Posts in: Kudos
By Montana Bass ’18
This season has been a spectacular one for CC’s Speech and Debate team, with Russel Skorina ’18 and Victor Torres ’18 competing in the national competition, and CC’s Mock Trial teams, which had both the A and B teams (similar to the varsity and junior varsity team structure) make it to the regional competition. This is the first year that the B team has made it past the regional competition the national qualifier Opening Round Championship Series, along with the A team, a season made sweeter by Cole Simon ’20 winning an “Outstanding Attorney Award,” and the “Outstanding Witness Award,” a major achievement at this level of competition as only a small number are awarded.
Speech Coach Sarah Hinkle, who also works as the head acting coach for the Mock Trial teams, says students’ dedication paid off this year. “It takes a lot of time to get to this level of competitive success,” Hinkle says of her students. “We can’t openly recruit top-notch, competitive high school speakers because we can’t offer scholarships like publicly funded universities do. This is a club setting, but we are asking for scholarship-level commitment. It’s just your word saying ‘I’m not going to let my peers down.’”
CC’s Mock Trial teams are coached by alumna and 4th Judicial District Court Judge Regina Walter ’80, who founded the program four years ago. CC has sent a team to the national qualifying round every year since, and this year sent two teams to the national qualifying round for the first time.
Even with the end of the season, Torres says he’s not planning on slowing down. This past season was his first with the speech and debate team and he went straight to nationals in the Prose and Program Oral Interpretation events with Hinkle’s help. Once he decided to commit to speech this year, says Torres, “I gave as much dedication as possible, especially to my interpretation events. We worked on it together. Sarah was the big player in finding the pieces and I was the actor.”
Making it to nationals was a shock and though Torres did not place there, it only fueled his ambition for next year. “I witnessed some fantastic things at nationals. I’m reading a lot of books to figure out what I want to do next year. I’ll meet with Sarah over the summer so I can start out the year and hit it hard. I hope to make it to nationals with more events, but even if I just qualify, at least I’ll get to go.”
For the students who have seen such success under Hinkle’s tutelage, however, the commitment is immensely rewarding. Wynter Haley Scott ’18 has worked closely with Hinkle throughout her three years in mock trial, developing her already-solid acting skills and preparing for a career in law. “I wanted to incorporate skills I learned in acting into something that’s more of a career and that I would enjoy,” says Scott. “It’s really easy to see how acting skills translate into being a witness, since you’re taking on a persona. But it’s so important for attorneys, too. What wins trials isn’t the evidence, it’s how well you come across as believable and unbiased.”
For Simon, winner of the Outstanding Witness Award, the acting skills he developed with Hinkle and their incorporation into strategy he developed with new B team coach Ansel Carpenter ’16, his first season was already a stand out. “It was a total dream,” says Carpenter of watching students who had no previous mock trial experience excel so quickly. They had a depth of talent that not only gave them a solid A team (or varsity level squad), but also to have strong performance with the B team. “I feel really lucky that we had such a great group with good interpersonal dynamics. That, the team’s skill and their hard work are the main reasons that this B Team, which isn’t necessarily our most experienced students, became the most successful we have seen at CC.”
By Montana Bass ’18
During the final weeks of Block 8, Naomi Van der Land ’17 and Alejandro Perez ’17 have been spending time at the Fine Arts Center. They’re working with five high school students and a local graffiti artist who goes by FUSE, collaborating on an art project that will soon be on display in the halls of Bemis School of Art.
It’s the extension of a long-time collaboration between Bemis and Colorado Springs School District 11’s program for at-risk high school students, students who have not succeeded in a traditional school environment. “This project gets them interested, gets them engaged,” says Tony Acosta, a special education teacher with District 11. “We’re able to get them out of their comfort zones, out of the classroom. It develops their coping skills.”
The impact for the high school participants goes far beyond developing their artistic talents. “I hope it involves all of the kids and that they feel like they’ve really accomplished something in creating a piece of art,” says Perez, a CC studio art major who had met FUSE a few years ago at a previous FAC exhibit opening. “It’s important to give younger kids different ways they can express themselves. It’s been super relaxed and positive.”
