Posts in: Kudos

Congratulations to the Winners of the Inaugural Esports Awards

CC eSports

By Shannon Zander

The inaugural esports awards — the Alaska award and the MysticMonk3y award — were given to Caroline Li ’20 and Andrew Choy ’23, respectively. These two awards, with a prize of $500 each, were generously created by an anonymous donor in the summer of 2019. The donor established the criteria for each award, and the Colorado College esports team chose to name the awards after influential CC students who helped to grow the esports community. Candidates were nominated by their peers and the final selection was made by a judge outside of the program selected by the anonymous donor.

The first ever Alaska award, named after Lilly Chen’s ’19 gamer tag, “Alaska,” was awarded to Li. A criterion of winning this award is that the recipient must be “a member of the esports community who significantly contributes to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment,” according to the nomination form. Li, who has been a member of the esports community since her junior year, won the award due to her “immense passion for esports” and commitment “to growing the esports community in a meaningful and diverse way.” Li’s nominator also mentioned that she especially embodies the qualities of this award “in her extended commitment to Fem Friday, a program that works to grow the esports community in a meaningful and diverse way.”

The MysticMonk3y award, named after Henry Hinds’ ’19 gamer tag, emphasizes passion and leadership in esports while maintaining academic excellence. The recipient must be a player on the roster of an esports team, maintain a minimum of a 3.5 GPA, and demonstrate good sportsmanship, teamwork, professional behavior, and a passion for esports. Andrew Choy ’23, a first-year student, is this year’s recipient. Choy was commended in his nomination form for his efforts in welcoming others into the esports community, his dedication to helping with esports events, and his desire to see esports thrive at Colorado College. He even started a new unofficial team, all while striving for and maintaining academic excellence.

Congratulations to both Caroline Li and Andrew Choy!

“Thorne Miniatures” Thesis Piano Composition Dedicated to Two Music Faculty

Grace Hale's Thorne Miniatures

By Grace Hale ’20

“Thorne Miniatures” is a collection of six miniature piano compositions each inspired by one of Narcissa Thorne’s miniature rooms found in the basement of the Art Institute of Chicago. Thorne’s miniature rooms are best described as model rooms of mostly European and American interiors built during the 1930s and 1940s. One of the most peculiar characteristics of Thorne’s miniature rooms is the absence of any human figures. Instead, she hints at human existence with small inanimate objects like a soccer ball or books. This is the role of the “Thorne Miniatures” to supply the musical scenes in such a way that fills this lifeless void. The “Thorne Miniatures” is an ode to childhood and imagination as explored in the museum collection.

During my four years at Colorado College, I had the privilege of studying composition very closely under Professor Ofer Ben-Amots and piano performance under Sue Grace. It was only appropriate that I would construct my thesis as a culmination of the two disciplines and the time spent with these mentors. I thank them both for giving me a new love of music and a drive to always create more. It is to them that I dedicate my “Thorne Miniatures.”

When CC moved to digital learning for the rest of the 2020 Spring Semester, I found myself in need of a piano for practice. With the help of Ofer and Sue, I was connected with a man named Phil Erklen who offered his studio as a place for me to practice near where I was living this spring. Little did I know that much more would come of this connection. In my time there, I signed a contract with Phil to publish my “Thorne Miniatures”through the CCC Music Company. With the publication, we created this video as a reference tool for those who purchase the music.


CCE Continues Work With Remote Engagement Opportunities

By: Miriam Brown ’21

For staff and students continuing engagement through the Colorado College Collaborative for Community Engagement, the term “community” is taking on new meaning.

Civic leadership paraprofessional Sophia Pray ’19 says the CCE staff has been working to accommodate student schedules and help find them meaningful remote engagement opportunities.

“These times are completely riddled with uncertainty, so we are trying to prioritize making sure that students have financial security for those who work for us, ways to meaningfully connect with their communities and our staff and peer groups, and ways to show up remotely for their values right now,” Pray says.

Students in the Community Engaged Fellows program are wrapping up their credit with Facebook discussions and a cumulative reflective essay, and graduating students in the Community Engaged Leaders program are still working remotely on their capstone projects with CCE staff. And for others looking for ways to continue engagement remotely, the CCE staff compiled an 11-page document of engagement and learning opportunities.

Pray says some students have even been finding new communities in this time. The CC chapter of Sunrise Movement, a national organization advocating for political action to combat the climate crisis, has amped up their engagement at this time, Pray says. The group has been hosting biweekly Zoom meetings to connect and coordinate activism efforts, and The Colorado Sun recently ran an article by member Isabel Hicks ’22 about the group, headlined, “When coronavirus prompted my college to quickly close, it brought me to tears. Then I found my community.”

