at Colorado State University
Commencement and Commissioning ceremonies May 16, 17 and 18
The Class of 2012
Updated May 7, 2012
Following are brief profiles on just a few of the accomplished Spring 2012 Colorado State graduates. Whether overcoming tremendous obstacles or achieving academic excellence, these graduates have accomplished a major personal goal and are prepared to begin meaningful careers and become future leaders in their communities.
Boettcher Scholar, Animal Sciences graduate inspired by terminally ill father
It would be an understatement to say Katlin Hornig is poised for success in animal agriculture. Hornig is a Boettcher Scholar in the Colorado State University Honors Program who is graduating with a bachelor's degree in animal sciences and next fall will enter CSU's professional veterinary medical program. During her studies, Hornig has drawn inspiration from her terminally ill father, and has applied a work ethic she learned from childhood, when she awoke each morning at 3:30 to feed and water her family's Brabant Belgian draft horses before school.
The results of her motivation are extraordinary: Hornig exemplifies the most active and academically accomplished students at CSU. For her Honors Program senior thesis, Hornig conducted a research project titled "A Comprehensive Study of Carbohydrate and Fat Metabolism in Ovines throughout Gestation and Post-Partum," in which she identified a more accurate way to diagnose pregnancy toxemia in sheep.
Vet school won't be entirely new to Hornig. She has worked for three years as a technician in the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital's Large Animal, Radiology, Ophthalmology, Equine Surgery and Nuclear Medicine departments, where she has helped with procedures ranging from radiography to surgery. She also has handled bookkeeping for a local dairy, has overseen marketing and genetics management for a registered cattle ranch — and has continued to co-own and operate her family's draft-horse breeding and training business in southern Colorado. Hornig also has been active as an Agricultural Ambassador in the College of Agricultural Sciences, helping to recruit new students and to represent the college's work in contemporary sciences and food systems. As recipient of the college's Charles N. Shepardson Agricultural Student Leadership Award, Hornig will be a featured speaker during spring 2012 commencement. With young leaders like Katlin Hornig, it's safe to say agriculture will continue to thrive.
Warner College of Natural Resources graduate's journey comes full-circle
Leander Lacy's life has taken him on a journey that has come full-circle in ways he never imagined. He grew up in poverty in a single-mother household in urban Jacksonville, Fla. and left the house at 18 to help relieve the familial burden and pay his own way through community college and then university.
Originally on a track for a veterinary medicine degree at University of Florida, Lacy discovered a degree path in wildlife instead, and went on to work as a bear biologist in Florida. He then received a position as a research assistant at CSU, allowing him to pursue his master's degree at CSU's Warner College of Natural Resources. While at CSU, he received a Congressional Black Caucus Institute scholarship to participate in the Conservation Leadership program — a program he says changed his life.
While studying abroad for nine months in Mexico, Lacy discovered a soul-stirring connection to urban sustainability and connecting urban core residents to nature. He is the first member of his family to attend college and go on to study at the graduate level, and he is graduating as a member of the first cohort of the Conservation Leadership Through Learning master's program. He was invited to present his work to the Congressional Black Caucus and has also participated in university roundtables with nationally recognized sustainability speakers. Merging his professional passion for nature with the familiarity of his urban roots, Lacy plans to continue his work connecting urban residents with nature and has accepted a contract position with The Trust for Public Land in Denver working with inner-city youth to name a new community park. Although he has many accomplishments to be proud of, Lacy says he is most proud of the fact that his perseverance inspired his two sisters to return to school and his oldest nephews to attend college in the fall.
Natural Sciences student creates mentoring program
Jessi Ahrens, biological sciences major, will leave behind a legacy after forming a mentoring program for College of Natural Sciences students. The program assists incoming freshmen with the social and academic transition to CSU, as well as provides them with opportunities to get involved on campus. Monthly events are held for mentor and mentee bonding, creating a relaxed environment for students to learn and socialize at CSU. Coordinating the events and mentor program got Ahrens involved on campus. Ahrens plans to pursue a career in the brewing industry, but also plans to stay involved in the mentor program.
Business Administration student earns degree after serving on U.S. Army bomb squad
Jordan Speaker is graduating cum laude with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Finance. Prior to his degree, Speaker served as a bomb squad technician in the U.S. Army where he was responsible for diffusing dangerous roadside bombs as well as managing the planning of all training for his unit of 50 people.
While on a 15-month deployment to Iraq he responded to over a 100 missions, which often included imminent threats to loss of life or high value property. After completing his service he took his leadership skills, experience in high-risk situations and project management experience to the business school. While at CSU, Speaker has served in various officer roles in the CSU Summit Fund, served as a Veteran mentor and was an integral part of the CSU Global Investment Research Challenge. To pursue his career ambitions, Speaker will take the Charted Financial Analyst Exam in June and has accepted an offer to attend the Rice University Master's Business Administration Program.
