RED Magazine Fall 2022

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METROPOLITAN STATE UNIVERSITY OF DENVER MAGAZINE | FALL 2022 FENTANYLAGAINSTFIGHTTHE also : FOOD AS BRONCOSLITERARYMEDICINELUMINARYFOOTBALLAsthedeadlydrugdrivesrecordoverdoses,legislators,lawenforcementandbehavioralhealthexpertspushback.

2 RED MAGAZINE | FALL 2022 FALL 2022 | CONTENTS FEATURES 8 The fight against fentanyl As the deadly drug drives record overdoses, legislators, law enforcement and behavioral health experts push back. 14 Food as medicine Roadrunners are passing along the recipe for a healthier future. 18 The future of journalism MSU Denver’s Journalism program prepares students for a new reality in media. 2 First word 3 News 22 Teen with a dream Alumna Anna Jane Watson makes history as one of MSU Denver’s youngest graduates. 24 Success by design Alumnus Schuyler Livingston combines art and science to bring innovative ideas to life. 26 Mom on a mission Alumna Nikki Brooker creates communities of support for modern mothers. 28 Roadrunners 30 In memory 32 PR legend ticketed for Hall of Fame Alumnus Jim Saccomano reflects on his storied career and the new era for Broncos football. on the cover : Illustration by Rhonald fromnewsColorado-flavoredBlommestijnandcultureMSUDenver HERTWIGSARA

Neighborhood watch Colorado Avalanche fans who couldn’t score tickets for the Stanley Cup Final at soldout Ball Arena didn’t need to travel far to watch the games with a raucous crowd. The neighboring Auraria Campus played host to watch parties for the first five contests of the series, with some of the events drawing as many as 10,000 fans. The Avs took home their first Cup in 21 years, but they weren’t the only winners —— the Metropolitan State University of Denver-affiliated Tivoli Brewery and SpringHill Suites by Marriott Denver Downtown got a serious boost in foot traffic, revenue and public awareness.

Greathouse and other faculty members are engaging with students about the crisis. Students are being WORDFIRST



In this issue of RED Magazine, you’ll read about some of those challenges — including the frightening and daunting topic detailed in our cover story — and the people working to address Fentanyl,them.thehighly addictive and deadly synthetic opioid, is ravaging Coloradans. The rapid growth of fentanyl-related deaths in the state is staggering, increasing by 1,200% over a five-year period. “There is no face to fentanyl,” said Tanya Greathouse, Ph.D., assistant professor in MSU Denver’s Department of Social Work. “It’s everywhere.”

Metropolitan State University of Denver’s decadeslong mission to provide high-quality, accessible education to Coloradans is alive and well.

Sincerely, JOHN ARNOLD Editor-in-Chief, RED Magazine Metropolitan State University of Denver

The result: Hundreds of additional students will have an opportunity to achieve the dream of a college education and graduate ready to tackle the complex challenges facing our city, state and country.

Over the past year, MSU Denver has worked to develop and expand financial aid programs that will make a college education possible for thousands of students who otherwise would not be able to afford it. About 30% of MSU Denver undergraduates do not pay for tuition, and that number is expected to grow this fall thanks to the Roadrunner Promise.Launched several years ago, the financial aid program pays tuition and fees for eligible students whose costs aren’t covered by other assistance. The University recently expanded the Roadrunner Promise program so that even more students are eligible for a tuition-free education. Additionally, MSU Denver established a new financial aid program to cover college costs for Indigenous students. The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of Metropolitan State University of Denver or imply endorsement by its officers or by the MSU Denver Alumni Association. MSU Denver does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation or disability in admissions or access to, or treatment or employment in, its educational programs or activities. challenged to envision solutions and prepared to stem the problem through hands-on coursework, internships and other experiential learning opportunities. It’s but one example of how MSU Denver students, alumni and supporters strive to improve the well-being of their communities. In this issue, you’ll also meet Ines Calvete Barrios and Thalia Rodriguez, two recent graduates of the University’s Health Care Management program, who launched a series of community cooking classes focused on creating traditional Latinx recipes with healthy substitutes.Andyou’ll be reintroduced to Rob Cohen, former longtime MSU Denver Board of Trustees chair, who is the most recent winner of the University’s prestigious Marathon Award. Cohen oversaw a physical transformation of the University’s campus, led the fight for a special tuition rate for undocumented students and established a scholarship program for student-athletes. “It’s about the mission, and it’s about transformational change,” Cohen said of his motivation for championing the University for more than two decades. “The students who come out of this institution are truly transforming our city, our state and our country.”Thisedition of the magazine celebrates those students and graduates, who are fulfilling the promise of their college education, using that experience to build a better life for themselves and a better world for all of us.