Examples of other individual students continuing their work through the CCE are wide-ranging. To name a few, Community Engaged Fellow Heba Shiban ’21 has been making paintings to be delivered to her local nursing home. Fellow Tamar Crump ’23 is continuing tutoring with the Refugee Alliance, teaching English via Zoom to a family from the Congo. Community Engaged Leader Natalie Sarver ’20 is working on the front lines as a nurse in Colorado Springs.

“It’s definitely been a hard transition for a lot of folks feeling like they’re losing community, but also I think more than ever, our students are feeling a call to action,” Pray says.

Pictured, Heba Shiban ’21 displays some paintings she has made for her local nursing home.









Colorado College’s Collaborative for Community Engagement creates and supports community-engaged learning experiences for CC students as they apply their liberal arts education and connect with our campus community and beyond. Hear from Director Jordan Travis Radke, Community Partnership Development Coordinator Niki Sosa, and Civic Leadership Program Coordinator Sophie Pray ’19 as they reflect on community engagement during the Coronavirus pandemic.

From Home, On Air with Abigail Beckman

91.5 KRCC's Abigail Beckman

By Shannon Zander

While for many of us working from home means sitting down anywhere with a laptop and an internet connection, not all jobs are as easy to transport home. Take Abigail Beckman’s job as Morning Edition host/reporter at 91.5 KRCC. Beckman was kind enough to let us in on what her transition to working from home has been like. She noted that the transition was initially overwhelming due to the lack of the usual technology and resources she is used to, but she commended the engineers and 91. 5 KRCC staff members for banding together to make the transition “as seamless as possible.”

A particularly challenging aspect of Beckman’s shift to working from home was finding a place in her home to do interviews and file stories without too much background noise and interference. Beckman mentioned that many reporters resort to “weird places in an effort to absorb sound—closets, under blankets, etc.” She was able to repurpose her guest-bedroom closet by hanging a blanket to absorb noise and placing a towel under her laptop, commenting, “it is not glamorous, but it works.”

But Abigail has found perks to working from home. She mentioned her appreciation for being able to eat breakfast together with her husband for the first time in two years — hosting a morning radio show means that Beckman usually departs long before he wakes up. She has also enjoyed watching her cat, Tikka, fall asleep on her laptop and spending time with her dog, Moose. Her two, furry “co-hosts” have mostly been well-behaved: “There have only been a few occasions where I’ve had to kick them out of the room for making too much noise. I think they are taking their new roles as radio hosts very seriously!”

91.5 KRCC has several new exciting projects underway in response to the pandemic. “Shortening the Distance” is a project that focuses on how individuals are keeping connected despite isolation. She commented that she believes these stories “will serve as great records of the historical moments we’re living through.”

Beckman even mentioned how she’s been coping with the isolation. Though she views herself as an introvert, the pandemic has opened her eyes to how much she needs the human interaction. Although she’s been able to participate in Zoom calls with her family and see them from a distance, Beckman expressed a sentiment that many of us are feeling: “I wish I could hug them. I wish I could meet my mom for coffee and just chat. I won’t ever take time with loved ones for granted again.

Pet Kitty Tikka

CC Seniors Sew Masks to Support Fight Against COVID-19

By: Miriam Brown ’21

When Georgie Nahass ’20 learned how a friend from home was making masks to help fill a gap in the Coronavirus pandemic, he and his housemates Max Pil ’20, Hugh Alessi ’20, and Cat Gill ’20 joined the efforts by learning how to sew. The four have since made and given away around 90 masks, and they’re not done yet.

Nahass’s friend from home is a professional seamstress, so after they expressed interest in starting a small mask-making operation at their house in Colorado Springs, she sent them instructional sewing videos, along with a box of elastic and 400 pre-cut pieces of fabric. They then borrowed one sewing machine from their landlord and bought another online, borrowed an ironing board from their neighbor, and borrowed fabric-cutting equipment from Cathy Buckley, assistant director for community connections at Colorado College. In a day or two, they were in business.

“That was kind of the impetus behind it,” Nahass says. “You have so much time on your hands, you can learn to sew, which is a cool life skill, and you also get to make a difference in the community.”

With 90 masks, they were able to outfit the whole CC Sodexo custodial staff, some members of Campus Safety, a couple residential life coordinators, and some CC professors and alumni. The rest of the masks they plan to donate to a local hospital.

