Professor Emeritus Gamer Finds Composition Inspiration in CC Logo

CC logo

By Alana Aamodt ’18

The open skies and towering mountains around Colorado Springs have long inspired artists — Katharine Lee Bates, while working at CC, found inspiration from them to create her famous poem, “America the Beautiful,” for example. The new CC logo, introduced in January, takes the same inspiration, incorporating these mountains and clear skies into its design.

From this logo, Carlton Gamer, professor emeritus of music, found his own inspiration for a new musical composition, which will be performed by the CC Concert Band on Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Packard Performance Hall.

Gamer, a professor at CC from 1954-1994, taught a vast array of music courses as well as interdisciplinary courses ranging from Asian studies to history. He has composed more than 70 pieces that have been played all over the world. Still connected to the CC community, Gamer’s new piece “Mountains and Skies: A CC Fanfare” attempts to depict CC’s logo through music.

Gamer interpreted the two “C’s” on the logo as musical pitches. “It has two mountains,” he explains, “a big one and a little one, that can be conveyed in musical terms, the big ones by layers of low brass instruments, the little one by layers of low woodwind instruments. It has a clear background, the sky, which can be suggested by lighter layers of higher-pitched woodwind instruments.”

The buildup of a series of chords creates the “mountains,” trumpets cut across the piece, playing “C, C,” and the flares of the high woodwinds are reminiscent of the sharp diagonals of the logo. The effect is “chord-mountains” that rise and fall, eventually climaxing: “Finally, a big chord built on C arrives, and the mountains that form on this chord, the flares in the woodwinds, and a final flourish in the trumpets create the climax of the piece,” Gamer says.

Gamer took care in making his work both technically challenging and accessible for CC student musicians. He hopes that this balance, in combination with the piece’s deep connection to CC, will make it enjoyable to play and listen to, possibly becoming “a staple of the CC Concert Band repertoire.”

Come hear Gamer’s new work during the Colorado College Concert Band performance, “The American Experience,” directed by Jeremy Van Hoy and featuring rock, jazz, and music inspired by World War II Tuesday, Dec. 6, 7:30-9 p.m. in Packard Performance Hall.

Need to Know Fall Break Info

CC’s Fall Break began this week with the conclusion of Block 3 and officially runs through Sunday, Nov. 27. The break provides students a respite from classes and an opportunity to spend time on campus or at home or to take advantage of opportunities for trips, service work, or CC-sponsored programs.

The Outdoor Recreation Committee sponsors free BreakOut trips during weekends, block breaks, and Spring Break. BreakOut trips are student-led and focus on community service. This year, the trips are also being offered during Fall Break. Students are visiting Mission: Wolf, a nonprofit wolf sanctuary in Westcliffe, Colorado, during the first four days of the break. The sanctuary cares for captive wolves and educates people on the danger of keeping wolves as pets. Students on the trip will help with daily tasks, such as feeding the wolves and maintaining the sanctuary.

Another trip is going to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort for camping and hiking Nov. 21-22. A third takes place at the end of the break, Nov. 25-27, and is going to the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. Sign up on Summit.

Also happening over Fall Break: Two home hockey games, one against University of Wisconsin, Friday, Nov. 25, at 7:37 p.m., and against the U.S. Air Force Academy Saturday, Nov. 26, at 6:07 p.m. Both are at the Broadmoor World Arena.

Additionally, these things may be helpful as you are supporting students and answering questions about the Fall Break schedule and resources.


Housing is available for students who have requested accommodations. Students who have obligations with the college, are members of an athletics team in season, or who have a special circumstance that may warrant “break stay approval” were invited to request accommodations from their residential life coordinator earlier this month.


Bon Appetit food service locations Benji’s, The Preserve, Local Goods, and Chas Coffee will be closed Nov. 17-27.  Rastall will have limited service Nov. 17-22, serving lunch only during the weekdays and closed Nov. 19, 20, and 23-26. Rastall will open on Sunday, Nov. 27, at 5 p.m.  Students staying on campus can use their Tiger Bucks to order microwavable pack-out meals for breakfast, lunch, or dinner through Bon Appetit.

