 1974 women still needed a male co-signer to open a bank account or line of credit. This law prevented many female settlers and widowed businesswomen from using a bank to manage their assets. Unlike other female-chartered banks in the U.S., this bank was intended for women. On opening day, they took in over $1 million dollars from women in the community. The success of the bank was so profitable that the annual return averaged ~14%. This success continued for 16 years until 1994 when the bank was acquired by the Colorado Business Bank. During the virtual event, I had the pleasure of asking Judi Wagner, “What advice would you share with women managing their money?” and she said, “To invest.” Not only should women learn to invest, but they should also create portfolios that will allow them to “sleep well at night” and are resilient to market bubbles. A great place to start is ElleVest, but she also stressed the importance of interviewing several brokers to ensure you trust the person managing your investments. I also asked Judi if she thought banking was more welcoming today. She said, “Yes, of course. There are many women in banking and investment roles today.” She also pointed to Jane Fraser saying, “We have come a long way, but there is still much work to be done.” Jane Fraser is a poignant example because she was appointed the CEO of Citigroup this past year — the first female CEO of a large financial institution. While her accomplishment marks an incredible achievement for women, it is also a reminder that appointing women in high-ranking positions is long overdue. Though March is coming to a close, it is important that the work continues. How can you empower the women in your life to play an active role in their finances? Perhaps you can start having conversations with your children at a young age or help them set up their first bank account. Or, if you are well versed in financial planning or investing, you can share your resources with women you mentor at work. At the end of the day, what matters most is dismantling the stigma around money and we can all do that by having candid conversations. Money doesn’t have to be so mysterious....

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2004 Hometown: Aurora, CO College/Degree: Colorado School of Mines for BS in Petroleum Engineering; Rice University for MBA Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I am currently a director of reservoir engineering and analytics at a small private equity backed oil and gas company that produces mostly natural gas. I live at the intersection of subsurface understanding and finance. I love that I get to deploy machine learning regularly to help make business decisions and that I get to help people in the organization develop. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Boettcher has been a great support infrastructure throughout my academic and professional career. Support started with funding of undergraduate research and a more recent example is through personal development coaching. Throughout my career Boettcher has provided substantial support beyond the scholarship that I have found helpful. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. Outside of work I am most active through a startup nonprofit focused on early childhood education for at-risk children, where I am the president: Harbor School, Inc. I also participate in a few professional organizations around the topics of oil and gas, energy, engineering, and business. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? "A wise man can learn from a fool, but a fool can learn from no-one." It's a riff on a quote from Bruce Lee. I think these are wise words to live by whether professional or personal, and I try. If you are entering my career path today or you are starting out as a STEM professional I would recommend focusing in on people and soft skills. Both will matter as much as your technical skills. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? Right now the person I wish I could talk to most is James Baldwin. James Baldwin seemed to have understood a lot of things that would help us understand and fix many issues we deal with today as they relate to race (and class and sexuality) in America....

Felisa Gonzales Boettcher Scholar Year: 1997 Alma Mater: Colorado College What does being a Boettcher Scholar mean to you? Being a Boettcher Scholar means that someone believed enough in me and my potential to support my undergraduate education. It means being part of a community of smart and caring people who reflect the diversity of talent in Colorado and share a commitment to giving back. What inspires you to get more involved with the Boettcher Foundation? I haven’t been involved with the Boettcher Foundation and am very much looking forward to becoming more connected with Boettcher Scholars and leaders in Colorado. The Boettcher Foundation has invested in me, and I look forward to now having the opportunity to invest some of my time and skills into the efforts of the Alumni Board. What is one overarching thing you hope to accomplish as a member of the Alumni Board? I’m interested in accomplishing two things as a member of the Alumni Board: 1) increasing our understanding of the contributions of the Alumni Board to the Boettcher Foundation’s efforts and 2) increasing outreach to, and connections among, scholars from Southern Colorado. What’s one interesting fact about you that might surprise others? I’ve developed an interest in the flora and fauna of Colorado and have started trying to identify flowers and birds on hikes and walks with my partner and son. Dominic DiSanti Boettcher Scholar Year: 2005 Alma Mater: Colorado State University What does being a Boettcher Scholar mean to you? Boettcher Scholars represent Colorado’s finest in terms of scholastic achievement, leadership, and community service. I am humbled and proud to be a part of this community that represents the best of Colorado. What inspires you to connect with and/or get more involved with the Boettcher Foundation? It is very important to me that I give back in any way possible to the Boettcher community. I am so grateful for the opportunities that the Boettcher Foundation gave to me, and I am eager to pay it forward. I am at a point in my career where I feel I could provide a unique perspective to the Scholar and Alumni community. What is one overarching thing you hope to accomplish as a member of the Alumni Board? I am most looking forward to reconnecting with the Alumni and Scholar community. I aim to provide meaningful insight and perspective from rural Colorado. What’s one interesting fact about you that might surprise others? As a Colorado native, many are surprised to hear that I have never been skiing. Perhaps an Alumni event on the slopes could change that!...

