Scholar Profiles

By Chris Lowell In a world concerned with standards and conformity of behavior, Quincy Hansen argues for a more accommodating and accepting world. Quincy does not fit neatly into one category; he is as curious about the world as he is multi-faceted in his interests and talents. From Thornton, Colorado, Quincy is not only a Boettcher Scholar studying Biology and entomology at Colorado State University, but he is also an autism advocate turned published author and frequent advisor and guest voice on projects aimed at increasing acceptance and participation of people with autism in society. Whether he is helping young adults with autism find their voice in this world, delivering remarks at an autism perspective conference, musing about nuanced evolutionary biology topics, or heading out on a fossil prospecting trip, Quincy is a dynamic young leader who advocates for understanding of life on earth; beings big and small, extinct and extant, neurodiverse and not alike. I recently sat down with Quincy to discuss his journey to this point, some of his current work (including the release of his upcoming book), and where he is headed next. Below are excerpts from our conversation. Navigating the difference between school and academics    Can you tell me about your academic journey? Between seventh grade and graduating high school, my narrative about myself switched from: Quincy will not graduate high school, to: class valedictorian. Middle school was not a conducive environment for me to learn. I was struggling academically, mentally, and socially, and we were struggling to access the right accommodations in school. It became so bad towards the end of seventh grade that I did not finish the academic year. My dad knew that regardless of how it appeared in a middle school classroom, I was intelligent. He suggested enrolling me in Front Range Community College (FRCC), which we did. I achieved a 4.0 as an 8th grader in my first semester at FRCC, which was an immense confidence boost for me. It turns out, that I do pretty well in a lecture, rather than unaccommodating classrooms in a typical middle school. In a college class, I can go my own pace, and avoid the cruelty of middle school students; the maturity of fellow college students is much higher. One of the classes I took at FRCC was intro-level biology. I loved the topics, and when I love something I am super enthusiastic about it. College-aged students would ask me for help, which again was a confidence boost. After other unsuccessful attempts at integrating into new middle schools, I finally enrolled in Faith Christian Academy, which turned out to be fantastic. Instead of fights over educational goals and accommodations, they were flexible and they believed in me as a person, and saw me as an actual student. I received the accommodations I needed, I made great friends, I played on the football team, I was the bass player in the jazz band. And I became our class valedictorian.  Neurodiversity, writing, and advocacy Can you tell me about your relationship with writing and how being neurodiverse impacts that? It is easier to express myself in writing. I haven't taken any advanced writing courses; I have a grasp of writing mechanics, and I don’t overthink it too much. My internal thought process is very visual. When I think, it’s like watching a movie reel go by in my head; that’s how I process and understand ideas. It is a translational process to take those ideas from my head and use words to paint that imagery onto a blank page. That does make me an unbelievably slow writer, but at the same time it ends up being a true expression. Perhaps people can get bogged down by the words themselves when they are writing and miss the concepts they are writing about. I start with the concepts and try to translate them into words. Writing is freeing, to an extent. I have so much that goes in my head and when I can get it down and have a record of those concepts, that is great. How did your advocacy career get started?  It has been a fantastic journey. I found myself answering the same questions about myself over and over again. So I figured, instead of doing that, why don’t I just write them down and send them a link. So, in High School I began writing the blog Speaking of Autism…. People with Autism process sensory information differently, and different behaviors are the product of the distinct way we receive and process that sensory information. The world can interpret these behaviors as needing to be fixed, when they only need to be understood more, accepted, and accommodated. I began to realize that there was this whole advocacy movement surrounding autism and neurodiversity, and I had this great philosophical awakening on the topic. At some point, a well-known autism advocate liked something that I wrote and they shared it on their page, which caused my blog to blow up in 2019. I woke up in the morning and I had hundreds of thousands of views and had emails in my inbox with people wanting to know if I had an email list or a Facebook page. I didn’t, because only a few people were regularly reading before that. I started to meet bloggers whose material I had always read, and I got invited for various speaking engagements at conferences, and things were taking off. Of course, the pandemic came which halted the in-person speaking and advising gigs. But throughout the pandemic, I continued to write. I was eventually contacted by a publishing house that specializes in autism, neurodiversity, and special education to collaboratively develop a proposal for a book, which was eventually greenlit. It took me about 10 months to write, and it will be released in mid-July 2022. Tell me about your book: Shake it Up! How to be young, autistic, and make an impact. Autism advocacy is gaining a lot of ground right now, yet there is not a specific resource for young people who are autistic or neurodiverse on how to sharpen their advocacy skills. So we crafted this first of its kind advocacy guide specifically targeting teens and young adults interested in leading change. It features interviews with young autistic leaders, and discusses issues like stereotypes, self-image, and communication barriers. The overall concept for Shake it Up was developed collaboratively with the publisher and the autism community. It seeks to build readers’ confidence to change the world around them. Despite the stereotype that people with autism live in our own worlds, Autistic people are very deeply connected with the world, and we process sensory and emotional inputs more intensely. There is a tendency for autistic people to accumulate encyclopedias of knowledge. We get very passionate about things that interest us and about injustices of the world. Greta Thunberg is a great case study. I think any reader will be able to get something out of it. I am so happy to have this contribution to the world. Your advocacy career is obviously advancing, but you also have a focus on evolutionary biology in a research and academic setting. So, where are you headed next? Advocacy has been a lot of fun, and it gives me a lot of meaning and purpose. I don’t believe this is my last book either. Trying to make a difference is so empowering, which is why I don’t see myself simply ending my involvement with advocacy. But I am more complex and multifaceted than that. I have other interests, and I am a scientist at heart. I want to study biology and the evolution of life on earth. Evolution is what drives me and gets me going. I want to make that my professional career, I want to have an impact on science and be a researcher. After undergrad, I intend to get my Ph.D. and become a professor. But that doesn’t mean I have to abandon advocacy. In the meantime, the world has gotten comfortable moving events online, so I've been giving presentations, and participating in online panels; hopefully I can start doing more events in-person and get back to where I was two years ago. One passion can support the other. It is a false dichotomy to think these two paths are distinct and separate....