The CC Thanksgiving Luncheon takes place Thursday, Nov. 24, 12:30-2 p.m. in Bemis Great Hall. Faculty and staff are also welcome to participate. This event is free and does not require students to use their meal plan. All are welcome; no RSVP needed.


Throughout Fall Break, shuttle service to Walmart will be available to students approved for Fall Break housing. Contact Campus Safety: (719) 389-6707. Campus Safety can also assist with student transportation due to unexpected injuries or illness.

Special Events

Students who have been approved for housing over the break will receive additional information about on-campus programs and free trips off-campus directly via email.

Health and Safety

Residential life coordinators and resident assistants will remain in some halls and are accessible for all students. Students staying on campus will receive detailed information via email.

Campus Safety non-emergency number: (719) 389-6707

Campus Safety emergency number: (719) 389-6911

Over Fall Break, the Office of Residential Life and Campus Activities will continue to offer support to students and opportunities for engagement and community. The goal is to ensure that students remaining on campus have a safe and enjoyable Fall Break.

For further information, please contact Yolany Gonell, director of residential life and campus activities, or Rochelle Mason, senior associate dean of students,

IDEA Space Looks Inside the Criminal Justice System

Incarceration Nation exhibit at the IDEA Space in the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center.

By Laurie Laker ’12

Colorado College’s IDEA Space, the InterDisciplinary Experimental Arts Space, is currently hosting an exhibition titled “Incarceration Nation.”

“It addresses a crucial topic in the American landscape,” says Briget Heidmous, assistant curator of the IDEA Space.

“The mass incarceration of human beings is an epidemic in this country,” explained Heidmous. “Currently, there are 2.3 million people being held in a system that is broken, serving up mandatory minimums, often for profit.”

The exhibition, consisting of a series of showings and events across campus, and – as Heidmous says, “offers a visual art experience that serves as a platform to generate conversation surrounding issues of mass imprisonment, reform, and the human experience.”

The opening reception and panel discussion took place in late October, and was well-attended by students, faculty, staff, and local community members. The panel featured exhibited artists Michelle Handleman and Jessie Krimes, visiting performer Yannis Simonides, activist Jean Casella, CC faculty members Jane Murphy and Carol Neel, and CC student and researcher Madeleine Engel ’18.

Casella, the director of the solitary confinement watchdog project Solitary Watch, opened the panel by saying that “art is always about our common humanity, so fighting any form of injustice with it is brilliant.” It was a sentiment shared by all on the panel, including formerly incarcerated artist Jesse Krimes.

“Work, particularly my art, served as a way to keep my sanity, but also as an act of resistance,” says Krimes. Krimes’ featured work, a massive patchwork of print-adorned prison bedsheets, “allows the facilitation of dialogue, and the artwork makes the dialogue easier to have because it’s a focal point,” he says.

Michelle Handelman’s work, first begun in 2009, uses the medium of video to investigate and express the prison experiences of queer inmates. Her piece, screening in a replica solitary confinement cell in the IDEA Space, is hard to watch – but that’s why it’s important.

“Solitary is only a punishment,” she says. “You lose track of yourself as a person after a while, it’s heartbreaking.”

“It’s often spun as protective custody for queer inmates, but it’s really an excuse for the system to stop treating them like any inmate at the facility. It marks them out as different, which is incredibly damaging emotionally and mentally.”

Converse to much of the discussion of contemporary criminal justice and imprisonment, the work that Greek performer Yannis Simonides does reawakens the punishments of the past. His international touring one-man production of Plato’s “The Apology,” presents a speech of legal self-defense against charges of impiety and corruption in 399 BC.

“What I always try to do, with every performance, is bring the audience into their ‘I’ mindset,” Simonides explains. “What that means is that I try to have them feel as if they’re on trial, as if they’re being forced to defend themselves in court. It’s discomforting, but it starts a dialogue and that’s what all good art should do.”

“In ancient Greece, prisons were not the places we know now. They weren’t barbaric. Socrates, for example, was held in a room with no doors or windows – fresh air could circulate, he had visitors at all times, and was free to move as he pleased. It was humane, incredibly.”

