Posts in: Kudos
The Pi Kappa Delta National Honor Society for competitive forensics hosts one of the largest speech and debate competitions in the country. It draws hundreds of competitors from colleges and universities across the United States, including CC’s own speech and debate team.
At this year’s competition, the society inducted ten students as All-Americans including Jacob Kirksey ’15, the captain of the speech and debate team at CC. Selection as an All-American is the highest honor awarded at the national tournament, recognizing outstanding seniors with successful careers in forensics, and strong academic and service backgrounds.
“I have never witnessed a dual discipline and motivation for the arts and communication like I’ve seen in this young man over his four years at CC. Jacob’s ruthless determination to present only the best product is evidenced by scrapping a speech the night before competition and re-writing an entire persuasive just because the former ‘wasn’t good enough,’” said Sarah Hinkle, CC speech and debate coach.
He participated at the national level in speech and debate in each of his four years at CC, competing in a variety of events from team debates, limited preparation speaking on current event topics, prepared platform speeches, and acting. Kirksey says his strongest event is impromptu speaking, in which participants have two minutes to prepare a five-minute speech that interprets a given quotation, asserts a thesis, and gives examples on how to apply the quotation to daily life. He focused also on the after-dinner speaking event, preparing a ten-minute speech that incorporates humor into a serious topic and is persuasive in nature. He chose color-blindness and the Black Lives Matter movement for his topic this year.
“Winning and traveling across the country is wonderful, but the best part of competing is discovering your own personal growth,” Kirksey said of his experience on the team. “Every tournament you are pushed to do even better than you did before, and this creates a very important routine for always bettering yourself.”
Earlier this year, Kirksey and his partner reached the quarterfinals of the Pan American Universities Debate Championship tournament. They competed against hundreds of schools competing from across the Western Hemisphere, the equivalent of reaching a medaling heat of the Pan American Games.
“What has impressed me about Jacob is not his competitive success, as CC has a long history of successful speech and debate students, but his willingness to extend his expertise to the community and enrich the lives of young people in Colorado Springs,” said Julian Plaza, one of CC’s speech and debate coaches.
Kirksey also used the skillset he developed through forensics competitions to inspire and start his own company. Kids Are Dramatic is a social justice theatre company that works with Title I public schools, which include higher numbers of at-risk students, and with nonprofits and after-school programs, to create process-oriented drama classes for students to express themselves. He also serves as advocacy director at the local nonprofit group Imagination Celebration where he networks with professionals in the Pikes Peak Region to develop and evaluate educational programs.
Kirksey, a double major in economics and education, began his debate career as a high schooler in Lubbock, Texas, where he initially found his passion for the event. “Speech and debate created a space for me to succeed in high school and see my potential. It forced me to be confident and enhances nearly ever aspect of my academic and professional life.”
After graduation in May, Kirksey will begin the education policy doctorate program at the University of California-Santa Barbara. “If I didn’t have the skillset I developed and enhanced through speech and debate, I wouldn’t be as established and confident in my work. Hopefully I’ll be a professor at age 26.”
Congratulations to Preston Briggs, who was recently selected as major gift officer for Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region. He currently serves as leadership giving officer in the advancement division and started at CC in April 2013.
Briggs said characteristics he developed as a professional hockey player, most recently with the Bloomington Prairie Thunder, enhance his work in both his current and new role in advancement.
“In professional sports, every day could be your last day, and that’s still a good perspective to have; it taught me to celebrate the highs and acknowledge the lows, but to keep an even keel and focus.”
Briggs was traded four times in his first two years playing professional hockey, then had hip surgery after his second season and spent the off-season in intensive rehabilitation to be ready to play. It’s that persistence and work ethic he said carried into his career after hockey.
“It’s about building the relationship between the donor and the college and finding where they want to make their impact, then connecting with those opportunities.”
Born in Colorado Springs, Briggs said he was inspired by CC hockey, attending every home game.
“I don’t think I would’ve ever played hockey at all, let alone professionally, had I not been growing up here watching the CC Tigers play every season.”