By Ruthie Lestikow In the last eight months I have struggled more with my personal identity than in the previous four decades combined.  As International Women’s Day approaches, and in the midst of Women's History Month, I found it fitting to try and put some of these reflections on paper.  From a young age I identified myself as an independent person. Growing up in rural Colorado I was taught that it was important to be self-sufficient. My dad was the biggest promotor of this value. Although, I never got the chance to ask him I think his motivations for driving this point home were more for economic reasons than for promoting feminism. Either way, I learned how to change a car tire on my own, change my own oil in my car, weld, drive a split transmission truck, split wood and build the family dog house.  With the unwavering support of my mom my self-realization as a self-reliant, strong woman continued to manifest even after I moved away from my beloved rural Colorado hometown. Thanks to this upbringing I vowed to never have to be dependent upon anyone.  Having financial independence is of the upmost importance to me personally.  Even after receiving the Boettcher Scholarship, I continued to work while going to college so that I could save money.  As I got older, I not only gauged my sense of self-worth in how much I was in the black but also in how hard I worked in my profession as a physician assistant.  At any social event when asked to tell a little bit about myself my first response included what I did for work. These two main points of financial independence and hard work ethic became even more important to me to continue cultivating after having children.  It is important to me to model independence and hard work to both my daughter and son. So here comes the struggle part: My husband and I moved to Medellin, Colombia in South America in July, 2021 to expose our children to a different culture, help them (and me!) learn Spanish and have a family adventure while they are still fairly young and like to hang out with us.  I am not able to work as a physician assistant here in Colombia. I therefore am relying financially on my husband who is able to work remotely and on our savings. The two biggest pillars of the structure of my self-worth have crumbled. So, now how do I gauge my self-worth? What kind of role model am I for my daughter and son? What do I say at social events now after, “Hola! Soy Ruth, mucho gusto.”? Time to put my rural Colorado skills back to work and rebuild. Time to redefine my role as a woman in my world. To me this is a huge theme in celebrating International Women’s Day. Redefine history’s definition of a woman. It’s a time to celebrate women's achievements, to influence behavior, to smash stereotypes and continue to challenge bias.  So how do I do all this as a stay-at-home mom who is now dependent upon her extremely supportive family? I don’t have the answer.  But I have started drafting a blueprint on just how to do this thanks to some wonderful insight from the most influential woman in my life, my mom.  She speaks of finding out what makes you truly happy in the world.  Once you have this figured out, how do you make it apart of your routine? If financially you need to work, how do you make money doing what you love? The move to Colombia has made me realize that it wasn’t the work that made me happy, that gave me my sense of self-worth.  It was more the sense of giving back to my community. Before, I was able to provide medical care to try and improve peoples’ lives in the community of South Denver. Now, I am giving back to the community by helping to raise two happy, generous and internationally minded citizens.  I am also working on giving myself some grace when I need to ask for help.  Turns out, it can be ok to not be so stubbornly independent.  Those who love you can be your best support. The pillars of my structure of self-worth look a little different now, but they are well on their way to supporting a new identity for myself. As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year on March 8th I hope you can find what makes you happy and make it apart of your routine. As an alum, did you know you can donate to the Boettcher Foundation Scholarship Program? If you are inspired to do so, your support can help us create additional academic, intellectual, and leadership opportunities for undergraduate Scholars. Learn more here. ...

