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December 14, 2010
Here are brief profiles on just a few of the accomplished Fall 2010 Colorado State graduates. Whether overcoming tremendous obstacles or achieving academic excellence, these graduates have accomplished a major personal goal and are prepared to begin meaningful careers and become future leaders in their communities.
Native Rwandan uses MBA education to fight poverty and social injustice
John Gasangwa, a native Rwandan, was born in a refugee camp in Uganda. He spent much of his childhood hiding from the militia with his family and living in a concentration camp, where his two sisters eventually died from malnutrition. At 14, he began helping to translate for the International Rescue Committee in the orphanage where he lived — he was already proficient in 5 languages. Even at this young age, Gasangwa knew that he wanted to help fight the genocide in his country and help people who had suffered because of it. While attending the national University of Rwanda, Gasangwa and his friends built two vocational schools in their area to help children learn skills they could use to find jobs.
After graduating from the university with a major in Business in 2006, Gasangwa worked for World Vision spreading the word about injustices endured by women and children in the Rwandan genocide. He also helped to form another school in the church in his hometown, where children are served a bowl of porridge each day — for many, it is the only meal they will get that day. In 2008, Gasangwa visited the United States with World Vision to speak about his experiences with the organization. During his stay, he learned about Colorado State University's MBA program in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise. After filling out the paperwork and finding financial aid, Gasangwa moved to Fort Collins in August 2009. Through his MBA education, Gasangwa is working to bring affordable fertilizers to farmers in Ethiopia, and he hopes that one day these methods can be transferred to Rwanda and other nations. His goal is to help end poverty and foreign financial aid dependence through sustainable enterprise.
First generation student defies odds to achieve
Laura Davis overcame significant odds to join Colorado State University in the fall of 2005 to study mechanical engineering. After being medically discharged from the U.S. Air Force Academy in summer of 2005, she suffered an injury that resulted in a testing disability. Davis has held numerous internships: at Ford Motor Co. as a quality engineer in Detroit, an assembly line supervisor for DaimlerChrysler, production engineer for Toyota Motor Co. and process engineer for Dawn Food Productions. During her time at CSU, Davis served as an officer for the Society of Women Engineers, a not-for-profit education and service organization that empowers women to succeed and advance as engineers and leaders; she also was a member and officer of CSU's Engineer College Council and has been involved with Formula SAE, a student design competition. Davis is currently studying abroad in Prague and hopes to pursue a career as a manufacturing engineer for a vehicle manufacturer when she returns.
Engineering student immersed in academic leadership
Laura Ruff is graduating with honors from the College of Engineering with a concentration in mechanical engineering and a minor in math and Spanish. Ruff is a member of the Colorado State University Chapter of Engineers without Borders, an organization dedicated to creating a more stable and prosperous world by finding better solutions for clean water, power, sanitation and education. Last spring, Ruff traveled to El Salvador, where she performed an assessment of the current water system and learned about the country's goals for the future of the system. Ruff is also a member of Colorado State's Mechanical Engineering Mentor Program, where she helps freshmen transition from high school into college, and the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience. She has an internship with the Brendle Group, a Fort Collins company committed to energy efficiency and sustainable design, and wants to continue working in this field.
Former Boy Scout serves local and national communities
Business student David Harrell first became involved with the Boy Scouts of America in elementary school. Through the years, he worked his way through the many elected volunteer leadership positions in the organization. After becoming an Eagle Scout in 2003, Harrell knew he wanted to continue serving the organization. In 2008, he was elected Western Region Chief for the Order of the Arrow, the BSA's national honor society. The Order of the Arrow rewards Scouts who maintain a high level of involvement in the organization and who give back. While in the position, Harrell traveled the country speaking about his experiences and conducting training sessions for members.
