Outstanding Graduates–Spring 1997

OUTSTANDING GRADUATES–SPRING 1997 Colorado State University Below are outstanding students who will graduate from Colorado State University during commencement ceremonies May 17. All students are available for media interviews

BIOLOGY STUDENT TO RECEIVE HIGHEST HONOR GIVEN TO CITIZENS BY U.S. CONGRESS Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of Natural Sciences is just one of this year’s highlights for Kirsten Nickisch. The 22-year-old native of Pocatello, Idaho, will head to the nation’s capital in June to receive the Congressional Gold Award–one of the highest honors given by Congress to U.S. citizens. Nickisch is the second person from the state of Idaho to earn the award, which recognizes excellence in initiative, achievement and young people

To earn the award, applicants must set and meet goals in voluntary public service, personal development and physical fitness. Nickisch estimates she’s invested more than 1,000 hours to reach her goals

Nickisch speaks fluent Spanish and studied abroad through the university’s student exchange in Monterrey, Mexico. She does volunteer work at the university’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, where she has been accepted as a student for the fall semester. Call Nickisch at (970) 407-9829

STUDENT OBTAINS PH.D., LANDS JOB AS ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT COLORADO STATE Orlando Griego, 38, spent many years as a student–and now he’ll be teaching them. After earning a doctorate degree in human resource development this month, Griego will join the faculty in the College of Applied Human Sciences as an assistant professor

Griego, who grew up on welfare and whose own parents never graduated from high school, credits those people in his life who instilled in him the importance of education. Because of them, Griego attended a private high school that helped him get into college. He graduated from college in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in social work, then joined the U.S. Air Force for several years. While in the military, Griego returned to college for a master’s degree in human resource management

Thanks to a program launched by Colorado State President Albert Yates known as "Grow Your Own," which moves qualified minority doctoral candidates into faculty positions, Griego was offered a teaching position at Colorado State. "No doubt my present situation is a long distance from where I started," Griego says. "It truly has been a challenging journey." Call Griego at (970) 491-6906

ZOOLOGY GRADUATE TO STUDY IN GERMANY ON FULBRIGHT SCHOLARSHIP Nicole Rempel earned numerous accolades while at Colorado State, but recently was selected to receive one of the most prestigious award of all–the Graduate Fulbright Scholarship. Rempel, who graduates in May with a zoology degree from the College of Natural Sciences, will attend the Friedrich Wilhelms University in Bonn, Germany. Rempel, who speaks German, also will work in a laboratory studying human genetics and inheritable diseases

While at Colorado State, Rempel earned the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists scholarship, University of Colorado Health and Sciences Center’s Summer Student Cancer Fellowship, the Howard Hughes Undergraduate Biomedical Research Grant, and the Creative and Performance Arts Scholarship for clarinet performance. In her spare time, Rempel plays intramural soccer and softball

Rempel, a native of Greeley, plans to attend graduate school when she returns to the United States. Call (970) 667-7614

ROTC CADET TO DESIGN PLANES AT PRESTIGIOUS AIR FORCE INSTITUTE Andrew "Rusty" Powell, 28, was surrounded by airplanes while he was in the U.S. Air Force–and now he plans to use a degree in mechanical engineering to build them

Powell, a Colorado Springs native, is among 17 ROTC cadets nationwide selected to attend graduate school at the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio, where he will pursue an advanced degree in aeronautical engineering. He spent five years as an Air Force officer prior to entering college

Powell, who will graduate summa cum laude from the College of Engineering, was recently awarded the Society of American Military Engineers Award by the Air Force, an honor given to only 20 cadets nationwide. Powell is the only member of Colorado State’s ROTC detachment ever to receive the honor. Call Powell at (970) 491-8731

AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION STUDENT TO COMPETE FOR MISS COLORADO CROWN Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from the College of Agricultural Sciences is just half the battle for Sethe Tucker, 23. She also is set to compete in the Miss Colorado pageant in June

Tucker, a native of Hattisburg, Miss., captured the title of Miss Colorado State University March 29, which made her eligible for the statewide beauty pageant. Even if she doesn’t win, Tucker–the first African-American woman to capture the Miss CSU crown–enjoys talking about the importance of multicultural education as part of her platform

"I wanted to do this to set an example as a woman of color and as someone who cares about providing an education for students of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds," Tucker said

Tucker plans to work this summer for Colorado State’s Cooperative Extension as a teacher of multicultural education and as a leader for children involved in 4-H. Call Tucker at (970) 495-5116