The Best Part of My Day By José Martinez, 2003 Boettcher Scholar and outgoing Alumni Board member A few weeks ago, my eldest daughter Penelope shared an interesting story with me on the way home from school. She told me that three students in her first grade class got to the chance to eat lunch with their beloved teacher that day. Naturally, I inquired as to why those specific students were chosen and she excitedly replied, ‘because it was their birthday in November, Dad! When a kid has their birthday in that month, they get to eat lunch with the teacher.’ I nodded in approval, but before I could say anything else, Penelope then added to the story. She told me that one of the three students chose not to eat lunch with the teacher… Now, for those that don’t know, there are few things in life that are cooler or more desired (for a first grader, at least) than the opportunity to eat lunch with your teacher. With that idea as cannon, I was immediately intrigued as to why this student would elect to opt out. Penelope explained to me that in their classroom, each student has a table partner that they sit next to. She also explained that two of the kids chosen were table-mates, but the third chosen student didn’t want her table-mate to be left out and alone at lunch, so she chose to eat lunch with them in the cafeteria instead. We only had a few more blocks left to get home at that point, and all I could do was smile and think, “man, kids are awesome.” One of the best parts of parenthood is the opportunity to shape the world in a way that makes it better. Every day, we as a society have the opportunity to teach our children and to help them frame the world. In our own household, my wife and I have made a concerted effort to work with our own young daughters on working hard and being kind. When we read books and watch movies with the girls, we try to highlight characters who show resilience or those who do good for others. When we talk about our daily lives and what we see around us, we often talk about ‘filling other people’s bucket’s’ and trying our best, even when things are hard. What made me so happy to hear Penelope explain the lunch story was that this whole experience was totally logical and not at all surprising in her world; she was just telling me what happened at school because that’s just what we do everyday on the ride home. You see, the reason why my wife and I focus so strongly on kindness and work ethic with our kids is because we believe these are the key tenets of growth and leadership. Our hope is that one day, our girls will grow up and be empowered to do anything and everything they want, but we want them to do it with kindness. We want them to pursue their dreams, but we also want them to make the world a better place. Perhaps ironically, my wife and I found out we were pregnant with Penelope just before I had the pleasure of being invited to be part of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board, 7 years ago. Much like Penelope has experienced and learned about these leadership tenets from us, my own experience working for and with the Board has continually taught and reinforced these same beliefs for me. Being a part of the Alumni Board has easily been one of the most fun and rewarding things I have ever done. While the Boettcher brand has always been synonymous with greatness, that’s not really the reason why I was so eager to serve or why the experience has been so incredible. The real draw has actually been the dedication and kindness of everyone involved. Much like my daughter’s first grade class and my own attempt at parenting, we all seek out the good in others and we are eager to support those around us, no matter the cost. Simply put, this group of people is one of the best arguments I can make about why I am optimistic and hopeful for the future. And, for all those on the Board, I want to express how deeply grateful and honored I am to have had the pleasure to serve alongside you. For the reader of this post, however, I want to leave you with just one piece of advice. Comedian Conan O’Brien, in his farewell speech from his show, told his audience, “work hard and be kind; amazing things will happen.” Though from an unconventional source, I truly believe there is magic in this idea. As I approach my own farewell of sorts, I simply want to encourage you to heed this advice. It’s not always easy to do and sometimes it seems like a counterintuitive response to the situation at hand, but I promise you that most of the time it will be exactly what you need. And just like that, I must bid you adieu. As luck would have it, it’s time for me to go pick up Penelope from school and see what other life lessons await....

