Posts in: Around Campus

Justice Watch: CC Students Look for Bias at Local Courthouse

By Miriam Brown ’21

Judges in the El Paso County Courthouse are supposed to be fair and impartial, but if they aren’t, Anna Grigsby ’19 and other Colorado College students are there to document it.

Grigsby is one of the leaders of Justice Watch, a student organization whose mission is to hold attorneys and judges accountable for fair treatment by observing trials and collecting data.

Associate Professor of Sociology Gail Murphy-Geiss introduced Grigsby and co-leader Key Duckworth ’19 to the organization through her sociology course Law and Society, in which students collect data at the courthouse. Justice Watch used to be a community-based group, but after it dissolved, Murphy-Geiss stepped in to revive it on CC’s campus.

“One of our goals is to normalize going to the courthouse because it’s public, and a lot of people don’t really understand that,” Grigsby says. “While we’re going to class, people’s futures are at risk.”

On the second and third Monday of every block, students ride with Grigsby and Duckworth to the courthouse, where they pair off to separate courtrooms. The pairs follow the trials with a pre-made worksheet, which asks questions like, “Do you think the judge treated both sides fairly?” If enough data is collected, they can present a report to the chief justice, which in the past has resulted in the removal of judges for inappropriate behavior.

Duckworth explains that with newspapers losing funding, reporters who were responsible for reporting on court events are often cut. Because of this, she says that organizations like Justice Watch are more important now than ever.

“This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done at CC,” says Duckworth. “I hope people can feel empowered to get more politically active and just realize that they can actually change things if they go out and try.”

Student-athletes Start Academic Year at Wildlife Refuge

Baca Wildlife Refuge

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Every student who comes to CC participates in a Priddy Trip and individual trips engage in a wide variety of service work, ranging from trail construction to working with animals. This year, the early athlete Priddy Trip worked with the Baca National Wildlife Refuge to lower and remove barbed wire fences. Our group, which included incoming freshmen on the volleyball, men’s soccer, and men’s and women’s cross-country teams, camped at the North Crestone campground and worked at the wildlife refuge for three days.

Although working on the fences was tiring, it was also quite rewarding for everyone on the trip. On the first day of work, Ron Garcia, who works at the wildlife refuge, explained that the fences are too high for deer and other animals to jump over. The top wire of the fence ensnares their legs, and the animals go into shock and usually die before anyone can free them. Because of this, Garcia instructed us on how to lower the top wire and attach it to the lower wires to make the fences passable for wildlife. We spent most of one day walking along a fence and leap-frogging from post to post while lowering the wires. The second day, while also working with fences, was slightly different work.

Lots of the fence in the refuge is considered historical, so we were instructed to leave the wooden posts intact while removing and rolling the barbed wire to allow wildlife to pass through. Cross-country athlete and first-year Ben Gellman says, “I really enjoyed getting to work with the Baca Wildlife Refuge because I believed in the importance of the service work we were doing. When we drove down the road and saw the quantity of fencing that was now safer for antelopes and other animals it hit home how important the work was.” Many first-year students echoed this sentiment as we drove by the fences we worked on. Gellman adds that he appreciates the connections made during NSO, and feels like he is now more likely to cheer on other athletes he got to know while fixing fences.


Day of Service Morphs Into Week of Action

By Miriam Brown ’21

 What do creek clean-ups, blood drives, and anti-racism workshops have in common?

 They are all ways for Colorado College students, faculty, and staff to engage with the local community during CC’s recent Week of Action.

 Historically, the events focused on cleaning up local creeks during CC’s annual Day of Service. The annual Creek Week Clean-Up is a community-wide effort of the Pikes Peak region to clean creek and watershed fronts across the area. In the past, CCstudents and members of the campus community have done their part by trekking to Monument Creek to pick up trash along the bank. Duringthe 2016 event, theypicked up 3,140 pounds of trash intwo miles.

 This year, Niki Sosa, community partnership development coordinator for the Collaborative for Community Engagement, wanted to provide more opportunities to join in on the fun. Because of the fast-paced nature of the Block Plan, the CCE settled on a full week of action.

 “We thought with the week, we would have multiple afternoons where we could have diverse opportunities and showcase different ways that our CC community can be engaging in the greater Colorado Springs community,” Sosa says.

 The Week of Action, which took place from Sept. 29, to Oct. 6, featured nine intercampus groups and 11 community partners.On Monday, 18community organizations set up tables in Worner Campus Center for an engagement fair to show students the myriad ways they could participate.

 “Big change happens on the local level, and we are helping to create pathways so that students can get connected to that,” says Sosa.