Mary Margaret Hesse Boettcher Scholar Year: 1992 Alma Mater: CU Boulder What does being a Boettcher Scholar mean to you? Receiving the Boettcher Scholarship changed my life by freeing me from pressing concerns about how to pay for college. My continued affiliation with the Boettcher Foundation has given me many opportunities to continue learning and to maintain and make contact with delightful people. What inspires you to get more involved with the Boettcher Foundation? I am grateful for the many opportunities the Boettcher Scholarship gave me and I enjoy helping to extend the Boettcher Foundation's reach a bit on Colorado's western slope. What is one overarching thing you hope to accomplish as a member of the Alumni Board? I look forward to getting to know other members of the Alumni Board and assisting in any way I can. What’s one interesting fact about you that might surprise others? I have enjoyed serving as an international election observer in eastern Europe in recent years, at least until COVID. I can affirm after observing Belarus's parliamentary elections last year that chaotic American democracy is infinitely preferable to eerie autocracy. Griffin Hampton Boettcher Scholar Year: 2018 Alma Mater: Colorado School of Mines What does being a Boettcher Scholar mean to you? I believe that being a Boettcher Scholar means that you actively seek out opportunities to improve yourself and your community. A Boettcher Scholar also finds ways to persevere and enjoy their journey through life, looking for enriching unique experiences. What inspires you to connect with and/or get more involved with the Boettcher Foundation? I have valued the connections that I have made within the Boettcher community. I want to make sure that there are opportunities for other Scholars to make similar connections and that they take advantage of them. What is one overarching thing you hope to accomplish as a member of the Alumni Board? I plan to dedicate my overarching focus on the Alumni Board to encourage stronger relationships between the current Scholars and the Alumni network. I believe this will primarily come from the Boettcher Buddy program. Still, I will be thinking about other avenues and ways to encourage involvement in programs like Boettcher Buddies. What’s one interesting fact about you that might surprise others? I can count up to 31, using only one of my hands....