Peter Maiurro Chief Communications & Business Affairs Officer and 2001 Boettcher Scholar I donate to the Boettcher Foundation because Boettcher Foundation has supported me and provided me opportunities to enhance the work I am fortunate to do. I believe in the synergy of Boettcher Foundation investing in people and projects that were destined to make a positive impact. That positive impact is amplified by Boettcher and I want to support that amplification for future people and projects. Paying it forward means supporting future generations of people and projects with great potential to make a positive impact. Philanthropy is giving of one’s resources to support meaningful work for goodness in our communities. In addition to giving to Boettcher, my personal giving priorities are arts and culture, education, economic prosperity My favorite thing about being a Boettcher Scholar is the network of scholars and the relationships with Boettcher staff/Trustees.  The community of those associated with Boettcher is one of the greatest collection of people I have ever known- smart, kind, fun people who are committed to doing good. The leadership value that I strive to apply daily is character because being a person of strong character is a critical foundation for effective leadership.  Courage is a close second…   Dr. Larry Allen Professor of Medicine, University of Colorado, School of Medicine, Former Trustee, and 1990 Boettcher Scholar I donate to the Boettcher Foundation because the Boettcher Foundation has been such a positive influence in my life in many ways. Trying to pay it forward is the least I can do. Paying it forward means pass it on to someone else who will benefit. Turn the good fortune that has been created for you into good fortune for others. Philanthropy is generosity, giving without expecting something in return. In addition to giving to Boettcher, my personal giving priorities are President’s Leadership Class at CU Boulder, National Public Radio and Colorado Public Radio, Denver Public Schools, Florence Crittenton, Colorado Open Lands, Planned Parenthood, and the CU Foundation. My favorite thing about being a part of the Boettcher Community is being a part of the Boettcher Community. The leadership value that I strive to apply daily is responsibility because I believe a lot of leadership is done through example and hard work and that nothing should be beneath any of us.   Michelle Lucero Trustee I donate to the Boettcher Foundation because I believe in the mission of the Boettcher Foundation. With my heart and soul.  I am proudly a Colorado native, "to invest in the promise of Colorado...

By Curtis L. Esquibel Laying the groundwork for an eventual manned mission to the moon, the Gemini Space Program launched its second unmanned spacecraft to test heat protection and structural integrity upon launch and re-entry. In other headlines, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a civil rights march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery. The year was 1965. It was also the year that Peter Erdman received the Boettcher Scholarship as a senior at Fairview High School in Boulder. After opening his scholarship offer letter, Peter told himself that one day he would give back to the program that helped launch his career and pursue his love of science. Earlier this year, Peter donated a major gift to the Foundation in support of the scholarship program. (Visit here to learn about giving to the Boettcher Foundation). “I was the first in my family to go to college,” he said. “The financial support of the Boettcher Foundation gave me that opportunity.” Today, Peter teaches physics in the physical science department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. While he took the fall semester off from teaching, Peter sat down to answer some questions about his career path, life, and philanthropic interests. Share a little about your post-Boettcher Scholar life – family, career path, interests, and inspirations? “I finished at the University of Colorado with an undergraduate degree in physics and continued on to graduate school in physics at the University of Pittsburgh. There I completed a PhD in between making some mountaineering trips to the Himalaya, Andes, Canada, and Alaska. I have been married (41 years now) and have two daughters, who are all grown up. I continued as a research scientist at Pittsburgh, working in Earth upper atmospheric physics and chemistry by designing and building instruments for both laboratory experiments and for flights on sounding rockets and satellites. I moved to the Daytona Beach, FL area upon taking a faculty position at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1998 where I still teach physics. After moving, I soon developed a strong interest in hands-on observational astronomy as a way to increase student interest in science. My first challenge was then to convince anyone that ground-based astronomy could be done from a semi-urban location, so I delved into astro photography as a means of demonstration (a number of my images can be found on "astrobin.com,” search for "erdmanpe").  The images proved convincing enough to raise funding, and so I developed an Astronomy & Astrophysics undergraduate degree program, along with an observatory system right on campus with a 1-meter telescope (I believe the largest university telescope in the southeast) in order to give students access to state of the art instrumentation for their projects.  The undergraduate A&A program is now one of the largest in the country.” What made you choose to ‘give back’ to Boettcher through philanthropy? “I always considered my scholarship to essentially be a loan that I should pay back, with interest, when I could feel financially comfortable doing so. The obvious great need of so many people in these times reminded me of that obligation.” When you think about giving and your personal philanthropy, what are your priorities? “Primarily food banks and organizations providing emergency help and disaster relief.” What does being a part of the Boettcher Scholar community mean to you? “It reminds me that I've been helped by others, and it is my obligation to do what I can with my good fortune. I frequently remind myself and family, "do you realize how lucky we are?" As an educator and lifelong learner, what is the message you would share with young Boettcher Scholars today, perhaps those in college or early in their careers? “Remember that there were those you inspired you on your path, and who helped you along it. It is your obligation to society to continue that legacy for those behind you.” As an alum, did you know you can donate to the Boettcher Foundation Scholarship Program? If you are inspired to do so, your support can help us create additional academic, intellectual, and leadership opportunities for undergraduate Scholars. Learn more here. ...