COLLEGE OF BUSINESS STUDENT TAKES 21 YEARS TO EARN ACCOUNTING DEGREE Sally Kisselbach enrolled in a few accounting classes at Colorado State in the fall of 1976, and managed to squeeze one or two classes into her busy schedule as a mother of three and a full-time employee

But after all these years, Kisselbach, 45, graduates this month with honors and a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She will immediately apply her skills in the family’s plumbing business, based in Loveland

"I will now officially be the accountant," said Kisselbach. "My husband jokes that with my business degree, I might get ideas about planning a hostile takeover." Although attending college one or two classes at a time seemed daunting at times, Kisselbach said she never lost sight of her goal. "It was important to me to finish. I had worked so hard to stay on track because I knew my reward would come." Contact Kisselbach at (970) 663-3228

POLITICAL SCIENCE GRADUATE TAKES GETTING INVOLVED TO HEART Amy Downey knows that service is an important part of a career in public administration. The 23-year-old native of Stratton, Colo., applied the same criteria toward earning a bachelor’s degree in political science in the College of Liberal Arts

Downey, who is a candidate for magna cum laude, dived into service activities as a student. She singlehandedly helped resurrect Liberal Arts Day, a daylong event that celebrates the diversity of liberal arts degrees and helps students find their own career direction. She served as president of the university chapter of the Golden Key National Honor Society and is president of the college council, which serves as a liaison between student government and the colleges. In an attempt to get her feet wet in politics, Downey also spent two summers working for Gov. Roy Romer’s Department of Local Affairs

Next fall, Downey will pursue a graduate degree at George Washington University, one of the nation’s top public administration graduate schools located three blocks from the White House. Call (970) 221-2930

COLLEGE OF NATURAL RESOURCES STUDENT APPLIES LOVE OF LAND TO DEGREE Merrita Fraker’s ancestors homesteaded in Wyoming nearly 200 years ago, and the love of the range has trickled down to each generation since. So it’s no surprise that Fraker, 22, a native of Buffalo, Wyo., will graduate magna cum laude with a degree in range ecology

"I came from a ranching background and I like the community," she said. "I want to help bridge the gap between the environmentalists and the ranchers." Fraker’s college career is studded with academic and research achievements. She paid for more than half of her college education with academic scholarships, belongs to the Golden Key National Honor Society and recently was selected Outstanding Senior in the department of rangeland ecosystem science. For the past five summers, Fraker worked with the U.S. Forest Service and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Fraker plans to attend graduate school and obtain an advanced degree focusing on foraging behavior of animals that live on rangeland. Call Fraker at (970) 493-6823

SOCIAL WORK GRADUATE CAPS SENIOR YEAR WITH VISIT TO WHITE HOUSE All her life, Valerie Estrada was told she wouldn’t succeed. When Estrada, 38, receives her degree from the College of Applied Human Sciences this month, she will prove the naysayers wrong

Estrada grew up in a poor family in Denver, became pregnant at age 16, dropped out of high school and got married. She raised three daughters. In 1991, Estrada separated from her husband and enrolled at Colorado State, excited to start a new life

Soon after she began classes, her brother was diagnosed with AIDS. Estrada’s college career was put on hold when her oldest daughter was involved in a car accident. Two months later, her brother died. Despite the obstacles, she remained resolute in obtaining a college degree. She hopes to apply her social work degree toward helping other minority students go to college

Estrada shared her inspirational life story with President Clinton in the Oval Office in January, emphasizing the importance of financial aid programs for college students. "Meeting President Clinton was one of the most exciting moments of my life," Estrada said. "My senior year has been so exciting, and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead." Call Estrada at (970) 491-1332

VET STUDENT APPLIES DEGREE TOWARD HELPING ANIMALS THROUGH ACUPUNCTURE Narda Robinson employs rather unusual techniques to treat sick animals at Colorado State’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital– acupuncture and osteopathic medicine.

Robinson, who has a license to practice osteopathic medicine and acupuncture on human patients, saw similarities between some ailments in people and animals. That revelation gave her the idea to pursue a professional degree in veterinary medicine, which she will receive at commencement this month. Robinson plans to keep her private practices in Boulder and Fort Collins for human patients in addition to building an animal practice

"Using acupuncture and osteopathic medicine to treat animals can be just as effective as it is in treating a variety of ailments in humans," Robinson said. "Osteopathic medicine as a way to augment traditional forms of treatment is gaining a great deal of attention." Robinson received a bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and earned an osteopathic medicine degree from Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. She moved to Colorado in 1989. Call Robinson at (970) 495-0344.