Now, the group is waiting for a new shipment of elastic to begin making more. Other CC students still living in Colorado Springs have since expressed interest in also making masks, so for the next round, the group hopes to sanitize and distribute materials to expand operations.

“We’re just going to keep making them until we leave I think,” Nahass says. “It’s a pretty low time commitment, and it’s a pretty easy way to help others.”

If you would like to donate elastic material, a sewing machine, or an ironing board to the group’s mask-making efforts, contact


Students Deal with Distance Through Weekly Gaming Meet-Ups

By Miriam Brown ’21

As Colorado College settles into its first block of distance learning, some students are using online gaming as a way to stay connected.

Every Tuesday from 2-4 p.m., Esports Coordinator Josh Lauer ’19 hosts a virtual meet-up on Jackbox, a platform of multi-player party games that people can play together from anywhere with internet. Lauer will start a game and share his screen, and students can join his game remotely through voice chat. A lot of the games can be done in 10-20 minutes, Lauer says, so some students will jump in for one game, while others will stick around for the full two hours.

Lauer himself has been using Jackbox for a while to keep in touch with busy or out-of-state friends, so when CC students moved off campus, he knew it could be a way to keep people together. For his session during CC’s scheduled Spring Break, about 15 people joined in, and though the number went down once the block started, it’s accomplishing his goal just the same.

“I think it is accomplishing at least getting people back together and getting people talking,” Lauer says. “Even though it was only a couple students last time, it was just nice to join a voice chat, and they could talk with me or vent.”

And Lauer’s not the only one noticing the current benefits of remote gaming. Other members of CC’s community have since contacted Lauer asking for assistance on how to set Jackbox up, and CC’s board game club has also been hosting virtual meet-ups of their own. Some CC students even teamed up to build a virtual version of Tutt Library in Minecraft.

“It’s just nice knowing that the word has spread,” Lauer says. “Then if Tuesdays don’t work for people, there are still other options for more student engagement.”

It’s not too late to join CC’s broader gaming community. Interested students can contact Lauer for information on how to join the CC Esports Discord Server, which currently has about 300 students.


CC Journalism Students Hit the Ground as Reporters in Local Communities

Journalism Students

By Sarah Senese ’22

Throughout the Fall 2019 semester, Colorado College’s journalism program was publishing with full force. Professor Corey Hutchins’ Block 4 class Advanced Reporting in the Digital Age produced three fully published pieces in Colorado news sources, such as PULP (Pueblo), The Colorado Independent (Denver), and The Colorado Sun (Denver). These students worked in groups to interview, explore, and dig deeply into an issue directly impacting Colorado.

Attesting to the hard work of the students in his class, Hutchins commented on the dedication and hard work of Journalism Institute students: “They took the reporting seriously, and put in many, many hours of outside-the-classroom effort to conduct interviews, report in the field, attend public meetings, dig through documents, and put the news-gathering skills they learned in class into real-life action.”

Don’t just take Hutchins’ word for it, though. Ask John Rodriguez, publisher of PULP, who accepted a group of students’ pitches that would end up filling 16 pages of the January 2020 edition. He boasted about the quality of the CC Journalism students’ work.

“For us and the region, nothing like this has been pulled off, so we were pleasantly surprised that the students went above and beyond what we asked of them,” says Rodriguez. 

Original, on-the-ground reporting in local communities is a staple of higher-level CC Journalism Institute classes. It allows students the vital opportunity to explore the areas of this region on a deeper level and to better understand the communities and cultures of which they are a part. The stories they produce not only help them grasp the reality of a journalism profession and begin to resume build, but help local news outlets publish young stories at a time when the local news industry is struggling. “They wowed me with their dedication and their diligence,” says Colorado Independent Managing Editor Tina Griego of the students who reported a story about the local affordable housing debate.

Ale Tejeda ’20 published a piece in the Colorado Independent about a 2020 ballot question asking whether voters should re-introduce wolves to Colorado. The article was one of the top five most-read stories in the publication for three months. Tejeda’s work is another testament to the success of the Journalism Institute and the dedication its students have to getting their work out to readers in the local and regional area, as well as their in focus on community-based, Colorado issues.

Though the journalism students bring a variety of experiences and backgrounds to class, when you go to CC, you live in Colorado Springs. Hutchins, along with institute director and professor of English Steve Hayward, make sure that students in CC’s journalism program understand the importance of staying up to date on local events, and how their voices can help the community know just what’s going on a little better.