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....

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....

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2008 Hometown: Denver/Thornton College(s), Degree(s): University of Denver, 2012, BA in Sociology with minors in Spanish and Leadership Studies; University of Denver, 2013, MSW with a concentration in High Risk Youth; University of Northern Colorado, 2021, Ed.S. in School Psychology Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I've been a school social worker in Mapleton Public Schools since graduating in 2013. In 2018 I went back to school to get my Ed.S. degree in school psychology which I just finished in May 2021. I'm excited to continue working for Mapleton because I've had such a wide range of opportunities to grow my skill set. I've worked with all ages, from preschool through 12th grade. Right now I'm working at a K-8 school and the ability to work with kids of all ages is the absolute best part of my job! What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Being a Boettcher Scholar has given me the chance to figure out who I really want to be and how to be my best self. It gave me the chance to go to school not only once but now twice, which I know I never could have done without the support of the Boettcher community. It is my proudest accomplishment, and I strive to believe in myself the way Boettcher believed in me years ago. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. I love being a part of the Boettcher Alumni community and I try to stay involved in events as much as possible. Outside of work, my favorite activity is spending time with my family, no matter what that looks like. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? The best piece of advice I've ever gotten was that while intelligence and knowledge go a long way, it's the hard work and dedication that will make you stand out from the crowd and go the extra mile. For anyone entering either the education or mental health fields, the best advice I can give is to remember the importance of self-care. It's a very challenging and very rewarding world, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. You have to remember to help yourself before you can help others. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? Let's go on this journey together, because I've never really had a solid answer to this question. Lately I've been fascinated by sign language. Over the years I've picked up a few simple words and phrases from working with preschool students and students with a variety of disabilities from very mild to more severe. It's been so much fun to discover. This brings someone like Helen Keller to mind because she was such an advocate for disability rights, and of course to have the chance to learn about sign language too....

Boettcher Scholar Year: 1992 Hometown: Akron College(s), Degree(s):Colorado State University, B.S. in Agricultural Economics, 1996; University of Wyoming College of Law, J.D. Law, 1999 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 district court judge for the State of Colorado. My district is the northeastern seven counties and is the size of Massachusetts. I’ve been a state-court judge since 2004. My favorite aspect of the job is the mentoring and coaching that comes with the personal relationships you form in treatment courts. You have the opportunity to really impact a person’s life positively and watch as they realize the fullness of their potential. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Without the Boettcher Scholarship, I never would have been able to achieve what I have achieved. The Boettcher Scholarship changed my family tree. It lifted me from poverty and allowed me to be the first in my family to graduate from college. I could take on a reasonable debt for law school and then serve my country as an officer in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. The Boettcher Scholarship allowed me to focus on public service without the fear of servicing crushing education debt. My children know a better life than I did growing up. They see the American Dream in action through three generations from my parents to them. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. I continue to serve my country as an officer in the Reserve Component of the JAG Corps. I serve in the Veterans of Foreign Wars and The American Legion. I volunteer at my kids’ school for various activities. What I like about volunteering is the sense of community connection and the understanding that my perceived problems in life pale in comparison to the problems others in my community overcome daily. 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 ever received is, as an attorney, all you have in this profession is your reputation. Guard it and never let it be called into question. The best advice I have for those entering this profession is there are three levels of right: moral, ethical, and legal. Strive to ensure your actions and leadership rise to the highest right, the moral right. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? If I could have dinner with one person, I would choose Jesus Christ. As a Christian, I always try to put Him above all else and act as He would. From dinner conversation I would gain insight on His ways and His parables. As the Son of God, He is the closest thing on Earth that we have to the Creator. I could ask Jesus questions about God and our relationship. This dinner would allow me to get some answers to the burning questions I have about my relationship with the Lord and His with us. I would get to know more about my faith and His plans for me....