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Opportunity Knocks for Annabelle O’Neill ’19 and Life Is Good

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Annabelle O’Neill ’19 has loved the Life is Good brand and message since she was quite young, which is why she was particularly excited when she got to visit their headquarters in Hudson, New Hampshire, in early October.

O’Neill’s love for Life is Good is demonstrated by the 17 t-shirts she owns, the first of which she received when she was a young child, before she could choose her own clothes. This started her lifelong passion for the clothes, as well as the brand’s message of always having a positive mindset. O’Neill’s appreciation for Life is Good was obvious when she happened to run into the company’s president and first employee at the airport in Denver while she was wearing one of their t-shirts. After chatting, the two women offered O’Neill their business cards and invited her to the Life is Good warehouse in New Hampshire, which is where she went in early October. The trip was specifically planned so O’Neill could attend LIG’s biannual all-company meeting called “Jake Jam” to learn about the company and share her own story.

O’Neill says the trip was a dream come true, and adds “it shows how being open can lead to unexpected opportunities!” She particularly enjoyed seeing the workplace culture of LIG, where everyone knows each other and has fun throughout the day, high-fiving and throwing frisbees.

The best part of the trip, O’Neill says, was talking to one of the first employees, Keith. “During the Q and A, John asked me about a special college memory, and I shared about an event at Synergy called the Grateful Feast when about 50 students sang ‘Lean on Me’ together. Keith took me to a huge mural in the warehouse that says ‘lean on me’ with Jake (one of their characters) leaning on Rocket (the company dog character). Keith and I tossed a ball around, and shared an honest, fun conversation.”

Although retail is not directly related to O’Neill’s geology studies at CC, she is currently a brand ambassador and plans to work at LIG after graduation. O’Neill says she is excited to learn about business “while giving back to a company that has supported me throughout life.” No matter where her post-graduation path takes her, O’Neill will always continue to wear LIG t-shirts and spread their message of positivity and optimism

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

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.

Welcome JoAnn Jacoby as New CC Library Director

JoAnn Jacoby

JoAnn Jacoby will join CC in August as the new library director.

Most recently, Jacoby served as associate dean for user services in the University of Illinois Library, the largest publicly funded academic library in the U.S.  She has spent most of her professional career at Illinois in a number of roles over the last 18 years, including head of research and information services, coordinator of the New Service Model Program, anthropology and sociology subject specialist, and visiting assistant university archivist.  Jacoby has published her research on evolving scholarly practices and library service evaluation processes in major journals in the field. She has served as chair of both the American Library Association’s Library Research Roundtable and of the Anthropology and Sociology Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries.

Jacoby has a Master’s Degree in Anthropology from Southern Illinois University and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois.

Jacoby will begin leading the newly renovated Tutt Library on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Welcome Alex Hernandez-Siegel as New CC Chaplain

Alex Hernandez-Siegel

The Student Life Division is thrilled to announce Alex Hernandez-Siegel will join CC in August as the new chaplain and associate dean of students.

In his role, Hernandez-Siegel will provide leadership in in the ethical, religious, and spiritual dimensions of community life at CC, serving the entire campus community including students, faculty, and staff.

Hernandez-Siegel comes to CC from Harvard University, where he has served as university chaplain since 2012. He also advised graduate students in the organismic and evolutional biology Ph.D. program and worked for two years as a community associate director with the Pluralism Project at Harvard.

He also brings experience overseeing student academic progress and diversity recruitment in Harvard’s OEB program and leading national efforts to attract underrepresented students to the genomic sciences at the undergraduate and postdoctoral levels.

As chaplain at CC, Hernandez-Siegel will bring his own experience to guide programming, activities, and conversations that foster a welcoming and supportive environment where religious and spiritual exploration can occur.

Hernandez-Siegel will begin on campus Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Get to Know: Jordan Travis Radke, Director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement

Jordan Radke

Jordan Travis Radke took on the role of director of CC’s Collaborative for Community Engagement in March, and jumped right in to the work of deepening, supporting, expanding, and assessing community-based learning and community-based research and its integration into the scholarship of the college. It is what she calls, “a fantastic job.” Here’s your opportunity to get to know Radke as she shares insights on her role and the impact of a community-engaged campus:

How do you think your position will impact CC?
I hope that my work, and the work of our entire office, has a large impact on CC. I am passionate about the integration of community-based work into teaching, learning, and scholarship. For students, I believe community-based learning experiences foster empathy and awaken in students a hope and an obligation to build a more just, humane world. For both faculty and students, I believe community-based research offers the chance to generate knowledge and insights of public relevance, applying knowledge to improving the quality of life of the community.