 The week included events like an anti-racist agenda workshop, a discussion with city council members Jill Gaebler and Don Knight, a Bonfil Blood Drive, and a day exploring Colorado Springs with Leadership Pikes Peak.

 “It’s just hopefully the beginning,” says Anthony Siracusa, the CCE’s engaged learning specialist. 

Max Pil ’20 Climbs eSports Top 500 Leaderboards

Max Pil, eSports

By Miriam Brown ’21

 In the virtual world, Max Pil ’20 is a world-class hamster. In Overwatch, a video game in which heroes must come together to control global conflict, Pil regularly plays as Hammond, a hamster nicknamed “Wrecking Ball” for his ability to crush people with his mechanical ball.

Pil plays Hammond so well that he ranks in the top 30 in the world for the position and in the top 500 players overall in North America.

Pil is a member of Colorado College’s eSports team, which was founded last year. The team has around 18 students who play video games, specifically League of Legends and Overwatch, competitively against other collegiate eSports teams.

Despite being new to the team this year, Pil is already teaching the team’s private coach how to play his position.

“He’s doing things that people have never even thought of before,” eSports manager and co-founder Lilly Chen ’19 said. “For the team, there’s a noticeable difference when he’s in the game.”

After Pil posted to a Reddit forum about his play, so many people had questions that he started streaming to explain while he played. Now, in addition to Pil’s regular games and practices with CC’s team, he plays in matches alongside Overwatch paid professionals.

“I think it’s really fun, having grown up playing video games, to finally reach a point where you’re really good,” Pil said. “It’s really cool to get into matches and be at a very high level of competition for something that I always thought was kind of a stupid hobby.”

Chen says that in CC’s future matches, the team just needs to keep starting Pil. “It’s like [in basketball], he’s dunking on kids, and you just have to give him the ball,” Chen said.

TheCC eSports Overwatch team plays its first official games in the collegiate gaming organization Tespa Fall season this Sunday, Sept. 30. Game 1 vs. Purdue University Indianapolis, is at 6 p.m., Game 2 vs. University of South Carolina is at 7:30 p.m. Tune in at, or view the broadcast directly on the CC eSports homepage

First Person: Gathering Plant Data and Research Experience on my Venture Grant to Bolivia


By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Although many students choose to pursue Keller Venture Grants that are not directly related to their majors, my Venture Grant in Bolivia provided the first set of data for my senior thesis with the Department of Organismal Biology and Ecology.

The idea first came from Assistant Professor Rachel Jabaily when she heard I would be travelling in Bolivia before my semester abroad program in Chile. There is a species of plant in Bolivia that is endangered, but not well studied, she explained. The species, Puya raimondii, lives at high elevations (11,000 to 14,000 feet) in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia. She suggested that I could gain unique and valuable field research experience by collecting basic data from these plants.

After a little background research and a few emails to Jabaily’s Bolivian colleagues, I decided I would spend a few days of my independent travel time collecting size and reproductive category data on P. raimondii. One day of data collection would be with my dad, who was travelling with me for two weeks, and the other four days I would be accompanied by Bolivian botanist Carolina García Linowho studied P. raimondiifor her undergraduate thesis.

My dad and I travelled around southern Peru and Bolivia for almost two weeks before starting on the data collection, which ended up providing valuable acclimatization time. Hiking off-trail across rocky hills at 13,000 feet was not easy, even after those two weeks. The first data day took place a few hours outside of La Paz, where we easily found the P. raimondiiwith the help of Bolivian graduate students. Fueled by llama chicharrones (fried llama meat) and cookies, I was able to collect data from 40 individual plants.

A week after the first data day, my dad returned home, and I travelled to Cochabamba to convene with García Linoand her husband and new baby. We met in a hotel to plan our data collection and decided to rent a car and stay overnight in the little towns in the area known to have P. raimondii. Although I had a list of GPS coordinates of Puya locations, we spent the first day driving, searching for plants, and not finding any. The area was very rural with patchy cell phone coverage, and locals were suspicious of outsiders. After a day and a half of driving and not seeing a single Puya, we finally found ourselves in the Municipalidad de Vacas, where Bolivia’s largest Puya population lives. Data collection went smoothly from there, despite the rainy weather. After a day and a half of measuring Puya, I had enough data to head back to Cochabamba. Working in Bolivia was quite successful, but there is always room for improvement with methods, and a potential to have more data. In October, I will travel to Colombia, this time with Jabaily, to collect the same types of data in different species of Puya, with the goal of comparing reproductive data for the different species.