One of his favorite experiences during his time as Western Region Chief was a two week backpacking trip through northern New Mexico with his fellow Arrowmen. He also spoke to an audience of 6,000 at the 2009 National Order of the Arrow Conference. Through this experience, Harrell developed leadership and management skills that will last a lifetime. He remains active with the BSA as an adviser to youth officers and a member of the Western region committee. Harrell will graduate with a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management, minors in Economics and Political Science, and certification in Supply Chain Management. After graduation, Harrell plans to pursue a career in supply chain management and eventually get his MBA. He looks forward to becoming part of a business organization where he can continue making a difference.
Agriculture student represents CSU on local, national, and international stages
During her time at CSU, College of Agricultural Sciences student Jenna Meeks has worked to connect students in agriculture with local and national communities. In 2009, she traveled to China with the agronomy delegation of the People to People ambassador program, which provides students with an opportunity to represent their schools and communities while traveling abroad. Meeks' involvement at CSU has focused on maintaining a positive image for the agriculture industry and integrating the industry with education and the community. She is actively involved with the CSU Agronomy Club and served on the university's Ag Council.
As an Ag Ambassador, Meeks represented a positive public image for the College of Agricultural Sciences. Meeks has also represented CSU at the national level, attending several large agricultural conferences. In the past year, Meeks interned with the National Association of Wheat Growers in Washington, D.C. Meeks is a double major in Agricultural Economics and Soil and Crop Sciences. After graduation, she hopes to continue serving as a positive representative of the agriculture industry. She is currently considering furthering her education through a master's degree at CSU, where she'll research irrigation techniques. Meeks is also interesting in working as an international ambassador for the U.S. agriculture industry after graduation through the International Foreign Youth Exchange program organized by Colorado 4-H International Programs. In this program, students visit a foreign country for four to six months and live with a host family, where they share experiences and gain insight into life in another nation.
Rural Colorado native hopes to influence livestock industry
Some students in the College of Agricultural Sciences have never had any hands-on experience with the subjects they want to study. This is not the case for Kari Otteman, senior in the Animal Sciences Department. Otteman grew up on her family's ranch near La Junta, Colo., where she developed a passion for the livestock industry. Her experiences have made her a natural leader in the department, both in and out of the classroom. She has been able to share her firsthand knowledge with her fellow students and serve as an advocate for the industry and for rural America.
While at CSU, Otteman has been involved in many clubs and organizations, including CSU Cattlewomen, Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority and the CSU Seedstock Team. Otteman is graduating with a degree in Animal Science as an Honors Scholar with a cum laude distinction. After graduation, she plans to continue her education at CSU and pursue a master's in Bovine Reproduction. Her research will focus on ways to synchronize breeding of cattle to make the process as efficient and cost-effective as possible. Otteman's understanding of both the science of her field and the practical applications will help her to continue to serve as a leader in the livestock industry.
Horticulture student brings color to campus
In 2010, Kara Crist served as the student coordinator for Colorado State University's Annual Flower Trial Garden. In that role, Crist worked closely with her fellow students, professors, researchers and volunteers to make the garden a success. She was responsible for helping to design the flower beds in the garden, starting the plants in the greenhouse, managing fellow student employees and helping to collect data on how well the plant varieties are growing. The purpose of the trial garden is to evaluate which plants grow best in Colorado's unique climate. The garden, which spans 25,000 square feet in front of the University Center for the Arts on College Avenue, contains 1,200 varieties of annuals and 125 perennials. It is one of the five largest flower test gardens in the United States. Crist put her abilities to the test when working to design the beds, as the design must meet the needs of all the plants in addition to being visually stimulating and well-laid out. Crist is a double major in Horticulture and Environmental Horticulture and is graduating cum laude with honors. She has been a member of Pi Alpha Xi, a horticulture honor society, since 2008. Crist is currently interviewing with several organizations she connected with during her tenure as Annual Trial Garden coordinator and hopes to continue her career in the horticulture industry.