Where did you work before CC and what where you doing?
Before I came to CC, I was a Ph. D. candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (she finished up her Ph. D. in the fall, congrats!).  As a late-stage Ph. D. student, the majority of my time was devoted to undergraduate teaching. I also spent much of my time seeking to gain experience in community-based learning, teaching, and co-curricular programs, and became heavily involved in a year-long, service-learning sequence oriented around race, class, and gender, in which students mentored at-risk middle school students. My training and experience in qualitative research throughout my dissertation was transformative for me, and I hope to draw on these skills and this interest, as well as to continue to explore my interest in the trend to individualize collective action.

What do you bring to this job?
I am a deeply committed person with strong convictions, and my hope is that this passion and energy will enable me to build a vibrant, active culture of community-based learning. I would like to bring stability and longevity to this position, and build something long-lasting and transformative. Lastly, I am by nature collaborative and hope to build bridges and relationships to transform the CCE into an office connected to the campus and our community.

What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had either at CC or outside of it that play into your current role?
My Ph. D. certainly plays into my current role and gave me a range of skills and knowledge from which I draw. Additionally, before I went back to graduate school, I worked as a UNITE HERE union organizer for a short time, worked the front desk at a Ronald McDonald House, and was a volunteer grant writer at an organization that supported African immigrants. These experiences gave me interesting insights into the world of community organizing as well as the nonprofit sector, and I take those experiences with me in all that I do. In particular, these experiences revealed to me how difficult yet inspiring it can be to try to work toward social changes.

Who/what was the biggest influence on you?
Two things come to mind for me. First, I studied abroad in Madagascar my junior year of college, and it was a life-changing experience. Living there gave me a glimpse into a totally different culture and pace of life, and made me deeply question the American ethic of ever-increasing consumption and unwavering focus on achievement.

The other experience that deeply shaped me was the recession. My husband, a wide and bright-eyed first-year teacher, lost his publically funded high school teaching job along with all other new teachers in his district. It took him 15 months to get a career going again, and that was to return to graduate school for a different degree. While difficult, this time left me feeling ever grateful and privileged in our current, secure lives, and to empathize more deeply with those who struggle for stability.

What have you noticed about CC?
This campus is a true community, in which relationships are built between and among students, faculty, and staff. I love that I am on a campus where, when I walk to grab lunch or run to the library, I am likely to run into another person who knows me by name. After several years at a very large public university, that feels like a distinct privilege. I am also amazed at the extent to which CC is committed to students as entire people — providing programs and support to develop not only students’ intellectual interests and foundations, but every other aspect of their humanity.

Tell us a little about your background
I grew up in a family of eight with five siblings. I also come from a very long line of Presbyterian ministers. I credit my childhood and parents with instilling in me deep empathy and a desire to live a life that is other-oriented.

What do you like to do when not working?
In most of my free time, you’ll find me running after my firecracker of a three-year-old, Avery, and trying to make my 1-year-old Brynn giggle.  When I do get to enjoy some time to myself (I am told this will happen in 18 years), I enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy, and watching TV shows like “Game of Thrones” with my husband. I also love nature photography, and enjoy being outdoors, playing in the water, listening to music, writing, and have been playing with meditation as well.

What is something people might be surprised to know about you?
I am an identical twin! My twin, Jesse, lives outside of San Antonio with her husband and three adorable children. For 18 years of life, my identity was totally intertwined with another person — and we still understand one another in a way that I think non-twins could never understand.  I am grateful to have been born with a built-in best friend.

 

Felicia Chavez Finds Writing and Teaching “Transformative” as CC Riley Scholar

Felicia Chavez

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.

Meet Ben Kieklak, 2017-18 Student Trustee

Ben Kieklak

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Each year, the CC Student Government Association sponsors the election of a new student trustee and this year, the student body elected Ben Kieklak ’18 to serve as student trustee for the 2017-18 academic year.

To officially run as a student trustee candidate, student must complete a comprehensive process even before his or her name is put on the ballot: Kieklak had to submit 50 signatures of support, complete a CCSGA application, and be interviewed. As the student trustee, Kieklak will be a member of the CC Board of Trustees. Since many of the trustees do not live near campus, Kieklak’s main role will be to bridge the gap between trustees and students by keeping trustees informed on student interests and goals. Kieklak says he will also “communicate and explain the decisions of the board, reporting back to the student body.”

Kieklak says many things inspired him to run for the position of student trustee, the first of which was his glowing experience at CC as a first-year student. He says that CC has given him so many opportunities, and this is an opportunity to give back to the school.

When he was a sophomore, Kieklak learned that not all students have had the same positive experience at CC. As a resident advisor for the Enclave, a Living Learning Community with many students of color, he discovered many of his residents felt left out of aspects of the CC community. Kieklak says his experience working with these students as an RA helped formulate his goals as student trustee, one of which is “not merely to help individual students, but also to help affect long-lasting, institutional changes that will have a positive impact on the college many years down the road.” These changes, Kieklak says, will enable the college to grow and thrive as a whole. To achieve his goals, Keiklak plans to “specifically focus on the areas of financial aid, diverse hiring and admission, and the granting of tenure for professors.”