The promise of a college degree

Literary luminary Read more about theandauthorbook

CLARANMALYSONc Kali Fajardo-Anstine celebrated the highly anticipated release of her novel “Woman of Light” at the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver on June 7-8. The author of the National Book Award-nominated short-story collection “Sabrina & Corina” and English and Chicana/o Studies graduate of Metropolitan State University of Denver discussed her latest literary triumph and took questions from the audience. Over a decade in the making, the book weaves vibrant characters through a nonchronological intergenerational timeline. Fajardo-Anstine’s storytelling is quick and sharp, iridescent and expansive. The result is a rollicking summer read that’s easy to dive into and hard to put down.


Roadrunner Promise “Not having to worry about how I pay for college is a big deal.”

The expanded program will offer free tuition and fees for up to four years for

LEARN MORE: financial-aid/

Launched in 2017, the program pays tuition and fees for eligible students whose costs aren’t covered by other aid programs. Initially, prospective students who demonstrated on financial aid applications that their families couldn’t contribute more than $2,400 to their education were eligible for free tuition.

Students (left to right) Alex Chavez and Sage Sigman


FINANCIAL AID Sage Sigman was homeless when he decided to enroll at Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2019, and he had no idea how he would pay for his education. At the University’s Financial Aid Office, he learned he was eligible for grants and scholarships that would cover his college“Notcosts.having to worry about how I pay for college is a big deal because it allows me to focus on my studies and to develop professionally, personally and academically,” said Sigman, a sophomore majoring in Political Science and Communication Studies. Sigman is among the nearly 5,000 MSU Denver students, roughly 30% of undergraduates, who do not pay for tuition and fees. That number will grow this fall, with the expansion of the Roadrunner Promise program.

— SAGE SIGMAN, STUDENT SCHWENGELAMANDA first-time, full-time students with family incomes of less than $60,000 per year, said Will Simpkins, Ed.D., vice president for Student Affairs at MSU Denver. Simpkins estimates that an additional 5% to 10% of the University’s undergraduates will have their tuition and fees fully funded by the expansion. “We work hard to ensure that every Coloradan has the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree, and part of creating opportunity is eliminating financial barriers to study,” he MSU Denver’ssaid. move to expand accessibility comes as the Biden administration advocates for increased federal investments to make college more affordable. Between 1980 and 2020, the average price of tuition, fees and room and board for an undergraduate degree increased by 180%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In addition to expanding its own financial aid program, MSU Denver is working to get more students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and the Colorado Application for State Financial Aid. Nearly 30% of students don’t file either aid, school would be “a difficult burden,” said Alex Chavez, a junior studying Human Nutrition. “The aid I’ve received has been a tremendous help,” Chavez added. “I think it’s important to use the resources that are available to us because this school really wants all students to succeed.”

According to the American Indian Graduate Center, 14.5% of the American Indian and Alaska Native population has completed a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 31.3% of the overall population.

Metropolitan State University of Denver will fully cover Indigenous students’ tuition and fees beginning this fall through a combination of federal, state and institutional grants.

Weiden, a member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation, underscored the importance of education to improve socioeconomic mobility, along with “opening up worlds of literature, music, science and more.”

Aguirre, who is also vice president of the University’s Native and Indigenous Student Alliance, said building a supportive community is essential in helping students like her achieve their academic goals.