Continuing until December 17, the next events in the series are two events on First Monday, November 28, with a presentation and reception with photographer and activist Richard Ross, whose work deals with the placement and treatment of American youth in the penal system. On December 6, there’s a film screening and performance by Carolina Rubio MacWright, whose work explores the theft of freedom due to kidnapping, incarceration, or the denial of a safe and peaceful homeland.

Please contact the IDEA Space  for any further information on these, or other exhibits and events.

Meet Filmmakers at Exclusive RMWFF Student Symposium


By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

On Sunday, Nov. 13, the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute will screen two films and host lunch with the filmmakers at Colorado College as part of the institute’s annual film festival. RMWFI annually puts on the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, which is the longest continuously running women’s film festival in North America. The goal of the festival is to promote films and filmmakers that portray the world from a female perspective, as well as support female filmmakers and encourage curiosity and diversity.

RMWFI has partnered with CC to bring two films to campus this Sunday for the student symposium exclusively for college students, and both will be followed by question and answer sessions with the filmmakers. The two films are “I, Destini” and “Newtown.” The screening of “I, Destini,” from directors Destini Riley and Nicholas Pilarski, is sponsored by CC’s Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies Program. The film is an animated, autobiographical documentary that focuses on the effects on young people of having a close family member or friend that is incarcerated. It covers the story of 13-year-old Destini Riley and her observations on race, class, media, and police in her town of Durham, North Carolina.

Claire Garcia, director of the Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies program, says she’s excited to have REMS sponsor the film and that it will promote awareness of diverse perspectives and life experiences. As Garcia explains, “there are many ways to theorize lived experience,” including art and film. “I, Destini,” portrays a “young woman using film to theorize her place in the world,” which Garcia says is important to discourse related to race, ethnicity, and migration outside the classroom.

“Newtown” from director Kim Snyder traces the aftermath of the worst mass shooting ot schoolchildren in American history, the traumatized community, and its new sense of purpose.

The event starts at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, in Packard Hall. There is no admission fee, but students must RSVP on the RMWFI 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!


Brewing and Biology Foster Community Connection for Julian Dahl ’17

By Alana Aamodt ’18

Colorado is a great place to be a craft beer enthusiast and Julian Dahl ’17, senior at CC, is taking advantage of it. President of the recently founded CC Homebrew Club, and previously a summer intern at Triple S brewing in Colorado Springs, Dahl engages his passion for beer throughout the community.

Dahl admits he “didn’t really like beer” until he was exposed to “good, Colorado craft beer.” He describes the evolution of his affinity for the beverage: a brew journal of his favorite beers and their details turned into what’s called extract brewing, where he would buy a company produced malt extract and create his own brew from it. Now, he has upgraded his one-gallon system to a five-gallon set, where he makes his own recipes from different combinations of grains and hops.

“Our goal is to think about what we’re tasting,” Dahl says of CC’s Homebrew Club. Additionally, the club helps engage CC students with the community through interactions with local brewers. “There are 28 breweries in Colorado Springs, which is a ton, and it creates a culture of brewing,” he explains.

The Homebrew Club is where Dahl met Steve Stowell, a community mentor to the club who works for Triple S brewing. The relationship evolved, as Dahl began working for Triple S brewing over the summer as the “resident microbiologist,” where he combined his skills as a biology major with his interest in beer.

For his internship with Triple S, Dahl set up a simple lab at the brewing company, using a microscope to evaluate the yeast and testing samples for contamination. “It’s 15 barrels of microbes’ paradise” Dahl jokes of the yeast and sugar concoctions that will eventually be beer. His job was to determine the right ratios of yeast based on the current state of the yeast and “quantitatively find infection.” When he did find contaminants, the brewery could better clean that section of their equipment before risking their whole batch.

Dahl was lucky enough to find an overlap in his longtime interest in biology and developing desire to make beer. By following his interests, he has been introduced to a “friendly, supportive community,” one he describes as an incredibly “sharing community among competitors,” grounded in helping each other out and enjoying good beer. As Dahl approaches graduation, he knows he wants to stay involved in brewing and has toyed with idea of a microbiology startup that utilizes what he learned over the summer. In the meantime, contact Dahl if you want to learn more about home brewing, see the process, or help him bottle:

Sub-committees Begin Work on CC, FAC Program Plans

The first major phase in the strategic planning process undertaken by Colorado College and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center wrapped up in October. A series of community listening sessions were held, as well as small- group focus sessions and large group discussions, in order to seek input from various community constituents regarding the re-envisioning and redefining of the FAC and CC roles in the arts in the region. Nearly 1,600 people participated in the listening and information gathering process.