Veterinary student overcomes physical obstacles to become a college graduate
Layne Jarrett is graduating from the veterinary program as a doctor of veterinary medicine. During her time at CSU, Jarrett experienced traumatic events causing her to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. As a result, she has had to use a service dog named Aurora. Jarrett also has struggled with progressive vision loss and leg weakness for the past year, eventually receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in March 2012 and was recently confined to a wheelchair. However, she has persevered to finish the veterinary program requirements and go on to graduate this spring. Although it will be a challenge to make any future plans with her condition, Jarrett is confident in her abilities and is excited to see what the future will bring.
Vocal performance major plans to pursue career in opera
Chaazi Munyanya, a vocal performance major, will pursue her dream of becoming an opera singer after graduating from CSU. Munyanya discovered a passion for singing in high school, and three years ago Munyanya began studying with Dr. Tiffany Blake at CSU. "(Dr. Blake) is the one who inspired me to pursue a vocal performance degree and to continue on with a career in opera and classical music. She has helped me in so many ways vocally — she is truly a mentor," said Munyanya. Most opera singers do not fully mature vocally until around age 30, so a lot of studying and training is required for Munyanya to pursue her passion for opera. In the fall she will attend graduate school at the prestigious University of North Texas College of Music.
Interior Design graduate designs to heal, experiences one of the world's top-rated architecture and design firms
Ali Carleo is graduating from the College of Applied Human Sciences with a concentration in Interior Design. Carleo is a Pueblo, Colo. native who moved to Fort Collins for the highly regarded CIDA accredited Interior Design program. As a freshman, she was awarded entry, and scholarship, into the University Honors Program, which she stayed active in throughout her four years at CSU. Carleo will graduate wearing green this May, as one of the select 40 interior design graduates. Her senior year capstone project focused on the healthcare and research side of design, creating spaces to increase health and wellness. Through the Department of Design and Merchandising, Carleo received a grant which allowed her to travel to New York City and experience first-hand one of the world's top-rated healthcare architecture and design firms, Cannon Design. With a portfolio including an undergraduate thesis and a 45,000 square foot non-profit foundation located in Pueblo, Carleo plans to take her career to the east coast of the United States and move into the specialized sector of healthcare design. After graduation, she will attend a world-renowned design expo, NeoCon 2012, to participate in a design charrette as a nominated International Interior Design Association (IIDA) student representative of Colorado State University.
Non-traditional student graduates with support from family and full-time employer
As a non-traditional student and father of three, Brent Rosecranz will graduate with a bachelors of science in mechanical engineering in May. Not only is he a student, father, and husband, but Rosencranz has managed to maintain a full-time job while completing his degree. Having a supportive and encouraging family kept him motivated to finish despite the challenges of being a non-traditional student on a traditional college campus. The flexibility of his employer was also helpful in completing his degree and missing minimal class sessions. After being recently promoted by his current employer, Rosencranz plans to continue employment as a reliability engineer at Avago Technologies after graduation.
Warner College of Natural Resources graduate helps orphaned youth in Kenya
Connor Jandreau is a an Honors Scholar with a 3.87 GPA, double majoring in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology and Studio Art, and he is also the founder of heART Africa Fund, a 501(3)(c) dedicated to sponsoring orphaned youth in Kenya to pursue secondary education through the donated sale of artwork. Jandreau has been involved in an amazing breadth of activities at the Warner College of Natural Resources and is an active member of the CSU student chapters of The Wildlife Society and Society for Conservation Biology. He has conducted field internships on projects that range from estimating snowshoe hare populations to investigating human-wildlife conflict in communities in Tanzania. He also served as a field team leader for three months in the remote location of the Yukon River Basin in Alaska — sampling a diversity of plants, mammals, bird, and fish for a large-scale biodiversity assessment and monitoring program.
While his scientific studies are remarkable, the key moment in Jandreau's academic career happened while studying abroad for four months in Kenya and working with a local orphanage there. His experience in Kenya established a lasting connection for him to Africa, spurred the creation of his non-profit, and solidified his passion for the nexus of humans and nature and the answer to the question – how do we develop sustainably while conserving natural resources? After graduation, Jandreau is planning to travel to Manitoba to pursue a master's degree in natural resource management and also plans to continue his work and travels in Kenya.
Social Work graduate strives to help others
Esmeralda Rodriguez is graduating with a degree in social work and a 3.5 GPA. She will also be the first person to graduate from college in her family. During her time at CSU, Rodiguez has participated in several clubs and events including the Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, The Matthews House, Key Academics, the President's Leadership Program, CSU/UADY Leadership Program, El Centro First Year Peer Mentoring Program, Council for Opportunity in Education Leadership Program, Residence Hall Tour Guide, NASPA Undergraduate Felloes Program, Triunfo, Ram Welcome Leader, the Daniels Fund and the Puksta Scholar program.