“This is long overdue,” said David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Ph.D., professor of Political Science at MSU Denver and leader of the University’s Native American Studies program.

Simpkins said MSU Denver is collaborating on the initiative with Indigenous leaders as well as internal and external communities.

“I’m really excited,” said Kyla Aguirre, a Political Science student and member of the Chickasaw Nation. “It’s an opportunity for me, my siblings and other family members that hadn’t existed before.”

Eligible students must be Colorado residents enrolled with one of the 574 federally recognized nations and must register for at least one credit toward a badge, certificate or first bachelor’s degree, up to 125 credits.

“It’s an opportunity for me, my siblings and other family members that hadn’t existed before.”


fallbeginningbyfeeshave(pictured)RichardswilltuitionandcoveredMSUDenverinthesemester. GEBREEGZIABHERABREHAM


The initiative builds upon legislation passed last year requiring state higher education institutions to offer an in-state tuition classification to Native students who are members of Indigenous nations with historical ties to Colorado.

Tuition covered for Indigenous students

studentsIndigenoussuch as Deserea

Will Simpkins, Ed.D., vice president of Student Affairs, called the mission-driven effort “an important first step” in the University’s push to offset “the almost-400-year history of an American higher education system built to serve the privileged few.”


Alongcapitalists.withthecompetition, the event celebrated the establishment of an endowment fund that will support the center as well as the complementary academic program.


The Center for Entrepreneurship launched in 2020, four years after the entrepreneurship program. Since then, the program has awarded 128 bachelor’s degrees.

They had seven minutes to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. On the line were a $2,500 cash prize and important connections in the business world. Four students from Metropolitan State University of Denver’s College of Business took part in this spring’s pitch competition, one component of a special event put on by the Center for Entrepreneurship to showcase its students to entrepreneurs and venture


Mariner Kemper, who is president, chairman and CEO of UMB Financial Corp., and his family, longtime benefactors of MSU Denver, funded the endowed chair.

“I’m looking forward to enhancing the center’s commitment to the students and community over the next several years,” said David Bechtold, associate professor of Management at MSU Denver and the first recipient of the Kemper Family Foundation Endowed Chair.

Business is booming



PITCH COMPETITION $2,500 Ignacio Salas (right) won the Center

This year’s pitch-competition winner was Ignacio Salas, who graduated in May with a double major in Finance and Management. His idea, a prototype for 100%-recycled and -recyclable plastic shipping pallets, was inspired by working in the warehouse at his family’s business in Mexico, where he saw countless pallets thrown away. “The way my business idea works is to use the least amount of plastic to create a pallet,” he said. Salas appreciated the cash prize but said the connections and affirmation were even more“Thisvaluable.isagreat experience for students,” said Bechtold. “It’s a way for them to get some seed money for their businesses. And it’s a nice way of proving to the world that MSU Denver students can compete with anyone in the country.”

With support from Patrick Griswold, associate professor in the College of Health and Human Sciences, Miller modified a tool called the postpartum-bonding questionnaire to measure variables such as substance use, single- or dual-caregiver households and homelessness. Informed by 253 responses, Miller’s research clearly showed that substance use negatively impacts the mother-infant bond. She wants to use that research to help pregnant women and new moms seek out support services, and she intends to share it with treatment providers to ensure a more trauma-informed approach to care.

When Robert Cohen looks back on his 30-year journey with Metropolitan State University of Denver, he sees a University transformed.


“Substance use isn’t a moral defect but an addiction. This realization helped me to define my Honors

Difference is the spirit of determination and persistence that drives students to achieve success on campus and in their careers,” said MSU Denver President Janine Davidson, Ph.D. “Rob is the epitome of the Roadrunner Difference, and his contributions to this University are profound and unparalleled.”