CC Makes Sustainability Gains in STARS Report

Tutt Library

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

CC made a number of appearances in the recently published 2018 Sustainable Campus Index. Run by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the Sustainable Campus Index is a self-reporting system to highlight colleges’ and universities’ sustainability efforts.

They measure 17 different areas and rate them on the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Ranking System. CC’s Director of Sustainability Ian Johnson highlights the significance of the report, saying “it is important to be in the know about what other schools are doing and to make sure that we remain leaders in our work.”

The newly renovated Tutt Library was highlighted in the “Buildings” section of the report, saying the library is a “major contributor to the college’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2020.” CC also tied for 10th place on the “Purchasing” list, which reviews the environmental and social responsibility of a school’s services and products.

The “Water” section evaluates conservation, recycling, and reuse of water, as well as effective use of rainwater; CC was number two on the list. Johnson sees these results as a big step for CC, as it “is a clear indication that not only is our approach working, but that in some cases it’s put us at the head of the pack.  That tells me that we’re doing something real and doing it right, not just embracing an image.”

Bonner Fellows Class of 2022

Nicole Chavarria

My name is Nicole Chavarria and I am from the DMV area. I was born in D.C. but have done most of my schooling in Montgomery County, Maryland. I love being in D.C. and exploring there. I have had experience in community service through my school and other programs I have been a part of such as NJROTC, NHS, IB, and LTI. I have volunteered at family markets, food banks, helping pick up trash from my school’s side of the road, tutoring and in many school hosted events. I am going to into CC as a Chemistry major for now, I know I might change majors. I am into sports and games. I am very competitive, at times, when it comes to games.




Yajie (Angelina) Chen

Hello! I’m Yajie Chen (or Angelina) from China. I grew up in Guangzhou (a city where the best food in China exists), and went to high school in Shenzhen to study A-Level courses. Sociology, Spanish and Theater were my favorites but my major at CC is still undecided. I enjoy hiking and doing farm stays, so Environmental Sciences might be a fit too. In terms of community service and engagement, I’ve been an activist and volunteer in the fields of education, sustainability, feminism and LGBTQ+. I also worked with both local and international NGOs, schools, sociologists and anthropologists in China. I’m a huge fan of post rock and indie, and I listen to a little bit of everything in different languages. My favorite bands are Sigur Rós, Arcade Fire, mol-74 and Beach House. Looking forward to meeting you all and getting to know about each of you!


Daniel Cortes

I am Daniel Cortés. I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and became acquainted with community service during my time attending Amy Biehl High School. Beginning my freshman year, I visited several service sites, each providing me with new skills, and an opportunity to make a difference. The following year, I helped to spearhead “Project NOVA”, an opt-in, week long service trip to Portales, New Mexico, where we assisted New Mexico Christian Children’s Home in their mission to better the lives of vulnerable children. My junior year I remained a part of that project and volunteered at a summer camp. My senior year I conducted a 100-hour service project involving the operation of my own organization. In my free time, I enjoy bike rides, soccer, meditation, and hanging out with my closest friends. I also have a passion for creating and listening to music.



Dylan Hall

My name is Dylan Hall, I’m 18 years old and a 2018 graduate from Nichols School in Buffalo, New York. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, I moved to Buffalo when I was 10. At Nichols, I discovered and explored my interest in languages and cultures; studying Mandarin Chinese for 8 years and Spanish for 3. I plan to continue my study of these languages and others at CC. My life goal is to visit as many countries and learn as many languages as possible. I enjoy listening to music, reading, and watching Netflix in my spare time. My focus on community engagement led me to organize and host the Nichols annual Inclusivity Conference, construct a Black History course my junior year, volunteer with the Home Again organization, and assist with a children’s play day for underprivileged kids at my school. I look forward to becoming a Bonner Fellow and working in the Colorado Springs community.



Annika Koch

My name is Annika Koch, and I grew up in the small town of Zimmerman, Minnesota. I come from a large family of eleven children and one beautiful mother. I have always known I’ve wanted to be a teacher. In high school, I volunteered in mentor groups for younger students and I was an Avid coach. I took a gap year before attending CC. During that time, I dedicated 900 hours of my year to volunteering as a Minnesota Reading Corps tutor at a local preschool. My passion for education has guided a lot of my decisions in my life. I enjoy reading a good book, playing video games, and listening to some great music. My favorite hobbies are sewing and quilting.