As a Colorado Springs native, Briggs said he feels personally invested in the city. He wants to see the community grow and thrive, and sees potential in CC collaborations with the greater community. “We have a lot here [in Colorado Springs] to offer, if we use it. CC is one of those things. Not many 500,000 cities can boast one of the best liberal arts schools in the country.”
His new position focuses on major gifts to support scholarships, research opportunities, internships, specific departments, and other areas.
“What’s really exciting is I’ll be in a place to talk with our alumni, parents, and friends about what they dream Colorado College could be, asking the question, ‘What does the best CC look like?’ ”
Briggs will officially move into his new role this spring. He will finish out the year by retaining his focus on leadership in annual giving. A search for his replacement will begin soon.
“Preston is a polished and articulate representative of the college. He was selected among a pool of very strong candidates to take the role vacated by Ron Rubin last year,” said Mark Hille, associate vice president for development.
Briggs and his wife, Amanda, met in college and now have a 13-month-old son, Davis.
Steve Getty, director of the Quantitative Reasoning Center, part of the Colket Center for Academic Excellence, has been named an award recipient by NARST, an international organization that improves science teaching and learning through research.
Getty was part of a team that authored a research paper titled “Conducting Causal Effects Studies in Science Education: Considering Methodological Trade-Offs in the Contexts of Policies Affecting Research in Schools.” The paper was selected for the 2014 Journal of Research in Science Teaching Award, as the most significant research article published in the journal in 2013.
“Our team is honored,” Getty said. “Often there’s a tension between education policies and the need for educational research. From a large trial we’ve just completed, we compiled data on how that policy-research tension leads to trade-offs and compromises that have very real impacts on research methods. Our hope is that this compilation is a useful resource for other education researchers.”
Getty, who worked as a visiting assistant professor in the Geology Department from 1999-2002, returned to Colorado College in August 2014, as director of the Quantitative Reasoning Center (QRC). His position at the QRC involves academic support across math and the sciences, education research, and collaborative work with college faculty in support of quantitative reasoning in the CC curriculum.
An interdepartmental Colorado College annual giving campaign featuring CC students and faculty has received the Gold level award for fundraising programs from the CASE District VI. And that, as the college community would say, “Is so CC.”
In fact, “Giving Back:That’s so CC,” was the title of the campaign, which consisted of print materials, videos, and emails.
Created between the summer and fall of 2012 by Naomi Trujillo, advancement design manager; Arielle Mari ’12, video and digital media specialist; Andrea Pacheco, former director of annual giving; and Ash Mercer ’08, former associate director of annual giving; the campaign was aimed at developing a culture of philanthropy. The four-part series consisted of:
- Service: That’s so CC, featuring drama major Kasi Carter ’11
- Student Support: That’s so CC, featuring French and Francophone Studies major Johnny Reed ’13
- Interdisciplinarity: That’s so CC, featuring psychology major Nora Alami ’13
- Study Abroad: That’s so CC, featuring English Professor Barry Sarchett, Adjunct Associate Comparative Literature Professor Lisa B. Hughes, and economics major Jesse Marble ’08
What made the project particularly fun to work on was the fact that there was so much collaboration, Trujillo said. “I loved the way the pieces came together – the print, emails, and video. Each told a great story and there was awesome video to support the project. I loved seeing the faces of the people we featured, and the video really captured their character, who they are,” she said.
The video was provided by Mari, who said she enjoyed working on the fairly long-term project. “It gives you time to develop a look, a feel. There is a sense of continuity about it. I imagined the people receiving the materials, and I felt I could establish a rapport with them. The project builds on itself and offers a new sense of unity,” she said.
Working with students was a highlight for Trujillo. “It reminded me what I’m at CC for. It’s an amazing place with amazing people,” she said.
The award is presented every year to a housing professional who currently is working in an associate director, assistant director, area manager/coordinator, or equivalent level at an AIMHO-member school. The award recognizes outstanding efforts and work taking place between the organization’s annually scheduled conferences. Weis was presented the award earlier this month at the annual AIMHO conference in Las Vegas.