MSU Denver honored Cohen at its Commencement ceremonies May 13 as winner of the Marathon Award, the University’s highest honor. The award recognizes distinguished members of the community who are dedicated to MSU Denver’s mission and who demonstrate a spirit of service that reflects society’s highest values. Cohen served on the MSU Denver Foundation board from 1998-2005 and on the University’s Board of Trustees from 2008-2015, including five years as chair. In 2017, the Cohen family announced the Molly and Rob Cohen Athletic Pacesetter Scholarship Program, which has awarded 29 scholarships to student-athletes. The Assembly Athletic Complex’s 23,000-square-foot athletic center was named the Cohen Center for Athletics in honor of the family that year. research project, but I needed help bringing it into focus.”

Change agent: Robert Cohen

For her Honors Program thesis, Ashley Miller knew exactly what she would focus on: the impact of substance abuse on the mother-child bond. The topic was not just academic. Her mother was an addict. And Miller grew up in the foster-care system wondering why her mom had chosen meth over her.

“My goal is to help providers understand that if we help the mom get sober, we create generational change that breaks the cycle,” she

When Miller was 22 years old, someone brought meth to a party, and she decided to try it. Ten years of pain and addiction followed. It wasn’t until she lost custody of her children that she got clean. She ultimately got her children back and enrolled at Metropolitan State University of Denver, concentrating in Addiction Studies.

Miller graduated with honors this spring and plans to continue her research in the MSU Denver master’s degree program in Clinical Behavioral Health and Addiction Counseling this fall.

“I learned through my own experiences and my education at MSU Denver that my mom didn’t choose meth over me,” she said, “but stigma kept her from receiving the proper treatment and care she needed to address her substance use.


Breaking the cycle of substance abuse

MSU Denver’s transition to university status, increase in diversity, addition of graduate programs and new campus buildings, and the establishment of a special tuition rate for undocumented students all happened under Cohen’s watch as a longtime member and chair of the MSU Denver Board of Trustees. One thing that hasn’t changed over the decades: his motivation for serving and supporting the institution. “It’s about the mission, and it’s about transformational change,” said Cohen, chairman and CEO of IMA Financial Group Inc. “I think the students who come out of this institution are truly transforming our city, our state and our country.”



“If we help the mom get sober, we create generational change that breaks the cycle.”

8 RED MAGAZINE | FALL 2022 ric Perez was a success story. He grew up in south Denver in an environment plagued by poverty, gang violence and incarceration, but he pursued higher education at Metropolitan State University of Denver to better his life and help others do the same.

Perez spent six years as a youth mentor in MSU Denver’s Journey Through Our Heritage program, which pairs its students with local highschoolers from at-risk populations. Perez showed students with backgrounds similar to his that they could be successful too. At the University, he won student leadership awards and became president of Journey Through Our Heritage. In the community, he led a Bible study group and was active with Conservation Colorado, traveling to Washington, D.C., to testify on conservation legislation. “He liked to teach others, to show them how you can make progress,” said Perez’s grandmother, Patricia Perez. “He was determined to get intoIncollege.”May2021, Perez became the first person in his family to graduate from college, reaching that milestone achievement with a degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology and a bright future ahead of him. But less than a year later, he was gone. He died of a fentanyl overdose in April. “This fentanyl epidemic is devastating the best and brightest people we have,” said Renee Fajardo, J.D., coordinator of the Journey Through Our By Matt Watson • Illustration by Rhonald Blommestijn As the deadly drug drives record overdoses, legislators, law enforcement and behavioral health experts push back. FENTANYLAGAINSTFIGHT





Eric Perez, the first person in his family to earn a college degree, received his diploma from MSU Denver in May 2021.

Drug overdoses claimed the lives of 108,000 people in the United States in 2021, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s one death every 4.9 minutes on average.

Overdose deaths in the U.S. have been trending up since the 1990s, starting with increased prescribing of opioids and soaring in recent years due to the proliferation of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. The CDC says fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin, and widespread illicit manufacturing of the drug has made it affordable and accessible to

But Perez became one of many lost to overdose. In Colorado, deaths involving fentanyl increased 1,200% over a five-year period, with more Coloradans dying of a fentanyl overdose in 2020 than the previous five years combined. The rise in deaths spurred the state legislature this year to pass a contentious law increasing the penalties for fentanyl possession and distribution. Meanwhile, behavioral health experts and educators, such as those at MSU Denver, have advocated for alternative solutions and are engaged in preparing the next generation of mental health professionals for work in an increasingly critical field.

