In the spring of 2004, I chose Colorado College for my undergraduate education. This past spring I was thrilled to choose Colorado College again, but now as a member of the faculty.

Returning to CC is an honor and a privilege. My years as a student were transformative. Neither of my parents attended college, but the community I found at CC helped me thrive despite not knowing how to navigate the land of academia. I discovered my passions and built the tools I needed to succeed in my career. I now want to help our current students do the same.

By the time I left CC I knew that I wanted to teach physics and astronomy at a liberal arts institution. As a Colorado native, it was my hope to ultimately come back home to teach. Since CC is the only school of its caliber in the Rocky Mountain region, I knew my hope was almost impossible. And yet, timing is everything. Coming full circle, I am stepping into the position of my undergraduate advisor, Barbara Whitten. I cannot fill her shoes, but only strive to wear my own and bring my own unique perspective to the campus community.

This past year I reacquainted myself with CC as a visiting faculty member. From teaching introductory physics to quantum mechanics, I looked forward to every class session. Each classroom is a small community. I support each community as best I can, even with things as simple as creating a student-controlled music playlist for each class. The Block Plan also provides exceptional and unmatched opportunities for intense study and in-depth exploration of class material. Our students are inquisitive and creative. I regularly see both traits blossom, like when a student develops a senior capstone project around a chosen topic or asks an insightful question of a guest speaker or lecturer.

Over the past year I also learned the ways CC has changed since my graduation. Some changes are very obvious: we have a new arts building, a remodeled dining hall (with much better food!), and a new library. Some changes are not as obvious as new buildings, but are just as important. Since 2014, the Butler Center serves as the hub for the ongoing work of building an inclusive college community. The staff at the Butler Center challenge students, staff, and faculty alike to engage and take personal responsibility for our role in making CC more equitable for all.

Choosing CC again was really about finding the right match. CC also had to choose me. I knew that match would only be possible at a school committed to building an inclusive community. I saw that commitment this past year, but there is more to do. The work is difficult, but so is teaching on the Block Plan. This is a community that does not shy away from a challenge, and is a community I am proud to be a part of. Time to get to work.

Assistant Professor Natalie Gosnell ’08 graduated cum laude from Colorado College with her B.A. in Physics. She went on to earn her M.S. and Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and then was the W. J. McDonald Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research in astrophysics focuses on binary stars that challenge our understanding of how stars evolve.