In addition, 821 comments have been recorded from the four community listening sessions, comment cards and online comment forms.

“I am so pleased with the number of community members who have participated in this process, and so grateful for the care and thought that were captured in their comments. This input gives everyone involved in planning an excellent foundation for moving forward,” said Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler.

“We’re encouraged by the outpouring of thoughtful input from the community into this important process,” said Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center CEO David Dahlin. “The value of the community’s perspectives can’t be overstated as our mission continues to be primarily to the community at large. Hearing from so many what they value about the FAC and what they hope for the future will inform this next phase as we begin to develop programmatic directions that integrate the needs and hopes of both the CC community and the Colorado Springs community.”

The community comments will now be compiled, reviewed and considered in the next phase of the strategic planning process. The subcommittees will review the emerging themes for each of the Fine Arts Center’s three program areas (click on the link to see the emerging themes in each area): the museum, Bemis School of Art and performing arts, and begin to draft program planning.

The community comments and feedback reveal several overlapping themes that have surfaced in the various subcommittees’ work. These include:

  • Using the unique opportunities presented by the CC-FAC alliance to serve as a bridge to and between various communities
  •  Increasing access to and engagement with broader communities
  •  Preserving and enhancing programming for new and existing communities
  •  Leveraging resources and proximity of programs between CC and the FAC

On Feb. 1, 2017, the draft program plans will be shared with the broader community. From there, the timeline is as follows:

  •  March 15, 2017: Subcommittees submit final program plans to the Strategic Planning Committee
  •  April 2017: Strategic Planning Committee shares the draft comprehensive plan with the broader community
  •  May 1, 2017: Strategic Planning Committee submits the final comprehensive plan to the Strategic Plan Oversight Committee
  •  On or before June 30, 2017: Strategic Plan Oversight Committee approves the plan  

Community Engagement By the Numbers

Broad community outreach:                                # of participants

Four listening sessions                                                     287
One faculty/staff open house                                          106
Five CC academic department meetings                      34
Online input at the CSFAC website                               60
Physical comment cards                                                  81
Total:                                                                                   = 568

Subcommittee outreach:

23 large group sessions
(including area young professionals)                            582
13 focus groups                                                                  94
One electronic survey                                                       298

= 974

Number of actual comments received:

Listening sessions                                                               181
Website online input                                                          273
Comment cards                                                                   367

= 821

Comments are still being accepted (webpage includes a comment area) and more information is available at:


Presentation, Panel Looks at ‘The Future of College Art Museums’

Jessica Hunter-Larsen, left, and Sharon Corwin tour the collection at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

Sharon Corwin, professor of art, chief curator, and the Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby College Museum of Art, delivered a presentation on Nov. 3 titled “The Future of College Art Museums,” highlighting the bridge the Colby College Museum of Art is building between academic and public communities. Many affiliated with the historic Colorado College-Fine Arts Center alliance attended the presentation and subsequent panel discussion, which was moderated by Rebecca Tucker, CC professor of art and FAC museum director.

Corwin praised Colorado College and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center for the innovative, collaborative model that is being developed between the two, noting that the partnership can serve a model for others in the field.

Corwin says the Colby College Museum of Art’s primary goals are: to serve as a teaching resource for faculty and students; be a destination for visitors to the area; and contribute to the cultural landscape of the region. But, she says, “Academic engagement is the heart and soul of what we do.”

The Colby College Museum of Art, founded in 1959, has nearly 8,000 works and a collection that specializes in American and contemporary art with additional, select collections of Chinese antiquities and European paintings and works on paper.

The Colby College Museum of Art actively is partnering with other regional cultural institutions such as the Asia Society and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in New York City, which is helping to raise the museum’s national profile and level of scholarship, Corwin says.