Julieta Lechini

My name is Julieta and I am from Montevideo, Uruguay. Since early ages I participated in different organizations such as “Un techo para mi pais”, I was a facilitator at my high school for 2 years and I created a project to build libraries in some of the poorest schools of my city. When I was 16 years old I attended UWC in Germany. Apart from the community events I lead and participated, I worked with refugees and immigrants helping to teach English or doing integration activities. During the last year I went to Senegal for a bridge year and I tried to immerse in the culture, learn the beautiful language of Wolof and be part of many activities such as English classes, a women cooking cooperative and an NGO for children with disabilities. Through my life, experiences taught me the importance of stepping out and learning before trying to help and that to change the world first we need to understand each other. Apart from a deep love to serve, meet people and learn I love anthropology, feminism, traveling, singing and playing (some) sports.


Jasmine Linder

My name is Jasmine Linder and I am so honored to be joining you as a Bonner Fellow! I grew up in Portland Oregon with my single mom and our many pets. In my free time, I love to paint, play the guitar, and hike in Oregon’s beautiful forests! While living in Portland, I have developed a strong passion for many issues, especially those regarding environmental justice and women’s rights. So far, my most influential commitments of service, community engagement, and leadership have been through public protests, as well as two organizations called Outdoor School and Amigos de las Americas. These opportunities have challenged me, but were undoubtedly the most rewarding experiences of my life. Although I have participated in some political activism and service, I am excited to further my experience through the Bonner Fellowship. I can’t wait to get to know you all!



Min Pan

Hello, my name is Min and I am from Los Angeles. Over the past three years, I had the pleasure of participating in a mentoring organization at Minds Matter. My involvement as a mentee instilled an interest in me to help the immigrant and under-resourced communities, specifically to better inform and provide resources for students and families on the education system in the United States. I was also engaged with my school’s track and field team, in which I helped guide and support the underclassmen in jumps. Because of my activities, I hope to learn more about sports medicine, leadership, and the people I will work with and for. One activity I hope to learn at Colorado College would be ice skating. In my free time, I enjoy watching dramas, journal, and attempt to cook.



Maddie Ross

I am a life-long local of the Colorado Springs region here in the Centennial State. Growing up in the downtown area, the non-profit hub has left a major impact on me from an early age. Since accompanying my parents on their volunteer efforts and discovering the vitality of communal spirit over time, engagement with my surroundings has become an ongoing mission. Thus far, I have had the opportunity to become involved with the Pikes Peak Library District, Penrose Hospital, Catamount Institute, and Colorado Springs Teen Court.

Additionally, I enjoy gaining perspective through photography, poetry and literature–am currently intrigued by transcendentalism and Greek theater–and hiking. I am also an advocate for communication (avid speech writer for speech/debate) and a Taekwondo black belt.

Lonnell Schuler

Lonnell Schuler graduated from Manual Arts High School as Senior Vice President in Southern California. In high school, he was the Battalion Commander for the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp program. For the past two years Lonnell has been an avid peer educator for Black Women for Wellness, a community-based non-profit organization, that has empowered him to become an instrumental member in his community. As a peer educator, he taught comprehensive sexual education classes to high school students. His classes include information on birth control, STD/STIs, and healthy relationships. During his time as a peer educator he founded the Youth Advisory Board for BWW. He now aims to lower the rates of STD/STIs in his community and educate his peers on safe sex and healthy relationships. In his spare time, he plays the trumpet, listening to music, and reading.

Students Explore Community-building on Research Trip to Japan

Japanese farm

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Many CC students have amazing summer experiences abroad. One such experience for students this summer was a trip to Japan with Assistant Professor of Art Emma Powell and Professor of Japanese Joan Ericson. The focus on photography alongside Asian studies for this trip was a first, but Ericson has taken students on similar trips previously.

Professors Ericson and Powell wanted to collaborate to support their respective fields, Asian studies and art. From this idea, “we decided to develop this trip, which would give students opportunities to learn first-hand about Japanese culture and making photographs in the field,” explains Powell.

The trip was not a class, but a research trip for both students and professors, with a goal of exploring machi zukuriand the process of town revitalization in Japan. Machi zukuriis the Japanese term for community and town building or revitalization; machi refers to a town or small area, while zukurimeans making or planning.

In practice, Powell explains, “machi zukuriaims to improve or make sustainable a neighborhood or town. It often refers to the active attempts to revitalize small Japanese towns that have declined as populations have moved more and more into the big cities. These efforts are being run by local governments and small groups of residents.”  Japan has taken a particularly proactive approach towards these efforts.