Biochemistry and Art History student combines two different majors for conservation
Kierstin Miller, who is graduating with double major in Art History and Biochemistry — both with honors — has been an outstanding student, according to her professors. While studying biochemistry with the plan of going to medical school, she originally was only doing art history as a passion. But now she plans to combine the two areas of art history and science and pursue conservation studies at the graduate level. In her tenure at Colorado State, Miller has written undergraduate theses for both majors: “Using siRNA to Combat Influenza A” and “Conquest, Clash, and Convergence: Picturing Catholicism through Feather Mosaics and Pasta de Caña de Maíz Sculpture in Early Colonial Mexico.” Her desire to be a scientist, a doctor or a researcher led Miller to select Biochemistry while her longtime love of art led her to select Art History as a purely second major. However, in meeting with her Art History professor, Catherine DiCesare, Miller was introduced to the world of Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art. Realizing that this was her true passion, she decided that her future was in the art world, which later led her to the field of art conservation. As a conservator, Miller can maintain her love for both art and science within a single career. She has held internship positions with National Jewish Health, Xcel Energy and the Denver Art Museum. Following graduation, she intends to go to graduate school for art conservation and focus specifically on ethnographic objects and research conservation.
Journalism student already has his own TV show
Dustyn Blindert, who will graduate with a degree in Journalism and Technical Communication, is the executive producer, lead editor and co-host of Tag Team, a reality-based outdoor TV show that captures the true meaning of hunting. The series airs on Northern Colorado Channel 5, a local TV station.
After graduation, Blindert, along with his younger brother Shane, who is assistant producer, editor and co-host, plan to expand the 13-episode season of Tag Team and advance the show from the local network to a national level. Dustyn also plans to work for an outdoor-type company in production and communication.
Graduate student strives to save local agriculture and education
Maureen McNamara will graduate from CSU with a Master of Arts in Anthropology. For her thesis research, McNamara studied the economic viability of the local food system and the producer community. During the 2009 growing season, she volunteered on a farm in Larimer County, interviewed food producers and conducted a survey. She presented her research findings at regional and national conferences and published two articles in the CSU student-run Anthropology Graduate Student Association Journal, “Furthering Perspectives.” In the fall of 2009, McNamara and other graduate students organized a fundraising campaign and event — Bushdoctor Benefest — that raised more than $35,000 for a fellow graduate student who was diagnosed with cancer and was without medical insurance. She has worked within agriculture and education since she attended North Carolina State University. She also studied at a university in Guatemala and later helped direct a summer program there. McNamara taught agriculture in North Carolina and worked with migrant farm workers in North Carolina and eastern and central Colorado. She recently accepted a job as a Bilingual Food Safety specialist with Boulder County Public Health. In this position, she will educate restaurant workers and the community in food safety.
Student uses hands-on experience in Kenya for future career as wildlife veterinarian
Nicole Sedgeley is graduating as an Honors Scholar with a Wildlife Biology degree. She is a native Coloradan from Golden who is in love with the outdoors, wildlife and traveling. She decided to pursue a degree in Wildlife Biology at CSU because it was a perfect fit for her passion of the outdoors and animals. She says that the curriculum in the Wildlife Biology program has taught her a great deal about wildlife management and research, but her undergraduate career has been further enriched by other experiences including her summer at Pingree Park, acting as the president of the CSU Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society and her semester spent studying wildlife management in Kenya. Her leadership was noticed by the Wildlife Management Institute, an international, professional conservation organization established in 1911. The institute offered her an internship to help with and learn about its North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, arguably one of the oldest and largest annual natural resources conferences in the United States. Beyond wildlife and the outdoors, she also values traveling and the growth and enlightenment that can come from it. Whether it was spending a year in France in high school; studying for a semester in Kenya; spending holidays in Europe, South Africa and Canada; or summers working as a park ranger in Montana and Utah, Sedgeley gained a great deal of appreciation for different cultures and environments through each experience. Her love for traveling and passion for wildlife has led her to pursue a career in wildlife veterinary medicine.