The nomination on behalf of Weis notes that his job during the last year entailed a variety of additional duties, such as:
- Being the key point person for the $14 million Slocum Hall renovation project
- Providing leadership for revamping the off-campus application and education process
- Supporting on-campus housing efforts for those affected by the area wildfires
- Helping to manage residential facilities during highly unusual levels of flooding in the region
- Providing guidance to fraternities
- Opening a second Synergy sustainability living house
- Completing renovations of several student apartments
Weis’s regular workload did not diminish while he took on the other responsibilities. The nomination notes that he continues to be second in charge for his department, working with residential life, conferences, operations, room assignments, and facilities. In submitting his nomination, the residential life staff wrote that “Justin works hard to make sure our department functions at a high level and is innovative year round. We are lucky and thankful to have him as part of our team. He is genuine, seeks to help people, and sees the important role that facilities and relationships play in the learning for students.” This year marks Weis’s 10th year at Colorado College.
Chris Coulter, director of facilities services, recently was inducted into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame. Just over a quarter of a century ago, Coulter played on the 1986-87 State Champion Rampart High School basketball team that went undefeated, 24-0, to win the state title.
The team achieved the impossible: perfection. The Rampart boy’s team chalked up a remarkable 24-0 record, beating Thompson Valley, 42-38 in the state 3A championship game. The Rampart team won their games by an average of 17 points and earned a team grade point average of 3.14, showing their prowess on and off the court. In Coulter’s two years playing with the state champion team, the team posted a 46-2 record.
Coulter is currently a varsity coach in the Pine Creek High School boy’s football program. They have a 10-2 record and are playing in the 4A state semifinals against Monarch High School this weekend.
Coulter enjoys coaching youth sports, especially football and basketball, and has been coaching the same group of eighth-graders since they were in the third grade.
Versen, who started at CC on Oct. 1, 2012, will receive the award at the CASE conference in Kansas City. He was nominated by his former supervisor at Dickinson State University, in Dickinson, N.D., where Versen worked prior to coming to Colorado College.
A native of Highlands Ranch, Colo., Versen graduated from Dickinson State University in 2009 with a BS in business administration and a minor in marketing. He received his AS degree at McCook Community College in 2007 and played collegiate basketball at both MCC and DSU, where he was named team captain three of the four years. Upon graduating, he worked for Dickinson State University’s Entrepreneurial Center, and in 2010 he joined the Dickinson State University Alumni and Foundation where he spent two and a half years as the assistant director of alumni and donor relations.
The Rising Star Award recognizes individuals working in the advancement fields of alumni relations, communications and marketing, and philanthropy. Individuals nominated must have been in the advancement profession for three to seven years and have served as a volunteer for CASE for a minimum of two years. Additionally, the nominee must have demonstrated a consistently high level of professional achievement and strong leadership qualities.
The nominee also should be actively involved in the advancement of CASE, offering new ideas which can make a positive impact, and demonstrating a commitment to participate in areas of responsibility with CASE in the future.
Rochelle Mason, CC’s associate dean of students, has been nominated for The League of Women Voters of the Pikes Peak Region’s seventh annual Making Democracy Work Award. The award honors an individual for her hands-on work in the community.
“Rochelle Mason’s work in civic life, in higher education, and in the arts, is making Colorado Springs a more vibrant place to live,” said Charlotte Gagne, chair of the League’s Award Selection Committee.
Mason has long been involved in community projects aimed at enhancing education and access for youth, working to ensure that they have the opportunities and resources to make connections with life-changing impacts. “This was a passion I discovered over the years. I just want all young people to have the same resources and access I did to higher education. As a first-generation college student (the first in my family to complete a four-year degree), having this type of support truly shaped my life,” Mason said.
Before joining Colorado College in 1990 Mason worked at the Urban League of the Pikes Peak Region, where her work helped ensure equal opportunity in education and employment. Mason participates in numerous organizations and has helped organize the annual Juneteenth and city-wide Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations. She also serves as assistant director of a Mexican folk music ensemble.
Mason and her fellow nominees will be recognized, and the winner announced, at an award reception to be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at Stewart House, 1228 Wood Ave. The Colorado College community is invited to attend; cost is $25 and checks are payable to LWVPPR and may be sent to LWVPPR, P.O. Box 7888, Colorado Springs, CO 80933. RSVPs and payment are requested by Feb. 9.