In June, current student trustee Mayss Al Amani ’17 will pass the baton to Kieklak at one of the biannual Board of Trustees meetings. He will start his position in the fall.

Get to Know Two New Faces at The Butler Center

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

This semester, the Butler Center welcomed new members to its staff: Tre Wentling, gender and identity development specialist, and Michelle Stallings, administrative assistant. Both Wentling and Stallings took the time to answer a few questions to help you get to know them and why they’re excited to be a part of the campus community.

Michelle Ann StallingsMichelle Ann Stallings

What were you doing before arriving at CC?I earned a BA in history and an MA in educational leadership with an emphasis in student affairs in higher education from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. During my undergraduate studies, I was heavily involved with various multicultural student organizations including the Asian Pacific Islander Student Union, Native American Student Union, Spectrum: The Gay-Straight Alliance, and Student Diversity Council.

 

What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had either at CC or outside of it that play into your current role?
Personally, being a student leader, specifically within multicultural student organizations, has helped me to realize the significance of actively participating in the campus community. Professionally, each of the positions I held in higher education helped me learn to work with a variety of students, each with their own story and background.

 

What was the biggest influence on your career path?
Strangely enough, working at a for-profit institution inspired me to work in higher education. I was immersed in a culture that viewed each student as a dollar amount rather than respecting each person as an individual with their own background and journey into college life. Rather than trying to keep the status quo, I was inspired to make each conversation meaningful and focused on the student’s needs.

What have you noticed about CC?
I have noticed that CC is extremely friendly. Titles have less meaning because each and every professional staff and faculty member I have meet really cares about each student they meet.

When she’s not working, you might find Stallings watching movies with her husband and dogs, reading, and traveling. Stop by the Butler Center on the second floor of Worner Campus Center, or email michelle.stallings@coloradocollege.edu.


Tre WentlingTre Wentling

What is your position and how do you think it will impact CC?
The gender and identity development specialist position supports students’ identity development with an emphasis on gender and sexuality. My position also contributes to the campus community in ways that promote learning, discovery, scholarship, and social justice. The transformative possibilities of this position include the opportunity to join the work already underway at CC as well as expand practices that honor the complex lives of CC students, staff, and faculty who diversely embody trans, gender nonconforming, queer, bisexual, lesbian, gay, and asexual identities and experiences.

 

What were you doing before you arrived at CC?
I am a first-generation college graduate, with a military-dependent history. I was born on a U.S. Air Force installation in Germany and by my 18th birthday had lived in three German states and three American states. Growing up, I attended different school systems: U.S. Department of Defense schools, public schools in the U.S., and a private international school, which made evident how uneven educational systems are, including the dominant values and organizing practices within them. So much moving also taught me about community, culture, and belonging and was likely the impetus of my intellectual journey in sociology. I earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in sociology. I completed my Ph. D in sociology and a certificate of advanced studies in women’s and gender studies at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. My research concerns how individuals with diverse, transgender embodied identities navigate incoherent U.S. policies that regulate identification documents produced at different governing scales.

What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had either at CC or outside of it that play into your current role?
My journey to becoming more of my authentic self – a white queer transman with intentional commitments to social justice — involved multiple, transformative experiences; much of that assemblage manifested during my undergraduate study. My connections to campus, community, and curriculum, or the three C’s as I call them, necessarily included university staff, faculty, and community members. Uniquely positioned on- and off-campus, a diverse constellation of mentors supported my identity development. They acknowledged my personhood; gave me space to wrestle with tensions and contradictions in my own life as well as our socio-political worlds; listened carefully and offered constructive insights; presented leadership opportunities that were productive and empowering; advocated on my behalf; and over time, some became allied-comrades and friends. The three C’s inform my commitment to students and efforts to offer support, advocate when invited, recommend and discuss critical scholarship, encourage self-reflection, and propose empowering leadership opportunities.

 Something you might be surprised to know? Wentling used to compete in country-and-western partner dancing. Stop by the Butler Center to meet Wentling in person, or email tre.wentling@oloradocollege.edu.

Dana Cronin ’17 Racks Up Miles, Experience at 91.5 KRCC

By Alana Aamodt ’18

Dana Cronin ’17, has spent a large portion of her CC career interning with 91.5 KRCC , Colorado College’s NPR-member station. From pitching stories to interviewing sources, Cronin’s internship has introduced her to all aspects of radio, giving her the opportunity to write, record, and produce her stories.