Students’ Published Work:

High Hopes in PULP

ADUs in The Colorado Independent 

Witches of Manitou in The Colorado Sun

Wolves in The Colorado Independent

Steeped in Community — Connecting Coffee and Change in Guatemala

Students in Guatemala for the Coffee Challenge

As Told by Emma Holinko-Brossman ’20

The Block Plan is notorious for classes that are in-depth, creative, and challenging. The “Coffee Marketing Challenge” is a great example of that. Selling artisan coffee presents its own challenges, but the students’ trip to Guatemala opened their eyes to the fuller picture of the story. That story is shared here by author Emma Holinko-Brossman ’20, who took the challenge in Block 5.

The “Coffee Marketing Challenge,” with Visiting Faculty Member-in-Residence John Mann, is a farm-to-market marketing project connecting local artisanal coffee growers in Guatemala to craft coffee consumers in Colorado Springs.

Students work in teams to apply core marketing principles to define a target market, create and refine marketing concepts, and then produce and sell packaged coffee sourced from growers. Mary Jenkins ’21, one of the students, describes her experience: “It was amazing to connect with a place, build a team. This was not an easy task, but we took each mistake in stride: and celebrated each win together.” The student teams work with a craft coffee roaster in the Colorado Springs area for production and packaging.

The towns in Guatemala were all on Lake Atitlan, nestled between active volcanos, the streets were vibrant with colorful buildings, the smell of fresh tortillas, and warm smiles.

Being there for a week only made it clear that a student could spend a lifetime learning about Mayan heritage, traditions, and how coffee was ingrained in the Guatemalans’ lives. One of the many people who became part of our story of Guatemala was Petrona.

Petrona invited us and other groups involved with The Organization for the Development of Indigenous Maya, into her home. Her family, spanning several generations would be around to greet us as Petrona fed us food that was delicious and heartwarming. She became the namesake of our coffee, Petrona Coffee, because her story exemplified what it meant to be a powerful community member. She has grown her own business, she is a gracious host, and she cares for everyone as her own. She used her business to help her family with education, healthcare, housing, and nutrition. These values are the missions of ODIM, who she now proudly supports, and with whom we proudly partnered.

The coffee challenge itself created two teams, equal in coffee and experience. We both created brands, channels for selling, and crafted a story to shed light on our experiences in Guatemala. The coffee itself is amazing, a medium roasted breakfast blend, it is not too acidic, and a little sweet. Creating a business for a week is something that provides a taste of what so many small-business people do: It is thrilling and stressful wrapped in one.

Professor Mann, has spent many years working in consumer goods, beer mostly, crafting stories on a large scale. The partnership in Guatemala was started through relationships he and his wife developed working with church groups to travel there over the last decade.

He looks to this program and sees a catalyst for a much broader program, one where it isn’t about just selling coffee, but many other specialties. Imagine this program expanding into cultural heritage, environmental impacts, religion, Spanish language, and many more Colorado College programs. He says he loves the towns we have had the chance to visit and loved seeing the increased vitality in especially San Juan La Laguna. “It is cleaner and the people seem happier,” he says.

Get Ready for Big Idea 2020

CC’s Big Idea competition, put on by Creativity & Innovation at Colorado College, invites groups of students to develop new, innovative ideas and pitch their ideas in front of local investors for seed funding in a traditional business-pitch format.

Now in its eighth year, the Big Idea competition seeks to give students an opportunity to develop their business ideas through mentorship and collaboration, supporting students with a wide range of interests and backgrounds to access the program. The format for the competition has changed slightly for 2020. Students teams competed in front of a panel of judges in the semifinal round for four spots in The Big Idea final event. Rather than selecting ranked winners at the final round, the four teams will each receive $7,500 in seed funding to continue to develop their ideas. This new format ensures that the four finalist teams are guaranteed seed funding, and also provides an opportunity for the teams to gain professional experience pitching their ventures in front of an audience.

Some of the student teams are getting involved for the first time in their CC career. But no matter if they are seasoned Big Idea veterans or newcomers, every student has a chance to participate in the Big Idea Changemaker workshops, attend a Half-Block course helping them refine their presentations and critique one another’s projects, and be part of a community of individuals who are excited to change the world with new, innovative ideas.

Infinite Chemistry was one of four finalist teams in 2019 and did not receive funding. They returned this year to compete again and were chosen as the top team by the majority of the judges. “What they accomplished over the last year was astounding and their increased confidence as presenters was remarkable,” says Dez Stone Menendez ’00, director of Creativity and Innovation at CC. They’ve been awarded $7,500 in seed funding this year and will present in the finals.