She also studied abroad at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom in the summer of 2009 and the University of Barcelona, Spain for the 2012 spring semester. Rodriguez has been recognized as the CSU Junior Leader of the Year, the 20120 Sorority Woman of the Year for Outstanding Campus Involvement and the 2012 Colorado TRIO student representative for the Council for Opportunity in Education's 32nd Annual policy seminar in Washington D.C. After graduation, Rodriguez will search for jobs where she can help unrepresented students go to college as well as travel abroad while she has the time.
Non-traditional student overcomes challenges to pursue forestry passion
Jefry (Jef) Hanson is a non-traditional student who has worked hard to overcome family and financial challenges to pursue a passion he discovered by fate. After completing his bachelor's degree in Recreation Management from Kansas State University, one of Hanson's teachers gave him the unexpected opportunity to earn his Red Card — an interagency certification card that qualifies an individual to fight fire with a federal agency or on federal land. Before he knew it, Hanson was offered a position at Zion National Park and developed a strong interest in forestry that would shape his future academic and professional career.
Hanson eventually left Kansas to come to CSU and earn his forestry degree, and also has discovered a love for teaching others through his forestry field course, Teacher's Assistant position, volunteer work with the Colorado State Forest Service and Society of American Foresters Alpha Student Chapter. His strong work ethic and academic achievements won Hanson multiple job offers, and he chose to accept a position with Colorado State Forest Service as a wild land fire intern through October. He hopes to earn a full-time position where he can continue to work on fire science and fire suppression and also plans to continue helping others though his volunteer service.
Art major finds time for music passion
Julia Williams is gifted in two areas, and will graduate with an art major and music minor. She wrote and illustrated a children's book for her honors design thesis, and hopes to illustrate children's books professionally. Her internship at Vermilion Design + Interactive in Boulder gave her real-world experience dealing with clients, meetings and tight deadlines. Williams was able to see how the collaborative design process works in an agency, and designed logos, web sites, e-mails, ads, brochures and other materials that have been used by clients. In addition to her artistic skills, Julia played French horn in the University Symphony Orchestra and plans to join a community orchestra following graduation.
First generation student paves way for family to follow
Juan Martinez, a chemistry major and first-generation student, plans to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine after graduation. Being a first generation student was hard work and challenging at times, Martinez said, but he learned the value of higher education and looks forward to encouraging his family members to follow in his footsteps. As the former president of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, this position enabled him to develop professional leadership skills and grow personally as a young scientist. This experience also increased his research and presentation skills through undergraduate research, presenting and nationally being recognized for his chemistry research at the 2009 SACNAS National Conference in Texas. Martinez has applied to biomedical post-baccalaureates programs and research assistantships for after graduation and looks forward to continuing his education.
Theater major makes plans to start own business
Kaylen Higgens, a Theater major, plans to pursue a career in stage management after graduation. The stage manager for several plays and performances at CSU, Higgens learned the importance of communicating with all members involved in a production while developing successful management skills. She won the Theatrical Design Excellence award at the Region VII theater competition in the Stage Management category for her work on the CSU production of "A Few Good Men", and was invited to attend the Kennedy Center American Collegiate Theater Festival in Washington, D.C. She hopes to eventually own her own stage management company in New York.
Mechanical engineering student learns importance of receiving education
After spending three years as an HVAC-R technician apprentice, Adam Friss decided to attend CSU to obtain a degree in mechanical engineering. Three years in crawl spaces and attics repairing equipment was the motivation Friss said he needed to get a degree. Working as the apprentice gave him the hands-on experience and knowledge about mechanical engineering and led him to become a lab tech for the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory. At the lab, he installed new engine test cells, designed systems (fuel, plumbing, high pressure natural gas injection, etc.), and collected data. Friss recently was accepted into CSU's Mechanical Engineering Graduate program and plans to pursue a Ph.D. He will be working with Azer Yalin's research group at the Engineering Research Center in the Laser and Plasma Diagnostics Laboratory.
Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences graduate uses diverse background to her advantage
Sherry Sun is graduating from the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences with a minor in food safety. A dual citizen of Taiwan and United States, Sun went to school in Boston, Taiwan and Seattle while she was growing up. She graduated high school when she was 16 years old and became a youth ambassador to Taiwan due to her strong English proficiency and diverse background. While working as a youth ambassador, Sun was able to travel to many places internationally before earning enough money to pay her own way through college. While studying at CSU, she was president of the Fort Collins chapter of the Taiwanese Community Association and found her passion for studying preventable diseases. After graduation, she plans to hold an internship position with the Prowers County health department where she will be assisting with restaurant inspections, child care center inspections and possibly hog farm inspections. Sun also plans to attend graduate school after establishing herself in the professional world.