Social worker Devra Allen adds that it helps build confidence, “if they can venture into the unknown here as part of the art project, do something that makes them scared and succeed, it builds their confidence to think, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’ And for kids who have attendance issues in school, this gives them something to show up for and to be a part of.”
The team is spray-painting the mural onto a piece of wood salvaged from a former FAC theatre set. This means they’re working outside, in open air, and have been battling the elements of spring Colorado Springs weather in order to get the project done. Despite challenges, after just three painting sessions over the course of a few weeks, the students are nearly done with the project, which will be a mural with the word “BEMIS” in graffiti-style lettering. Each student submitted sketches of their personal ideas to FUSE, and the artist incorporated different elements into one plan.
High schooler Amy VonSeht says being part of the mural’s creation helped her embrace the unknown. “I’ve never done graffiti before; it’s a good experience. It’s something new to try. It’s very expressive,” she says, “I’ve done other classes and projects at Bemis, but this is the biggest.”
Some of the students feel hesitant to paint, nervous they’ll make a mistake. “I don’t want to mess it up. I’ve never done graffiti before, but I draw,” says Dominic Makinano, another high school participant. But the students are supportive, encouraging one another, “Just do it!” he adds as VonSeht considers picking up a paint can after Makinano is done with his portion, “I’m still afraid, but I just do it!”
FUSE does not just show the kids how to paint in the context of the project, he also teaches them about the history of graffiti as an art form, one he has been involved in for over 30 years. “I started when I was young, and I didn’t have a mentor then. The best way to learn is to get with someone who’s been doing it a long time,” he says. Now at the FAC, “Everyone gets painting time. I let them decide – with graffiti, the decision making is on the fly, it’s spontaneous.”
“It’s about giving them choices,” says Tara Thomas, executive director of education at the FAC. “Because of various issues, they don’t have a lot of choice. This gives them that freedom.”
The project provides students a freedom to express their own creativity in ways they may not otherwise have an opportunity, to thrive using art to build relationships and self-confidence.
The completed mural is scheduled to be unveiled Monday, May 22, and will remain on display in the Bemis School of Art stairway.
By Alana Aamodt ’18
Faculty, students, and alumni of the Physics Department came together last block for a weekend of talks, reconnections, and celebration in honor of a Physics Homecoming and the retirement of longtime professor Barbara Whitten.
The festivities began with two talks by world-renowned physicist Kip Thorne, who spoke on his personal role in the discovery of gravitational waves in a more intimate physics talk and prior to his broader lecture to campus and community members. One of the most influential living physicists, Thorne also served as the graduate advisor to Patricia Purdue, associate professor of physics and department chair, who introduced each of his talks. The evening concluded with an opening reception and time for alumni, faculty, and students to socialize with one another and with Thorne.
The following day was full of various alumni speakers and current professors giving talks such as “The Secret Life of Stellar Interactions” by Natalie Gosnell ’08, a new tenure-track CC professor, and “Household Energy and Health in Developing Countries” by Michael Johnson ’99. The day’s festivities concluded with a dinner in celebration of Whitten’s retirement, where friends, colleagues, and students spoke about her character and career.
Whitten received her B.A. from Carleton College in 1968 and went on to receive her Ph.D. in Computational Atomic Physics from University of Rochester. She was the first female faculty member in the Physics Department at Colorado College, where she explored her passion for diversifying physics and played a major role in shaping the department to become what it is today. Over the course of the last few decades, she has expanded beyond the realm of physics, exploring environmental science, feminist and gender studies, history, and sociology in conjunction with her love of physics. She’s played a pioneering role in encouraging inclusivity in the physics community, publishing papers covering topics like “What Works for Women in Undergraduate Physics? What We Can Learn from Women’s Colleges,” and she is part of a team to receive over $700,000 in grant money to develop a mentoring network for isolated female physicists.
After many years working as a professor, leaving CC is not easy for Whitten. When asked what she’ll miss the most about working at the college, she replied, the “sense I have of a community where we support each other. With all the things I’ve done here, I’ve had a sense that you were all behind me.” Even more so, she goes on to say she’ll miss “teaching and working with students. I love working with undergraduates, when you have something exciting you want to do, helping you figure out how best to do it. Helping you figure out the next step in your lives. And of course, helping you learn physics.”