 Lauren Weiss ’21, a computer science major, has competed in the Big Idea for the last three years. She made it to the finals her first year with a fitness app and she competed last year and didn’t make it to the finals with her company Geek Girl that seeks to empower more young women to pursue computer science. She returned to the semi-finals with Geek Girl this year and was chosen as a finalist. Her team will also receive $7,500 in seed funding.

“When I first started learning computer science, I was fortunate enough to have a female figure in my life to provide guidance and motivate me when I was feeling intimidated in such a male-dominated industry,” Weiss says of the inspiration for Geek Girl. “I know that most young women do not have the same opportunity for mentorship, so I made it a goal of mine when I got to CC to figure out a way to help high school-aged girls realize their potential when pursuing computer science.”

With innovation, creativity, and a community of like-minded students who are excited to help one another, the Big Idea competition is helping create the business owners of tomorrow.

“I hope to gain a greater sense of the difficulties an entrepreneur faces,” says Weiss of why she’s looking to gain from the big Idea competition. “These days, it seems like entrepreneurship is really glorified, and I think this perspective causes people to ignore the challenges that accompany starting a business. If I could get even a taste of what it means to be an entrepreneur from the Big Idea, I would really benefit by being more self-aware as I make my way into the professional world.”

Come celebrate this year’s Big Idea 2020 finalists as they present their venture ideas on Thursday, Feb. 27, from 3 to 5 p.m. in Celeste Theatre. Four teams will present their ideas: Journalista, Geek Girl, MemorMe, and Infinite Chemistry.

Journalista is a community marketplace connecting journalists directly with readers in order to promote the ideals of robust local reporting and ethical journalism.
Noah Weeks ’20
Benedict Wright ’20
Kobi Bhattacharyya ’20

Geek Girl works to close the gender gap in technology by identifying young girls who have taken an interest in computer science and providing them with mentorship opportunities to maintain their enthusiasm for technology.
Lauren Weiss ’21
Melissa LaFehr ’20
Sara Hanahan ’21
Maddi Schink ’23

MemorMe is an app based upon the premise that objects are often homes for our memories and feelings; this app uses psychological association to ensure that memories outlive their physical shells by providing them with a new digital home.
Tony Mastromarino ’23
Saigopal Rangaraj ’23
James Dollard ’22

Infinite Chemistry is a software that allows users to import molecules from any online chemical database and manipulate them in virtual reality, providing an opportunity to get data on the molecules’ symmetry and observe molecules interacting and reacting in real time.
Prakhar Gautam ’20
Paul Price ’20
Cameron MacDonald ’20
Tian Lee ’20
Pietro Giacomin ’20

Congratulations to the four finalist teams!

CC Speech and Debate Brings Home Win, Heads to Tokyo

CC Speech and Debate

By Sarah Senese ’23

This past January, the Colorado College Speech and Debate team brought home the title “First Place Overall Sweepstakes,” attesting to the hard work of both the team members and their coach, Sarah Hinkle.

First Place Overall Sweepstakes is awarded to the team that not only has the highest number of students placing well within their individual events but to the team whose students have the best overall speaker points. These students spoke the most eloquently, made their points the strongest, and put the most heart into the topics that mean the most to them.

What’s special about the CC speech and debate team, is that unlike the other colleges and universities that compete with teams of 20-40 students, CC has just six dedicated students. These students, despite being outnumbered by all of the teams in competition, managed to place in the top three of most of their events — earning their title “First Place Overall Sweepstakes.”

Sarah Hinkle, coach of the speech and debate team, is visibly proud of her students when asked to speak on their win. For Hinkle, the most impressive part of the team is not their winning streak or ability to bring home trophies, but their love for the sport. The students have a “heart for politics, global events, and platforming social change, and that’s what CC is all about — using your power for good. And these students do that through competition.”

Member of the team Colleen Campbell ’23, has equally prideful comments on her accomplishments at their last competition at the University of Utah. For Campbell, “winning isn’t why I do speech and debate. Representing the college well and the team well is why I do it. What we won we did together, through pride and comradery.”

Alanna Jackson ’23 also mentions what speech and debate means to her, “learning, being vulnerable, finding experiences that you’ve dealt with, and using them to push your piece to the next level — that’s what it’s all about. And I know that when I push myself, my team will be there to support me.”

The CC speech and debate team, though it be small, be mighty. Five out of the six students on the team will be competing in Tokyo, Japan, representing Colorado College at the International Speech and Debate Tournament during Block 6. Good luck:

Noah Hirshorn ’20
Deksyos Damtew ’22
Stephen Sigman ’22
Alanna Jackson ’23
Colleen Campbell ’23