Heritage program, who remembers the positive impact her standout student had on the program and classmates.

“If he had lived long enough,he havewouldmade a hugedifference in so manypeople’s lives.”

virtually anyone, including many who unknowingly use fentanyl mixed into other substances by sellers looking to enhance the potency of different drugs.

“He was just so dedicated and motivated,” she said. “Even after graduating, he kept coming back to help us.”

In an attempt to address the drug crisis in Colorado, state legislators passed House Bill 22-1326, which made it a felony to possess more than 1 gram of a substance that contains any amount of fentanyl, reduced from 4 grams under previous law. Individuals who can prove in a trial that they did not knowingly possess fentanyl can have their charge reduced to a misdemeanor. The bill also established mandatory drug treatment for people convicted of fentanyl-related crimes and made investments in overdose-reversing medicine such as naloxone.

“This comprehensive plan cracks down on dealers peddling this poison in our communities and invests in proven public health strategies to prevent overdoses and death,” House Speaker Alec Garnett said in a statement after the bill was signed. “For months, we worked with law enforcement, public health experts, Democrats and Republicans to craft this law, and it’s a major step forward toward savingThelives.”billdominated legislator and media attention during the General Assembly’s 2022 session, as everyone agreed something had to be done about the fentanyl crisis but couldn’t agree on much beyond that. In total, 75 amendments to the bill were formally proposed, and one of the primary sponsors withdrew his support


During a Senate floor discussion, Pettersen said Colorado has the second-worst access to opioid addiction treatment in the country, with more than 450 people in the state on waitlists for inpatient care.


Once a prosecutor in the Denver District Attorney’s Office, Lori Darnel, J.D., is the top legal expert in the Social Work Department at MSU Denver.

50x STRONGER THAN HEROIN FENTANYL 4.9 DEATHS PER MINUTE IN THE U.S. SOURCE: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, 2021 202020192016201520172018 41 839 49 863 81 931 102 872 222 850 540 937 Colorado Overdose Deaths Fentanyl All other drugs SOURCE: COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT

FALL 2022 | RED MAGAZINE 11 of the bill on the last day of the session. Proponents wrestled with pressure from all sides, as the governor, attorney general and law enforcement officials advocated for felonizing any amount of fentanyl possession while behavioral health experts pushed back against stifferForpenalties.Sen.Brittany

Pettersen, an MSU Denver alumna and one of the bill sponsors, the legislation was personal. Pettersen has spoken publicly many times about her mother’s decadeslong addiction struggles, which began with an overreliance on prescription painkillers after an injury.

“We are in the third wave of the opioid epidemic and in the worst overdose crisis in the history of this country,” Pettersen said in a statement. “Fentanyl is the drug of choice for the cartels because it’s potent, cheap and easy to traffic. We need to go after the dealers who are poisoning our communities and provide training and resources to better equip law enforcement to investigate fentanyl poisonings while increasing access to desperately needed treatment and lifesaving harmreduction tools.” LAW

Shawn Brndiar is one of the lucky ones — someone who went down the path of addiction as a young adult and managed to find his way out. Brndiar began experimenting with drugs in his 20s as he coped with childhood trauma, struggled with his sexuality and felt pressure to find a lucrative profession. He became addicted to methamphetamine and used it progressively more for seven years, until a life-threatening event prompted him to take a different direction.

HELP ON THE WAY At MSU Denver, faculty members are preparing students to understand issues such as the drug epidemic from many angles. Brndiar said he got a great clinical education from his Human Services degree and a systems-level education from his Master of Social Work, which he calls “the MBA for mental health care” because of its versatility. He has also heard great things about the University’s recently launched Addictions Counseling graduate program.

All of the MSW courses Darnel oversees are taught by lawyers, giving students experience interacting with professionals in the field of law. Students learn the nuances of the language used by attorneys, a valuable tool as more professional social workers are called on to work with the legal system.