Mission Spark, a social impact consulting firm founded by 1994 Boettcher Scholar Kara Penn, continues a close relationship to Boettcher Scholars by selecting Scholars and other high performing undergraduate and graduate students, or recent graduates, interested in social impact careers to serve as Mission Spark Fellows. Each year, Mission Spark offers paid fellowships to dynamic and social impact-minded individuals. Fellows receive mentorship on career and educational pathways from Mission Spark consultants, as well as six sessions of professional and personal development coaching by a CTI-trained coach through the Boettcher Coaching Program. In addition, Fellows work independently on high impact projects, with guidance from Mission Spark consultants and clients. Current Mission Spark Fellow and 2019 Boettcher Scholar, Anila Narayana, is a sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder studying Integrative Physiology, Geography, and Public Health. She is interested in helping close gaps in healthcare access for marginalized communities. Anila shares, “Working at Mission Spark has been an irreplaceable experience for me. Being a Fellow has given me the opportunity to work on projects important to me and specific to my interests in health and equity. Specifically, I have been helping draft data products based on the Health eMoms survey conducted by CDPHE, highlighting inequities in paid family leave in Colorado. I’ve also been able to work with Her Future Coalition, an NGO empowering survivors of human trafficking, to create business plans for a social enterprise recycling center in Kolkata, India, and to revamp their impact tourism programming. Contributing to these areas has taught me how to create a data-driven story and improved my research skills, while also helping me explore how I can better incorporate activism into my future career. In addition, the coaching experience provided by Mission Spark has prompted me to more intentionally examine my goals for the future, growing my sense of self in the process. I am incredibly grateful to be part of a network that connects me to such meaningful opportunities and values my development, both professionally and personally.” 2016 Mission Spark Fellow and 2013 Boettcher Scholar Alumna, Scarlett Jimenez, now serves as the Development Director for Alliance for Youth Action. She shares that “As a fellow at Mission Spark in 2016, I had the opportunity to support the robust re-visioning process for the Denver Public School’s teacher performance pay incentive program, ProComp. This process brought together stakeholders including the District and Denver Classroom's Teacher Association (DCTA) to review national research related to teacher incentives and tackle the unique challenges and opportunities within the Denver Public School district. At the time of my fellowship, I was a rising Senior at the University of Denver and saw a clear connection from this work to my public policy studies, so I pursued turning this experience into an independent study. Working alongside Professor Robert Fusfeld, I dove into the world of theory and research surrounding teacher performance to both inform my time at Mission Spark and jumpstart a career in social impact work. As an almost lifelong community organizer and political science/public policy major, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in social justice. My time with Mission Spark broadened my perspective of what a career in public service and social impact could look like and cemented my commitment to this work. After graduating, I took a role with the Alliance for Youth Action in Washington, DC. Today, I serve as the Alliance's Development Director, leading our efforts to partner with philanthropy and individual donors to build young people's political power. We are a network of locally-rooted grassroots organizations across the country (including a fantastic Colorado affiliate!). I continue to be grateful for my experience with Mission Spark and the opportunity to work closely with public stakeholders and explore emerging approaches for creating a more just and equitable system for young people.” The Mission Spark Fellowship represents a unique and informal collaboration between an organization run by a Scholar Alum and the Boettcher Scholar Program, by creating mentorship and career opportunities for current or recently graduated Scholars. For more information or to become involved by contributing a project for Fellows to tackle or to be considered as a Fellow in the future, please reach out to Kara Penn at kara@missionspark.org....

From going through the same degree program to working at the same company, Boettcher Scholars Christopher Allison and Jake Fuhrman have a lot in common. Christopher always wanted to be an astronaut – and that’s still his dream. A 2009 Scholar, he majored in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, the same program Jake is in as a 2017 Scholar. Both Scholars shared a few of the same professors. “CU was the obvious go-to for aerospace,” said Jake. He always wanted to build airplanes after growing up watching his dad fly them as a pilot. After graduating, Christopher traveled to all seven continents and even ran his first half-marathon in Antarctica. He currently owns four restaurants in addition to his Senior Systems Engineer – Federal Agencies Integration Lead position at Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC). At SNC, Christopher is responsible for licensing high-tech projects through the appropriate federal agencies. “Basically, I’m a translator of technical-speak to government-speak,” Christopher said. Jake is a Technical Intern at SNC, a position he had applied for as a sophomore and junior but had received rejections both times. He applied a third time after seeing Christopher’s profile in a newsletter from the Presidents Leadership Class, a leadership program at CU Boulder that both Scholars were (and are) involved in. Jake reached out to Christopher and they connected as Boettcher Scholars. “I knew the cloth Jake was cut from,” said Christopher. “The vetting had been done from other organizations.” As a Technical Intern, Jake has a plethora of different projects he’s working on. “My main focus right now is taking a high-level overview of a project – a whole life cycle – and breaking it down into individual steps,” Jake said. Christopher’s entrance to the company was not too different from Jake’s. He was actually at a Boettcher Finalist event when he made the connection to SNC. “I sat at a table of a prospective Scholar whose dad was a program manager at Sierra Nevada,” said Christopher. “I asked if he determined internships at SNC, and he said he was pretty integral.” After following up, Christopher was offered a job. Both Scholars are now working at their dream aerospace company – one that allows them to not only practice their skills but challenge them. “These projects haven’t existed before. My favorite aspect is the futuristic innovation – like having the technology to put humans on the moon,” Jake said, referencing SNC’s Lunar Lander project. “Every day is a new adventure,” added Christopher. “We have audacious goals and we’re always pushing the envelope. In the paradigm of regulation, there’s isn’t a script written on how you do this.” Outside of work, Jake enjoys hiking on Boulder’s many trails and playing tennis. He plans to graduate next year and potentially pursue a fifth-year master’s program. Christopher brews beer and wine and loves to cook. COVID-19 has put some plans on hold – including his now-rescheduled wedding – but with four restaurants to look after, Christopher is still plenty busy. Christopher and Jake offered some advice for Boettcher Scholars. “Take advantage of all the opportunities,” said Jake. “And be grateful for all that Boettcher gives you. Without Boettcher, many opportunities would have never been open to me.” “Don’t be afraid to take opportunities, but also learn to say ‘no,’” Christopher said. “We say ‘yes’ to everything as Boettcher Scholars. Know your limitations.” Both Scholars encourage others to be bold and reach out – just like they did....