Of her favorite part of the event, Whitten says “the most wonderful and memorable moment was when [the] women physics majors stood up together. [They] were behind me, so I turned around and saw them all standing there together—I still can’t talk about it without getting choked up.” She goes on to explain, “When I was an undergraduate many years ago, I was the only woman, not only in my class but in the five years around me,” accentuating the pride she has in her students.
In honor of Whitten and her contributions to CC, the college created the Barbara Whitten Prize for Women in the Natural Sciences this year; it will be given to “a woman student in the natural sciences who exemplifies Whitten’s model of achieving personal scientific excellence while helping others do the same. Personal scientific excellence is a combination of an excellent academic record in the natural sciences, and/or exceptional research in a scientific field. The recipient should also demonstrate a significant commitment to the advancement of women or underrepresented groups in the sciences through scholarly, community, pedagogical, or other work.”
This year’s recipient is Zoe Pierrat ’17, an environmental physics major and chemistry minor. A crowdfunding campaign is also underway to increase the dollar amount of the award.
Pierrat shares, “Barbara taught my first ‘real’ physics class, Modern Physics, and she didn’t hold back in terms of making the course difficult, but every step of the way she was encouraging and helpful with anything we needed as students. She has the ability to see people’s potential and always pushes them there.” After receiving the award at the Honors Convocation, Pierrat says, “I can’t even begin to say what it means to receive the Whitten Award, but overall I’m just incredibly grateful to have gotten so much support from fellow students and faculty.”
Whitten says after she retires, she’s planning plenty of travel, including trips to Iceland, Hawaii, and L’Anse aux Meadows (a Viking settlement in Newfoundland). She also has several in-progress research projects that she intends to complete in the next couple of years, and will spend more time with her children and take some time to relax.
Whitten also says that she’ll continue to study physics. “Even after 50 years as a physicist, there is so much I don’t know and would like to: Astrophysics, cosmology, and general relativity are at the top of my list.” While Whitten moves on from teaching at CC, her impact on the CC community will remain.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
When motivated students are paired with knowledgeable faculty, great projects and research often are produced. This is certainly the case for Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Rebecca Barnes and Colleen Orr ’17. The duo has published two articles this year in Sustainability: The Journal of Record as part of the publication’s “Campus Nitrogen Footprints” issue. As one of the articles explains, the release of reactive nitrogen into the environment has consequences beyond climate change – it also directly impairs water quality, air quality, and the health of the biosphere. Barnes co-authored “Calculating Institution Nitrogen Footprints Creates Connections across Campus;” Barnes and Orr co-authored “Leveraging the Nitrogen Footprint to Increase Campus Sustainability,” both of which appeared in Sustainability.
Barnes has been working with the Colorado College Office of Sustainability for the past two years on her own nitrogen research, and also works with students doing theses on similar topics. Barnes’ research began in 2015 during her first year at CC, when a colleague at Brown University suggested she and CC join a group of schools already researching their nitrogen footprints. The next year, 2016, Barnes taught a course called Human Impacts of Biogeochemical Cycles and had her students create a preliminary nitrogen footprint for the college.
Orr and Barnes first met during that course and discovered their research interests coincided. The class’s nitrogen footprint information came from food data from Bon Appetit, which provides food service on campus, and Orr was interested in continuing the work. She ended up working as Barnes’ research assistant, using the data in her thesis, and in their article titled “Leveraging the Nitrogen Footprint to Increase Campus Sustainability.”
This work on developing a nitrogen footprint for CC is part of a larger research project, called the Nitrogen Footprint Cohort. It’s a group of 18 schools that are working to incorporate nitrogen footprint data into their sustainability initiatives; CC currently is working on establishing initial information about the school’s nitrogen footprint. Although Orr says she doesn’t plan to continue nitrogen footprint research post-CC, working with Barnes taught her a lot. “Besides everything I’ve learned from her about nitrogen and using research tools like Excel, Becca has been an amazing professor, mentor, and friend to me for the past three years. I gained research and field work experience, as well as had incredible opportunities to attend conferences and publish an article because of her guidance and influence,” Orr explains. About Orr, Barnes says her “knowledge of campus and the student body was extremely helpful in thinking through the various sustainability scenarios.”