State Rep. Leslie Herod, second from left, joined MSU Denver faculty members and alumni for a panel discussion on the state’s fentanyl crisis in March.

“The criminal justice system is overrepresentative of many marginalized communities,” she said. “So how do we stop using the system as the last resort for people who really need other kinds of help?”



Brndiar was shot by a Lakewood police officer in 2008 in an altercation that landed him in jail for five months. After he was released, he completed a drug treatment program and has been sober ever since. At age 32, Brndiar was newly clean and unsure of what to do with his life. He had attempted prelaw, premed and business programs at three colleges by then, so he enrolled in a variety of summer courses at MSU Denver, where a Human Services professor helped him “fall in love with the idea of being a helper,” he said. Within five years, Brndiar earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Services and a Master of Social Work from the University. Today, he is a licensed clinical social worker and licensed addictions counselor with his own counseling practice, Salient Counseling, in Centennial. He’s also back at MSU Denver teaching courses as an affiliate faculty member. Informed by his experience and daily work with substance abusers, Brndiar doesn’t believe that law enforcement intervention is the ideal answer for helping addicts. “I get that this is a highly emotional issue, and absolutely, something needs to be done,” he said. “But we’re going backward when we’re talking about increasing penalties because we always know Black and brown people are going to be affected at a level that far surpasses those who have any means of privilege. “We need people to have access to quality treatment, and not just for 30 days but for a continuum of care over a year. For every dollar we spend doing that, we save so much more in incarceration.”


According to the CDC, prescription drug abuse started the first wave of opioid overdose deaths in 1999. A second wave began with a rise in heroin overdoses in 2010. At the end of the second wave, before fentanyl was as pervasive, white men had the highest age-adjusted overdose death rate of any race and gender combination. The death rate was 26.2 per 100,000 people, a figure that includes overdoses from any type of drug. It wasn’t until 2016 that overdose deaths from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl surpassed other opioid overdose deaths. In this third wave, overdose death rates for every demographic group have grown drastically, but Black men now have the highest age-adjusted death rate from all overdoses at 54.1 per 100,000 people.

Darnel lauds the harm-reduction components of HB 22-1326 but warns that the felony penalties for possession could make it much harder for people to stay clean long-term when their criminal history becomes a barrier to getting a job, finding housing or accessing public benefits.

The assistant professor teaches master’s courses on legal issues, policy and leadership, and she organizes trips to the state Capitol so students are attuned to the macro-level discussions influencing their professional field.

Darnel is skeptical that increased penalties for drug possession will solve the fentanyl epidemic. Instead, she advocates for public health intervention for those in crisis and using drugs, such as the highly successful Support Team Assisted Response Program in Denver. The program dispatches mental health clinicians and paramedics or EMTs to certain 911 calls in lieu of law enforcement.“Whenwe were first concerned about all the deaths from opioids, we really looked at it as a public health situation instead of criminal justice because the communities that were so highly impacted were a lot of white communities and not the communities of color that we stereotypically think of as impacted by drugs,” she said.

“It’s always hard to legislate in a way that effectively impacts what you are trying to accomplish,” she said. “You could end up with a law being so broad that you’re sweeping up people that you don’t intend to or so narrow that you’re not making the impact that you want to make.”

The mezzo perspective includes psychoeducation for community members, such as a March panel featuring state Rep. Leslie Herod and faculty members and alumni working in behavioral health. For the macro viewpoint, students learn more about policy and legal issues. Greathouse said it’s critical that people see the big picture of fentanyl use and know it’s not limited to a single demographic. “The most important thing is for people to really understand there is no face to fentanyl,” Greathouse said. “One of the most dangerous myths that individuals can believe is, ‘This couldn’t be my kid,’ or, ‘This couldn’t be my mother or father.’ It’s everywhere.”

Fajardo said Perez was a prime example of what a person can do when someone believes in them. She recalled how he often worked nights and weekends for her program and even continued volunteering during a semester when he withdrew from classes to better support his family. He took on one of Journey Through Our Heritage’s most challenging assignments, mentoring students at an alternative school for teenagers who were court-ordered to attend. Students naturally gravitated toward him because he could relate to them.