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2015 Hometown: Eads, CO University & Degrees: CSU, B.A. in Journalism and Media Communication What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I graduated last year and am now working as a grain merchandiser with Tempel Grain in Wiley, CO. I also do freelance web design and social media management. I grew up on a fifth-generation farm and ended up at Tempel Grain by being part of the community. I’m able to apply my communication skills to the role I now have. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. I looked for things that sparked my interest - some agricultural and some political. I kept myself busy, though I do wish I would have tried a few more clubs and organizations outside of my comfort zone. Involvement: - College Republicans - Sigma Alpha (agriculture sorority) for professional and social connections - In my freshman year at DU, I participated in CRU and in the Presidents Leadership Program (PLP) - At CSU, I participated in honor societies Experiences: - The highlight at CSU was my study abroad trip to five countries in Europe, where I saw media outlets. We were in London during the royal wedding madness, which was good representation of major media events. - We recorded my cousin’s first album in Nashville, and I worked to help promote his first album and shows. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. My dad has been one of the best mentors. He always encouraged me and never had any doubt that I could do anything. He would listen, nod and say, “OK. Go do it.” What's the best advice you've ever received? Take chances. You’ll never know unless you try. Applying for the Boettcher was one of those stretches that worked well. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? Joan of Arc and/or Harriett Tubman. Both were so selfless and brave for their beliefs. That is what I aspire to be....

Boettcher Scholar Year: 1999 Hometown: Dillon, CO (still hails from Ames, IA, from where he moved to elementary school in Highlands Ranch, CO) College/Degree: Colorado College, Mathematics Major; Denver Seminary, Master of Divinity Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? After training to be a math teacher, I got involved in youth ministry. Now, I am helping start new nondenominational churches near Bountiful, Utah. I was a pastor in the church in Ogden, Utah that started this new church. Utah is growing. My favorite parts of this work are the organizational development and strategy for expansion. I love people and have a pastoral heart. It is sacred to be with people in their highest highs and lowest lows. In my area there is no local theological education, so we raise up people within the church who have a call to serve. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? On one side of the coin, the scholarship was a gift for me and my family. My sister, brother and I were raised in a single parent household where attending a private college, like Colorado College where we all ended up, was not affordable. All three of us were Boettcher Scholars at CC. We were fortunate to receive a gift of great value from the Boettcher Foundation. On the other side of the coin, I am paying the gift forward. Even though I live outside of Colorado, I keep the commitment to service and apply what I have been given to find strategic ways to invest in the lives of people for the good of the community. This means making intentional choices and keeping an open hand for others. In the COVID crisis that is coming to Davis County, I will be reaching out to residents strategically for the good of the community. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. Since 2014, my wife Jennifer and I have been foster parents. I have a growing family with three daughters (3rd, 5th, 6th grades). In warm weather, I am the softball coach for my oldest daughter. We may or may not get a season this year. For us, homeschooling is a new thing. It is hard to balance work and teaching. We are looking to buy a house with our growing family. Also, we have a small group of Boettcher Scholar Alumni in Utah that I’m happy to be organizing. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? “It takes five years to recover from seminary.” You’ll learn more than you ever learned in school after you graduate. Love learning as a discipline. Succeed for the sake of others. Apply learning to more learning. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? Corrie Ten Boom:  She was a Dutch woman who bravely assisted Jews escaping the Nazi regime and showed incredible courage and forgiveness to lead, serve, forgive, and battle without murdering everyone in her path. Rich Mullins: He was a Christian musician who at first struggled with making money. He chose poverty by setting up his estate worth millions of dollars (from his tours and albums) to go to charity while he was paid the average wage of single person. He lived in New Mexico among Native Americans. He was killed in a car accident....