Although Orr will be graduating, Barnes will continue her work on Colorado College’s nitrogen footprint. She hopes that her research will “illustrate to CC that many of the sustainability efforts already happening on campus decrease both our nitrogen and carbon footprints,” and “will help move us toward more complete accounting of our ecological impacts.”
By Montana Bass ’18
A special collaboration is on display in Block 8: CC student art work will be featured at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center. Jenny Welden ’17 and Jake Paron ’17 were chosen in a campus-wide call for student art installation proposals. Nelson Kies ’18 originally envisioned the project, which is indicative of a growing partnership between Colorado College and the FAC. In celebration of the new alliance, a committee composed of FAC staff and CC faculty selected the students’ proposals to create site-specific installations for the FAC courtyard.
Kies approached curator Jessica Hunter-Larsen last year with a wish for more space for students to display their artwork. Coincidentally, the development of the CC-FAC alliance provided an opportunity for Kies and Hunter-Larsen to focus on a venue for students, which presented an exciting new opportunity for student artists to showcase their work in a prestigious space. “Proposing installations in the FAC was initially intimidating because of the caliber of artwork that is featured in the museum,” Kies admits, “but I was completely overcome by all the support that was provided to this project.”
Hunter-Larsen says this installation encourages students to challenge themselves to connect their art to the community. “I think this kind of program offers wonderful opportunities for students to think through some of the issues surrounding art in public spaces, and affords our community an equally wonderful opportunity to experience our students’ creativity,” she says. Kies adds, “This art project provides an avenue for community members to engage with student thought. Additionally, the insular nature of the CC community can benefit from sharing with the community they belong to.”
Chosen for their attention to the specific site where their works will be displayed — the FAC courtyard — seniors Welden and Paron, both studio art majors, will be the first to creatively initiate this connection. Welden’s “Heart of the Mountain” installation represents the foundations of textile art through the use of non-fibrous materials. These materials create a network of interlocking fragments, demonstrating the dual contributions of the natural and the sacred in a textile image. “I hope that viewers may understand new connections between the forces of the sacred and of the natural in the art of textile through these non-fibrous forms,” Welden says of her piece.
Paron constructed his piece, “Alterne,” out of a non-native grass species that covers much of the landscape surrounding institutions in the Colorado Springs area. The piece explores how the lawn is used to represent nature. However, in an attempt to represent nature, the lawn substitutes the natural composition native to a specific site. “Making art is something I have always done instinctually,” Paron says, “But recently I have been fascinated with studying ideas and philosophies through form. Making art has become an important way for me to communicate ideas to myself and others.”
The installations will be on view in the FAC courtyard Friday, April 28-Tuesday, May 23. You’re invited to the CC Student Artist Exhibition Opening Friday, April 28, 4:30-6:30 p.m., to honor these student artists and further celebrate the FAC CC alliance.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
The CC’s men’s ultimate Frisbee team is made up of a strong group of talented athletes, and this season they have big goals. The team is currently ranked in the top five teams nationally, and they hope to cement this status at the national tournament in May.
Last year, the team made it to the national competition and this season, they hope to place higher, making it to the national semi-final round. Grant Mitchell ’17 says they came into the season with “higher expectations than we have in a while.” This is principally due to the “large and talented” senior class, individuals who Mitchell describes as “important on the field and as emotional leaders for our team.” Despite these expectations and prior successes, Mitchell says the team reamains pleasantly surprised by how well they’ve been doing. He explains, “getting first place in a tournament and taking down our regional rival Air Force really showed us that we have a chance to make a run in the series this year.”
Even though the team is currently ranked third in Division III by the Ultiworld Ultimate Frisbee rankings, they have yet to qualify for the national tournament in Lexington, Kentucky, coming up May 20 and 21. Mitchell explains that “everything leading up to the series helps to earn bids for the region you are in.” Now the team has to play through sectionals, then regionals, and place top three in the region to move to nationals. Once there, the team is hoping for the accomplishment of making the semi-finals, and possibly going onto the finals.