The Colby museum also seeks to build professional experiences, mentorships, and networking opportunities for its students by offering internships at the museum as well as partnering with other institutions. Among those are the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Glasgow. “We want our students to have rich professional experiences,” Corwin says.

Colorado College’s I.D.E.A. Space programming, now in place for more than a decade, already incorporates many of these themes. CC’s program, begun in 2006, was designed from the outset so that exhibitions would be integrated into the teaching mission of the college.

The program has evolved over the years, says I.D.E.A. Space Curator Jessica Hunter-Larsen. “It has developed not so much through the establishment of a template, but through relationships with faculty to build understandings of their needs and how interaction with the visual arts can support teaching.”

She notes that curated projects allow students to respond to exhibition themes, contribute original research, analysis, or creative work to the exhibitions. “In what I’m calling an iterative exhibition model, some exhibitions continue to evolve over the course of two blocks, as we add students’ contributions. Exhibits are not ‘done,’ but evolve as layers of scholarship and multi-interpretations are added,” she says.

Additionally, students often present their work to the public. “It holds them accountable to a larger audience than their professors, makes them really think through the subject material,” she says. “You have to understand your topic thoroughly to describe it in 300 words or less to a novice audience.”

Some projects comprise a large portion of work over a block. One example is “Atomic Landscapes,” an exhibition that examined the nuclear history of the Southwest through the work of five contemporary artists. In the block prior to the Atomic Landscapes exhibition, students in Eric Perramond’s class Nature, Region and Society of the Southwest researched nuclear-related sites in New Mexico and wrote exhibition text that was included when the exhibit opened. Perramond is director of the Hulbert Center for Southwest Studies and director of the State of the Rockies Project.

Highlighting the program’s interdisciplinary nature, three other classes contributed to the exhibition during its run in Blocks 7 and 8: Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy Marion Hourdequin’s class Environmental Ethics contributed text; a Sound Art class created a sonic landscape inspired by the exhibition’s theme and visual materials that was included in the exhibition; and students in Associate Professor and Chair of Theatre and Dance Shawn Womack’s Participatory Art class interviewed senior citizens at a local community center about their memories of the bombing of Hiroshima or Cold War experiences, then performed monologues based on those narratives.

Another project highlighted in the presentation was a community partnership with Kris Stanec’s Power of the Arts in Education class. Stanec, assistant chair and lecturer in CC’s Education Department, says students work with area teachers to establish learning outcomes for an interaction with an IDEA exhibition. Students then develop and lead “tours” for area schoolchildren. The goal is to develop dynamic, interdisciplinary, inquiry-based interactions that meet teachers’ specific learning objectives and fulfill common core requirements.  Stanec hopes to demonstrate that learning in a museum can occur through means other than lectures, wall text, and head phones.

Says Hunter-Larsen, “these programs have been successful due to the experimental nature of CC’s faculty, their willingness to take risks with teaching.”

“There are boundless collaborative opportunities here,” says Perramond. The alliance “can enrich faculty approaches in new ways. I’m excited about this because it re-engages us in what drew many of us to the liberal arts in the first place,” he says.

In addition to Corwin, Hunter-Larsen, Stanec, and Perramond, panelists included Joy Armstrong, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Mario Montano, CC professor of anthropology.

Cynthia Lowen ’01 Shares Insights into Innovation

Cynthia Lowen '01

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Cynthia Lowen ’01, poet, writer, and producer of the Emmy-nominated documentary “Bully,” is visiting CC this block, sharing insight into her creative process, her experience as an artist, and how she innovates social change through her own creativity.

She spoke on campus Thursday, Nov. 3, as part of CC’s Innovative Minds series, which features speakers from various industries and backgrounds and allows them to share insights from their personal and professional experiences, and is a block visitor teaching a screenwriting course in the Department of Film and Media Studies during Block 3.

According to Jill Lange, program manager for Innovation at CC, Lowen “has maintained ties with the college in various capacities over the years” and Lange was excited when Lowen accepted the invitation to speak. Lange says she’s proud to showcase Lowen’s success in “navigating her own innovative, artistic career path.”