Local people have utilized a variety of approaches to revitalize communities, but everyone is working towards sustainability. To learn about the phenomenon of machi zukuri, the group was able to talk with many CC alumni living in Japan, visit a farm run by a CC alumni, tour many art studios and museums, and meet the mayor of Fujiyoshida, the sister city of Colorado Springs. Students on the trip had the opportunity to choose a more specific topic withinmachi zukuri, and focus their investigations on their own interests.

Powell says one of her favorite activities was the group’s visit to the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, although she says climbing Mount Fuji was memorable for the students. Additionally, Powell says “we all enjoyed the trip to a rural farm run by a CC graduate. The farm was in a beautiful valley and we were able to have a relaxed, in-depth conversation around our topic as we explored the village, and visited his neighbors and a Buddhist temple.”

The trip was funded by the Art Department, Asian Studies Program, Dean’s Office, and HEC.


Japanese tea

CC Paragliders Featured in Pilot Magazine

CC students are featured in this Pilot magazine article.

A View from the Monument Creek Restoration Project

By David Sachs ’20

The Monument Creek Restoration Project is a collaboration between the State of the Rockies Project and Innovation at Colorado College, with support from the Geology Department and the GIS Lab. Inspired by Colorado Springs’ founding principles and Colorado College’s strategic plan, the aim of the project is to create a model framework for the kilometer-long stretch of Monument Creek that forms the western border of campus.

In this phase of the project the team is using a method for research, planning, and design known as geodesign. Geodesign is a multifaceted approach that aims to account for the myriad of factors at play when revitalizing a given area. While traditional planning methods typically focus on research and data aggregation for a specific feature, geodesign relies on a more holistic set of information. This can range from environmental and socio-economic data, to feedback and input from community stakeholders.

This summer, I and a team of two other interns are conducting a pilot study in the stretch of Monument Creek running from the Uintah overpass to the Mesa Bridge a kilometer south. We have been tasked with collecting stream-bed topography at various points along the reach. In addition, we are building a catalog of various elements in the riparian landscape, gathering data on everything from vegetation to extended human presence. The project has provided us the opportunity to meet with various city planners, Colorado Springs Utilities, and other local creek patrons in order to build a deeper understanding of their concerns and more broadly, how Monument Creek is utilized in its present state. Going forward, the team will visualize our data in industry standard GIS software, which provides powerful analytic tools, enabling us to identify key areas for redesign.

Following the data collection and analysis phase, the other interns and I will shift the focus of our work to a GIS modeling software which allows designers to model buildings and vegetation in conjunction with preexisting conditions. The team will attempt to create a plan which can improve storm water quality, aide in flood mitigation, and restore degraded ecological systems. The plan will also seek to create a stronger connection between the creek and the Colorado College campus, enabling further education on hydrology and riparian landscapes in our own backyard. For me, this is one of the most compelling components of the project. By using detailed geospatial data as the framework for design creation, we have the opportunity to achieve a powerful synthesis of science and creativity which truly represents the potency of a liberal arts education. Knowing that down the line our work may help enable a positive change in our community is icing on the cake. Our project parallels ongoing work being done by the Fountain Creek Watershed District, Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation, and The Rocky Mountain Field Institute.

The models and data generated this summer will be used and refined by CC’s Introduction to Geodesign course, which is being offered in Block 8, 2019. Students in this class will have the opportunity to learn the geodesign method and continue conversations with community stakeholders in order to develop models which may be presented to decision makers both on campus, and within city government.

While the work being done here is local, the scope of the project is far greater. The Monument Creek Restoration Plan will be Colorado College’s flagship contribution to Changing our Global Infrastructure, a geodesign collaboration among academic institutions worldwide. Colorado College’s focus on digital liberal arts, and early adoption of the geodesign methodology has enabled CC to be the only four-year liberal arts college to participate. This international Geodesign consortium aims to create a diverse body of work, showcasing the capabilities of the new methodology. Areas of study range from urban centers to wilderness, and initial work will be presented at the International Geodesign Conference in February 2019. Our Geodesign at Colorado College project will also be presenting a poster in September at GIS in the Rockies, the premier geospatial conference of the Rocky Mountain west. Through these conferences we hope to hone our presentation skill as well as gain insight into other implementations of the informational technologies through which we work.

For more information please visit our website.

Student interns are:

  • David Sachs, senior, Interdisciplinary Major
  • Will Rundquist, senior, Geology Major
  • Darryl Filmore, junior, Computer Science Major

Collaborators/mentors are:

  • Christine Siddoway, Geology Professor
  • Matt Cooney, GIS Technical Director
  • Cyndy Hines, Program Coordinator, Innovation and SOTR, with expertise in stream ecology and hydrology