By Laurel Hecker ’13
Each year, the Center for Service and Learning recognizes students, faculty, and community members who are outstanding examples of what it means to serve others. Volunteers, student leaders, professors, student groups, and community organizations are honored in various award categories. Though recipients do their work with no expectations of reward, the Service Award Recognition Dessert (SARD) is a yearly opportunity to acknowledge on-going acts of selflessness, impassioned leadership, and community involvement. This year, on April 26 at McHugh Commons, the Center for Service and Learning recognized 18 exceptional people and groups from the extended CC community with 11 unique awards.
Spirit Awards: Annette Daymon, Kelsey Fowlkes ’13, Kristen Wells ’12, Tessa Harland ’13, Emily Burton-Boehr ’12, Qua Nguyen ’13
Outstanding Commitment to Social Change: Samantha Barlow ’13
Commitment Beyond the Course Award: Michaela Kobsa-Mark ’15
Award for Innovation in the Curriculum: Re Evitt
Organizational Leadership Award: Cassie Benson ’12
Innovative Leadership Award: Kathleen Carroll ’13
Teamwork Awards: Early Birds, CREATE
Partnership Award: Concrete Couch
Outstanding Initiative by a First-Year: Christine Odegi ’15, Skyler Trieu ’15
Class of 1981 Outstanding Community Service Award: Marley Hamrick ’12
Anabel and Jerry McHugh Director’s Award:
The awards ceremony in McHugh Commons on April 26.
Colorado College Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Life Mike Edmonds has been elected by the KEY Society, one of the nation’s most prestigious forensics educators honor societies, as an honorary KEY coach. Edmonds accepted the honor at Emory University, where the society is housed, on Jan. 27.
Edmonds was cited as a major force in forensics when selected for the recognition. Said Melissa Maxcy Wade, executive of director of forensics at Emory University, “Mike is, simply, one of the nation’s forensics treasures.”
Forensics helps people think critically, speak publically, and persuade others, Edmonds said. “You have to weigh the material, analyze it, and articulate a point of view. Sometimes the analysis shows you that there are multiple truths; that everything isn’t always a solvable problem with a single answer. If there are multiple approaches, you find what the best approach is at a given time.
“Isn’t it better,” the dean of students and vice president for student life adds, “to have something settled after being questioned from all points of view? To solve differences with the spoken word and have real resolution?”
Edmonds began his forensics career as a seventh-grader in Clarksville, Tenn., and majored in theater and speech at the University of Mississippi. He says he joined the debate team while in junior high school for a variety of reasons: it allowed him to banter in a constructive manner, enabled him to travel, was an activity applicable to life – and because he had friends on the team. He has maintained his love of the discipline ever since, and the skills he began cultivating as a teenager have stood him in good stead throughout his career.
Qualities such as tolerance, patience, openness, and critical thinking are central to good debaters, and they also help facilitate dialogue and discussion in a classroom – and in life, Edmonds said.
Having good debating skills “gives you the opportunity to be comfortable having discussions in which you are passionate, but also willing to listen to opposing views. Good debaters are only credible if they know how to give the opposing view a credible and graceful exit strategy,” he said.
Edmonds is especially humbled by this award as he has not been an active coach since the early 1990s. However, he judges at least three high school tournaments a year, one of which is always the national high school tournament. Edmonds was selected for the award by his peers, and the fact that the award is peer-chosen means a lot to him. “These people are my friends and mentors, and I respect them so much,” he said.
The role of a good coach, Edmonds said, is to develop talent. “You need to know how to spot potential and understand how to use it.” A good coach knows a debater’s style, knows what topics work, what piece of literature to use to back up an argument, and what chemistry works best on a team. “A good coach brings out the best in both the individual and the team,” he said.
“I fundamentally believe that the sustainability and evolution of forensics is inherent to constructive dialogue,” Edmonds said. “It’s not one’s win/loss record, it’s the ability to solve differences and see another’s point of view.”