Lowen is an award-winning poet and film writer and a recipient of the Hedgebrook Women Authoring Change Prize. She wrote and produced the 2012 documentary “Bully,” which focuses on childhood bullying in America’s schools. “Bully” was nominated for two Emmys, and was awarded the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Journalism and the 2013 Stanley Cramer Award, among others. After the production of “Bully,” Lowen co-wrote “The Essential Guide to Bullying: Prevention and Intervention.” She has also published a poetry collection called “The Cloud That Contained the Lightning,” which won the 2012 National Poetry Series.

Next up on Innovation Thursdays: A Big Idea workshop titled “Minimum Viable Product” Thursday, Nov. 10, 4-5p.m. Morreale Carriage House for students interested in participating in the Big Idea competition to understand “what is a MVP, why it’s important and what it’s used for.

Venture Grants Fund Growth and Exploration for CC Students


By Alana Aadmot ’18

Keller Venture Grants, made possible by the Keller Family Foundation, allow hundreds of Colorado College students to create and implement their own research projects by providing students up to $1,000. Last year, the program provided nearly $150,000 in student research funds and saw 146 CC students pursue their own individual research projects on campus, across the United States, and around the world.

Last Spring Break, Celia O’Brien ’18 pursued her project titled “Teachers at Busesa Mixed Day and Boarding Primary School, Uganda.”  O’Brien spent three months teaching fifth grade students at this same school back in 2014 as part of her gap year, which served as inspiration for her project.

“I was really affected by my time there,” she elaborates, “I knew I needed to somehow find my way back. I took Professor Charlotte Mendoza’s Globalization of Education course my first year, and that sparked the idea to apply for a Venture Grant to return to the school and dig a little deeper.”

O’Brien formulate her idea into a plan to investigate the teachers at a particular school and the growing role of English in their classrooms. Particularly, she wanted to study what factors shape teachers’ lives, the daily and long-term challenges they face, and the experiences that shape and motivate them as teachers.

O’Brien’s research involved a series of interviews with teachers as well as classroom observations to learn “how the teachers interacted with the students, how they organized the class, and especially how they used English versus their local language,” she says.

“I was surprised to learn how much of themselves they invest in their students in unseen, or at least subtler ways,” O’Brien says of her results. “They spend so much time and energy and thought on the kids. This quality, I learned, isn’t very common in Ugandan schools; at this one (Busesa), the high quality and dedication of the teachers attracted new students every day I was there.” This popularity, O’Brien learned, brought new challenges to the school, leading her to explore not only the successes of the school but also the consequences of a success, all thanks to her Venture Grant.

Soren Frykholm ’17 also received Venture Grant funding, on two separate occasions, to enact his own projects. He pursued his first Venture Grant, “Going the Distance: The Effects of Travel on Team,” in the summer of 2015. Frykholm, a member of CC’s varsity men’s soccer team, traveled to England, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany with the team to play soccer, and with the aid of a Venture Grant, he was able to create a documentary film of their experiences.

“During our travels, I used my camera and some audio gear that I borrowed from CC’s film department to conduct interviews with all my teammates and many of the people we encountered on our trip,” describes Frykholm. “Over the course of 18 days, we played ten soccer games in four countries, toured many historic cities, volunteered at several local schools, and much more. I captured many of our best moments on camera.” The result was a ten-minute documentary, with a 25-minute extended edition, that examined the travel’s effect on the team and helped Frykholm grow his filmmaking skills.

“It slowly evolved to feature more of the people we were meeting instead of just the guys on our team,” he says of the progression of his project, “it became increasingly about not only the camaraderie forming between us, but also about the international connections we were making and the implications of the fact that we were acting as ambassadors for our school and our country. I ended up interviewing many of our hosts, some of whom were CC alumni, and others we met.”

Frykholm says he hopes that his work and the conversations it created inspired his team to do some deeper thinking “about the opportunities we have as CC students to expand our intellectual, cultural, and humanistic horizons,” like it did for him.

These are just two examples of the ways Venture Grants can be interpreted and enacted. Read more about Venture Grants and explore grants from years past. Or, hear from Venture Grant recipients at the 2016 Keller Venture Grant Forum Wednesday, Nov. 2, in Celeste Theatre. The event begins with presentations at 4:15 p.m., followed by a reception in Cornerstone Main Space at 5:15 p.m.