Although this year’s senior class is strong, Mitchell expects the 2018 season to continue current successes. “We have a ton of super committed, motivated players who have begun to step into roles on the field that we hadn’t seen from them before,” Mitchell says. It won’t be a rebuilding year, and Mitchell sees no reason the team can’t compete on the national scale again.
They head to a competition in Tulsa, Oklahoma this weekend and then on to Kansas City the following weekend. Good luck!
By Montana Bass ’18
This season, the group of staff and faculty previously known for “noon ball” stepped up their game by joining a Colorado Springs adult basketball league. Not only did they up their game from a three-day-a-week, lunch-hour game to take on competitors from across the city; in its first year in the league, the CC team went on to win its division. Playing together regularly helped the team score a big win on and off the court, fostering camaraderie and community along with their basketball skills.
Team member Andy Kohel, assistant men’s soccer coach, says he felt confident about the team at the season’s start in November, but together they exceeded his expectations. “Everyone on our team has played basketball at the high school level or past it, so we all come from a very strong background,” he explains. That doesn’t mean the team didn’t have its challenges. “We had a bit of a size disadvantage,” Kohel admits. “We had one guy that is 6’6”, but the rest of our roster is comprised of 6’1” and under. That’s not the norm.”
It may have been that CC camaraderie that propelled them to victory. In fact, both Kohel and his teammate Kevin Rask, professor of economics and business, cite their team dynamic as their favorite part of competing this season. “Our roster is comprised of representatives from four different divisions: Faculty, alumni, residential life, and advancement. It’s fantastic to see everyone come together from their respective divisions and share a similar passion with each other,” says Kohel. Adds Rask, “There is nothing better than having the same good team to play with week in and week out.”
This season, the team has shown impressive determination and spirit. Rask spoke of an upset in which the team overcame an 18-point deficit to win the game as his favorite moment. Kohel adds, “Everyone was part of the win, it was cool to see.” Next year, he thinks, they’ll take that teamwork all the way to a championship victory. This year’s roster:
Andy Kohel, assistant CC men’s soccer coach
Jordan McCann, assistant CC women’s basketball coach
Mike Hart, assistant CC men’s basketball coach
Matt Kelly, annual gift officer
Kevin Rask, professor of economics
Matt Edwards, residential life coordinator
Isaac Salay ’16
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Felicia Chavez, a Riley-Scholar-in-Residence at CC, is having a busy year. Throughout 2016, Chavez, visiting assistant professor of English and film and media studies, published five works in four months, and has two more pieces to be published in Fall 2017.
Chavez is part of CC’s Riley Scholars program, which started in 1988 with the goal of diversifying CC’s faculty. The program sponsors a selection of Ph.D. candidates and post-doctoral students each year to work and teach on campus. The program has produced many current tenure-track professors, including Mario Montano, associate professor of anthropology, and Claire Garcia, professor of English. Chavez is a post-doctoral student and has been teaching courses in the Departments of English and Film and Media Studies throughout this academic year. Before teaching, Chavez worked as a thesis writing specialist in CC’s Colket Center for Academic Excellence. She has also worked as Program Director to Young Chicago Authors and founded the literary webzine GirlSpeak.
Chavez’s recent publications address varying topics, such as life and death, violence against women, medically induced seizures, and the military. Chavez says she, “considers art a vehicle for community mobilization,” which is what led her to include themes of “power, agency, and activism” in her work. Chavez says her time at CC has been transformative. She explains, “teaching at Colorado College has inspired me to couple rigorous writing production with a holistic concern for the whole student.”
Chavez also says “writing is psychological, emotional, and physical,” and always makes a point to “incorporate well-being exercises into CC coursework to balance the effects of creative or thesis production.” These exercises include walks before writing responses to assigned readings, pleasure reading as homework, and time to write freely about the difficulties of writing.
The Riley Scholars program has allowed Chavez time to sharpen her teaching skills and advance her experience as a professorial candidate. Chavez says she is grateful for this opportunity, as teaching is her ultimate goal, and she is hoping to find somewhere to teach permanently. Listen to Chavez’s recent audio documentaries in “The Pinch Literary Journal” and “Noise Medium.” Her graphic essay “Warning U. S. Military” is also available. In the fall of 2017, she will have two more works published in Black Warrior Review and Pilgrimage Magazine.
by Alana Aamodt ’18
The Block Plan provides flexibility for students to pursue and combine their interests, and in the case of Noelle Edwards ’19, this means balancing school and competitive snowboarding.