“Throughout my two and a half years at 91.5 KRCC, I’ve learned so much about how to be a good journalist,” Cronin says of her internship, “I’ve learned how to write meaningful and thorough stories about a huge variety of topics. I’ve also developed my radio voice, which is a lot harder than it sounds!” She also says she’s learned a lot about the community and broader listening area through “interviewing people, attending local meetings, and reaching out to the general community 91.5 KRCC serves,” in order to create relevant pieces.

One of her latest stories even took her to the top of some of Colorado’s highest peaks, where she learned about the labor-intensive maintenance of the trails up the state’s 14,000-foot mountains and the hardworking people who work at such high altitudes. Cronin says many people, herself included at first, “don’t realize the amount of time, energy, and money that goes into maintaining Colorado’s high peaks,” making this an important story to tell.

Besides the actual labor of hiking the mountain, Cronin says the hardest part about writing the story was editing down the information, interviews, and sound bites. “I started with about five hours of interviews and recordings, and the story ended up being five minutes long,” describes Cronin. Finding herself personally attached to many of the sources, this was no easy task.

91.5 KRCC “Morning Edition” host and managing editor, and Cronin’s supervisor, Andrea Chalfin, describes the hard work Cronin’s put in. “I’ve worked with Dana in the 91.5 KRCC newsroom for the majority of her college career, and I’m really proud of the work she’s done for us. Aside from literally climbing a couple of mountains for this piece, she was able to pull the story together fairly easily. It’s a testament to her work ethic and experience at Colorado College and in the newsroom.”

Cronin hopes to continue in radio and will be applying for radio internships for next year. Read or listen to Cronin’s fourteener piece or take a look at some of her other work on the 91.5 KRCC website.

Get to Know Dwanna Robertson, Assistant Professor of Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies

Dwanna Robertson

Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Dwanna Robertson joined CC this year as an assistant professor in the Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies Program. Robertson has a Ph. D. in sociology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and a graduate certificate in Native American Indian Studies. It’s an exciting time to join the department, as CC implemented a new Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies major for the 2016-17 academic year. Robertson took time to share some of her insights on CC, the REMS program, and the addition of a REMS major.

What made you choose to come to CC?

I was appointed to my previous position as the secretary of education for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation by Principal Chief George Tiger. A new principal chief took office in January 2016, and when another principal chief is elected, they appoint their own choices. It works the same way as on the national level. I was incredibly humbled and honored to serve my tribe within the areas of education and research. I had promised my mother that I would someday come back and work for my people, so working for the tribe was a fulfillment of my promise to her. But I am so happy to return to academia. I’ve always known that I was meant to teach, research, and write.

I decided to come to CC because of the intellectual vibrancy and commitment I saw modeled by the students, faculty, and administration during my first campus visit to CC, and that still holds true. In my classes, CC students think critically and creatively about complex social issues and engage in robust dialogue to find innovative ways to resist social injustice. The distinguished faculty at CC support one another intellectually, professionally, and personally – I’ve been on the receiving end of this dynamic so many times already. No place is perfect, obviously, but CC offers me the opportunity to work with committed, brilliant people toward the common goal of making the world a better place. What’s better than that?

What do you bring to CC?

I bring a fresh perspective and embodied understanding about indigenous knowledges and critical race scholarship. I also bring a passion for student-centered teaching and my classrooms are dynamic spaces of critical inquiry and challenging the status quo. I’m a multi-methods researcher, so students can feel comfortable working with me on their projects no matter what method they want to use. Most importantly, my presence at CC disrupts stereotypes and dispels myths about indigenous peoples. My success symbolizes what people from marginalized groups and impoverished communities can achieve; what teenaged mothers, first generation and/or nontraditional college students can do with the necessary support. The people who encouraged me and listened to me when I wanted to quit were always teachers. Teachers saved my life every single time with unconditional understanding, forthright correction, continuous forgiveness, and never-ending belief in me and my abilities. Finally, my presence on campus symbolizes the depth of CC’s commitment to diversity and equity.

What do you think starting the REMS major means for CC and its curriculum?
Everything we do in life, every social interaction, has raced and gendered undertones. A lack of diversity on college campuses speaks loudly about the sociohistorical foundations of this country, particularly in educational achievement, economic wellbeing, and media representation. The REMS major prepares students to engage critically with issues of race, ethnicity, and migration through interdisciplinary approaches that encourage robust dialogue and collaboration. This prepares students for their roles in creating equity in the multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural world we live in.

What are you most excited about with the new major?
I am most excited about working with students who pursue the REMS major. Together, we will explore the social, historical, cultural, political, and economic consequences of social difference through respectful and rigorous intellectual inquiry and debate that produces serious and substantive change. Students will gain the knowledge, tools, and skills to deal with critical social issues that are intrinsically linked with social injustice, and specifically, with categories of race, ethnicity, and migration here in the United States and across the globe. Our students are key to making the world a better place and I get to be a part of that!