Boettcher Scholar Year: 1998 Hometown: Aurora University & Degrees: University of Denver -- BAs in Graphic Design & Spanish; Denver Seminary -- MA in Youth & Family Ministry     Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation?  Currently, I’m a stay-at-home mom with two boys, ages 4 and 6-next-month. I have lots of favorite things in this work – especially the frequent, sparkling joys of watching my boys discovering or experiencing something brand new. They often surprise me with how much they’ve learned. I occasionally experienced some of this delightful joy in my previous work as a teacher and youth pastor.   How has being a Boettcher Scholar affected what you are doing now?   There has been a long chain reaction catalyzed by not having school debt. I made job and life choices I may not have made otherwise. Now, that choice is staying home with my children. I’m so thankful to be free to make the choice to be home with my family. One’s path can go multiple ways.   Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. Each summer, I coach Boettcher scholars working at Mission Spark and the Boettcher Foundation. I run a local Mothers of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS) group to support moms and more. This group focuses on community service and education on social justice and family issues. Of course, we also connect on parenting. I work with middle school and high school students at my church. Right now, my small group is on a pause for the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, I’m on the PTCO executive board for our elementary school. In this capacity, I support projects that help the school’s educators, including providing mini grants for teachers. As a result of the board’s work, we are now are starting a community garden for the school and have more specific curriculum for special needs students. I’m part of Moms Demand Action, a political action group working to end gun violence. I never thought I would be so busy as a stay-at-home mom!   What advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? My advice is applicable to virtually every field, including parenting: embrace the ‘&’. It is ok to be something and, at the same time, something else. Passionate & practical. Mom & person with ambitions that reach beyond motherhood. This is a movement away from dualistic thinking and into wholistic thinking. I’m an ‘&’; I have multiple sides and facets.   If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I would like to share dinner with Jesus; my Grandmother, who I’m named after; and Tina Fey, because nobody makes me laugh like her. Each of these dinners would be full of laughter and compassion.  ...

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2016 Hometown: Parker University & Degrees: University of Denver — BS in Physics with minors in International Relations, Math, Leadership Studies, and Chinese     What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? After graduating, I plan to pursue a PhD in physics. This will entail two years of classes and up to four additional years in a lab. Ideally, my research will focus on light/matter interactions or quantum information.   Tell us about the activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. The Society of Physics Students (SPS) focuses on outreach to K-12 students, providing physics demos and encouraging students to engage with science. We try to provide exciting science-based experiences for students in order to combat the common view that science is boring. The Pioneer Leadership Program (PLP) is a strong, interdisciplinary community of good people I could relate to and have conversations with. The Honors Program is full of good people and provides interesting course offerings. Through the Honors Program, I took writing and science courses in addition to a few electives and seminars. These were some of my favorite undergraduate courses. I have worked in the same physics research lab since midway through my freshman year, which has been an excellent source of continuity throughout my time in college.   Tell us about an important mentor you have had.   I met Dr. Mark Stephens while touring DU as a high school student – he showed me his physics lab, and I was immediately enamored. Dr. Stephens invited me to start working in his physics lab right away as a freshman. I was taken aback by the experience, and it completely changed my career aspirations. Dr. Stephens also serves as the SPS advisor. In that role, he has taught me about science education and outreach. Providing further guidance, Dr. Stephens referred me to a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, and it was recently awarded to me. This fellowship will fund the first 3 years of my PhD classes and research. Dr. Stephens often reminds students of their “vast spare time,” inspiring us to take advantage of the opportunities which surround us.   What's the best advice you've ever received?   When I was struggling to choose between attending DU and CU, Cam Hickert, Boettcher and DU alumnus, said “Wherever you go, the physics will be the same.” This helped me see that the people I worked with would have a far bigger impact on my academic experiences than the physics itself. As I choose between graduate schools, this same advice drives my decisions.   If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why?  J Robert Oppenheimer, director of Manhattan Project, would be interesting dinner company. His pure interest in physics drove his studies, yet his work was entangled with numerous political and ethical issues. I would ask him about how he navigated these issues. Additionally, I’d ask about the impact physics, the Manhattan Project, and the bomb’s destructive effects had on him.  ...