From the beginning of her college search, she knew she wanted to continue snowboarding competitively, but didn’t want to sacrifice the quality of her education, factors that led her to CC. Now a sophomore, she spent her first two years at CC traveling and training during Blocks 5 and 6, while simultaneously completing independent study blocks.
Edwards rides a 22-foot half pipe and is sponsored by GNU Snowboards and Woodward at Copper Mountain. This past season, she placed second at the Mammoth Mountain stop on the U.S. Revolution Tour, 15th in the Copper Mountain Grand Prix, and competed at the U.S. Open in Vail, Colorado, riding with some of the world’s best snowboarders. To end her season, she competed at the FIS World Snowboard Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain.
Edwards shares, “this year, I was able to work with CC’s very supportive staff to design two independent studies that would challenge me and advance my academic studies while also allowing me to train in Mammoth Lakes, California, during the winter months.”
One of those courses was Economic Discrimination in Sports Based on Gender, where Edwards conducted research and wrote a paper analyzing the wage gap between professional athletes based on gender. Her independent block was an English independent study based around travel writing, which studied well-known travel anthologies and helped hone her writing skills amid her travels.
Edwards is a film and media studies major as well as a news reporter for the Catalyst. She says she hopes to combine her interests in film and storytelling with her other passion, snowboarding. “I’ve wanted to work in the action sports industry for quite some time and coming to CC I wanted to be a film and media major from the very start,” reveals Edwards. “I think a combination of the classes I’ll take at CC and my snowboard experience will guide me to the ideal career path.”
Edwards is back at CC for Blocks 7 and 8.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Ever wonder what it takes to turn a passion into a career? Anton Krupicka ’05, an ultra-runner, provides insight into his journey to success as a professional athlete as part of the “Just Curious Show.” He was one of the first people to make a career out of the curious sport of running more than 26.2 miles, usually much longer, in his case often 100-mile races, usually on trails in the middle of nowhere. If you’ve ever wondered about how and why different people follow and succeed in various career paths, the “Just Curious Show” podcast is a perfect place to turn. The program, launched by Daniel Bedell, explores a variety of careers through conversations with people working in those areas. The most recent episode, and so far the show’s most popular, features Krupicka, who graduated CC in 2005 with a BA in philosophy and physics, and earned a BA in geology in 2006.
Bedell was compelled to start the podcast because he says he wanted to provide a substantive way of educating students about what it really takes to enter specific careers. He says “the media often only features people at the top of their game and only features the good parts of their lives and jobs.” Bedell hopes his podcast will counteract this lack of information, and educate students on “the good, the bad, the real, and the fake, so they can make the best choices possible for their future.”
Bedell says he was excited to profile Krupicka, someone often considered “one of the godfathers of pro ultra-running.” Bedell is also a runner himself, and wondered what it would take to be a professional runner, especially since there often isn’t a lot of prize money. By featuring Krupicka, he was able to answer his own questions, as well as educate students on what it takes to be a professional athlete. While at CC, Krupicka ran cross-country, but didn’t consider himself a stand-out runner. That changed when, the summer after graduating from CC, he won the Leadville Trail 100 ultra-marathon. The Leadville 100 is a prestigious and difficult race, and winning so early in his ultra career was an impressive feat. Since then, he has gone on to win the Leadville 100 again, and gained many sponsorships to make ultra-running his career.
Beyond his success in running, Krupicka says he is “someone who really is just a nerd of the sport he loves and is happy to talk about it in an honest way.” Krupicka is quite grounded, Bedell says, and “realizes he serves as a marketer for his sponsor companies; and marketing pays his bills.” He isn’t above talking to people like Bedell about the nitty gritty aspects of his job, and is a perfect example of someone who is making a career out of what he loves. To hear about Krupicka’s experience at CC, and his life as a professional ultra-runner, listen to the “Professional Athlete” episode.