Forestry student hosted ESPN logging competition
Killian Malone, top lumberjill in the state of Colorado, will graduate with a degree in forestry with honors from CSU. She says she knew she wanted to study forestry without knowing what forestry was while she was in high school. Her favorite experience at CSU was taking a field course at Pingree Park in the summer of 2008 and working there for the entire summer as a teaching assistant in 2009. Malone is not only Colorado's best lumberjill, she is past president of the CSU Logging Sports Team. In March 2010, Malone and the team hosted the Western regional timbersports competition and the STIHL Timbersports Collegiate Challenge at their field in Fort Collins, Colo. The event, sponsored by Carhartt and covered by ESPN-U, was attended by 11 representatives from Western universities and colleges, 150 athletes and hundreds of spectators. For their efforts, the team was unanimously voted Sport Club of the Year by the Sport Club Association; the Western region episode of the Collegiate Challenge is frequently shown on ESPN. She has also worked as an admissions ambassador, giving campus tours for the Office of Admissions, for the past three years. After graduation, Malone plans to join the Peace Corps.
Microbiology student brews own beer at New Belgium
Drew Bomard, who is graduating with a microbiology degree, has had a unique opportunity that most college students would love to have. He has his own beer, called “Drew’s Brew,” under the New Belgium Brewing Company’s label. Bomard has been an intern with New Belgium Brewing since May and had the opportunity to make his own beer after winning an employee-wide competition called "Loose Lips," in which he correctly identified the three beers and percentages of the beers that were combined in one pitcher. He guessed them 100 percent correctly, percentages and all, for the first time in New Belgium history. He has been working on his own beer since early October. The beer will be ready to be bottled within the next month. After graduation, Bomard plans to continue his internship with New Belgium working with the quality assurance department in the microbiology lab. The lab's main focuses include yeast propagation and culturing as well as detecting contamination in post-fermentation and finished beers.
Single-Mother is not the traditional Construction Management major
Fonda Budai is a non-traditional student and single mother of three and a construction management graduate. Budai became interested in construction after enlisting in the U.S. Air Force, where she installed secure telecommunications systems including all the associated hardware and power.
She received a bachelor's in Music a few years ago and then stayed home with her three children for 12 years. Budai is a member of Emerging Green Builders and was on the 2009 ACS LEED competition team.
She has recently accepted a position in estimating with Roche Constructors, Inc., in Greeley.
Pre-med student devotes life to helping others
Blake Gibson is graduating with a double major in Biomedical Sciences and Spanish. Gibson chose biomedical sciences because the program gave him the foundation for a career in medicine, and it is within CSU's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, one of the world's foremost veterinary medicine programs. He added Spanish because of his interest in serving underserved Hispanic populations as a doctor. After graduation from CSU, Gibson plans to continue to pursue matriculation to medical school to fulfill his dream of becoming a pediatrician. Until that time, Gibson hopes to volunteer in the Phoenix area teaching financial literacy and life skills to predominately Spanish-speaking lower income families. Over the summer, he plans to travel to India to volunteer at an orphanage, allowing him to gain a first-hand view of the challenges in global health. He will also work at the Montana Migrant Worker Clinic serving Flathead Valley.
Native American student mentors fellow students and rehabilitates injured birds to prepare herself for veterinary school
Madeline Anna is an environmental health undergraduate in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. She is a member of the Choctaw and Delaware tribes and has been an active mentor and advocate. As a North Star Peer Mentor for the Native American Cultural Center at CSU last year, Anna helped retain and mentor American Indian freshman and transfer students. Her educational goals are to attain the degrees of Master of Public Health and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and she hopes to become a commissioned corps officer in the United States Public Health Service. Following graduation, she will continue working for the Animal Population Health Institute and then enter graduate school in fall 2011. Anna also has spent much of her time volunteering with the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program. RMRP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to rehabilitating injured birds of prey and releasing them back into the wild.