Business administration graduate perseveres and overcomes debilitating disease to graduate
Brittany Spurlock is graduating with a bachelor's degree in business administration and a concentration in marketing. As an incoming freshman, Spurlock was diagnosed with chronic lyme disease and continued to struggle with her illness during her college years. While at CSU, she has overcome cognitive issues, muscular and joint pain as well as a heart disorder. However, Spurlock was not going to let this hold her back. Through her illness, she still has been an active member of the business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, since spring 2010 and has maintained a high GPA. She has also held an internship at the Denver marketing and PR firm, Philosophy Communications, and is currently consulting in social media for St. Philip Early Learning Center. She says that her experiences at CSU have been life changing and that the campus will forever have a place in her heart.
Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences graduate leads Uganda Village Project
Anupama Mehrotra is graduating from the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. Originally from Fort Collins, Mehrotra has made the best of her time at CSU. She has been involved in Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement, or SLiCE; led two alternative spring break trips and participated in several others; and has participated in the President's Leadership Program. She also has worked on several projects including conducting indoor air quality assessments in community members' homes in Fort Collins looking at risk factors for asthma and spent the summer of 2011 in Uganda, where she led a team of volunteers with the Uganda Village Project in malaria and AIDS education. Mehrotra currently holds an internship position at New Belgium Brewing Co., where she is studying food safety.
Student double major makes big plans for after graduation
Ashanti Robinson, a double major in zoology and biochemistry, not only enjoys science, but she has a passion for leadership. Being president of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, or SACNAS, has opened her eyes to the amount of work that goes into being a leader of a successful organization while maintaining her grades. After taking on a second major in biochemistry her junior year, Robinson set some high goals for herself. She plans on continuing research in the plant pathology lab and is pursuing a job in Fort Collins. She wants to travel through Europe in the spring, and plans to finish her education by attending graduate school in fall 2013. She would like to stay involved with SACNAS after graduation.
Performing Arts major makes plans to pursue career in dance
Jenna Spengler, a Performing Arts major, will use her choreography skills and passion for dance in summer classes with the prestigious Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, an iconic Denver dance company. She later plans to audition for dance companies after graduation. Being a top member in the Tour Dance Company, a pre-professional company at CSU Dance Program, has taught Spengler the importance of a good attitude and the willingness to push herself to new levels. "She has a hunger to learn and is a consistent dancer," says Chung-Fu Chang, associate professor and director of CSU Tour Dance Company. Dancing became her passion at age 4, and through hard work and determination, Spengler is eager to pursue a career in dance
Design and Merchandising graduate promotes sustainable living
Carrie Zwisler is graduating summa cum laude from the College of Applied Human Sciences with a concentration in Interior Design and is a recipient of high honors in selection to the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and National Collegiate Scholars, representing the top 7 percent of her class. Zwisler has also been actively engaged as a member of CSU's American Society of Interior Designers student organization, served as publicity chair and the Design & Merchandising Diversity Committee, and contributed knowledge and perspective on Muslim women and veiling traditions presented through a program requiring her to organize a speaker and presentation to heighten cultural awareness on campus. She is also a recipient of the Colorado Chapter of the Network of Executive Women In Hospitality and a national award winner in the Planning and Visual Education Partnership (PAVE) competition submission for a pop-up retail solution for Sephora. Growing up, Zwisler's home life was free of modern conveniences. She was raised in an off-grid log cabin built by her father on 40 acres in the middle of a forest, and from day one, her house recycled, composted, was solar-lit, ran on a well and had an in-house green house. Now her passion for sustainable living is demonstrated in her development of an eco-resort in Cape Town, South Africa, addressing an endangered and biodiverse area of the world. During her time at CSU, Swisler has proven herself as a commensurate problem-solver, but more importantly, one with an empathetic perspective on helping others.
Music major and Fort Collins Symphony member graduates
Sabrina Romney hopes to continue playing viola professionally after graduating with a degree in music. Her short-term plans involve a collaborative recital with her sister in June and attending the American Conservatory of Music in Fontainebleau, France, for four weeks during the summer. She began taking music lessons from her mother at age 4 and discovered a passion for the viola in seventh grade. Her CSU music education helped her grow as a performer and encouraged her to perform in various music competitions. Romney was a finalist for the 2012 CSU Concerto Competition as well as the Arapahoe Philharmonic Competition. Romney looks forward to staying in Colorado and continuing to perform as an orchestral musician, member of a string quartet or as a soloist.