“You can’t assume that because someone is using fentanyl that they don’t count,” Fajardo said. “You have people dying, like Eric, who had a burning desire to give back. “If he had lived long enough, he would have made a huge difference in so many people’s lives.”


MSU Denver’s Fajardo, the Journey Through Our Heritage coordinator, called her former student’s death a wakeup call for those who judge people struggling with substance use.

On the micro level, students participate in field courses infused with addictions curriculum and get hands-on experience through internships at Denver Health and other community partners.

Perez’s story is evidence of that.

Assistant Professor Tanya Greathouse, Ph.D., said the Social Work Department provides micro, mezzo and macro initiatives to engage students on the fentanyl crisis and other societal issues.

“We need people to have access to treatment,qualityandnotjustfor30daysbutforacontinuumofcareoverayear.”




BY Cory Phare PHOTOS BY Amanda Schwengel Ines Calvete Barrios (left) and Thalia Rodriguez (right) prepare healthy arepas as part of their cooking program for Latinx communities.


The recent Health Care Management graduates from Metropolitan State University of Denver are spreading the word in their communities about the benefits of nutritious food.

Many staple dishes in Latinx cuisine can be high in carbohydrates, sodium and saturated fats, Rodriguez said. Substitutions such as cauliflower for taco meat in vegan enchiladas can be an easy switch — especially with the program’s ingredient boxes for home-based preparation.

“This (experience) has really changed the way I look at food,” Rodriguez said. “It feels good knowing what I am putting in my body.”

As part of the program’s launch, the then-students consulted with Department of Nutrition Chair Rachel Sinley, Ph.D., to incorporate recipes such as black-bean flautas with avocado dipping sauce that exclude processed ingredients without sacrificing the “yum” factor.

Ines Calvete Barrios and Thalia Rodriguez are evangelists for healthy eating.

This summer, the duo launched Salud! En Nuestra Comunidad, a series of cooking classes focused on creating traditional Latinx recipes with healthy substitutes — for example, a vegan nacho cheese made from cashews and turmeric. The great food also comes with a side of conversation about resources for community wellness.


Calvete Barrios echoed the importance of diet and access for whole-person care. Originally from Colombia, she faced challenges navigating the U.S. health care system as a previously undocumented immigrant. Despite her familial history of different cancers, screening panels were limited or unavailable to her, which is why the “food as medicine” concept learned in a lifestyle medicine class at MSU Denver resonated with her. “There are lots of things I can’t control, so I’m focused on the things I can,” Calvete Barrios said. “From cardiovascular health to cancer prevention, small changes can make a big difference.”

“Using whole-food ingredients, we can mimic the flavor profiles that light up our brains,” Sinley said. We’re naturally wired to crave fats, salt and sweets, she added. And as we habituate our eating practices over time, tolerances can emerge. In other words, our brains eventually require us to consume more of those items to trigger our pleasure centers. “We shouldn’t deprive ourselves of what we enjoy,” Sinley said. “But when we’re armed with information on what eating healthfully means to us individually and within context, we’re able to find the right balance that honors the whole person within our communities.”

For her, changes include following a plant-based Mediterranean diet and cutting back substantially on meat intake, along with culturally informed recipe substitutions.

“In our household, food is a staple of family life,” Calvete Barrios said. “We’re making it together, sitting around the table, eating together, all while talking about our day. And talking about health care access can be daunting. But something we all love is food, so we wanted to foster a space to be able to discuss both.”

The graduates came up with the idea for the program in their Reimagine Wellness class, offered through MSU Denver’s Health Institute. The course culminated in a pitch competition, where Calvete Barrios and Rodriguez’s concept took third place and netted them $8,000 in seed funding. Partners in their program include Aurora-based La Victoria Healing Kitchen as well as the University’s Food Pantry and Immigrant Services Program.

Shannon Worthman, director of education at the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and a 2018 graduate of MSU Denver’s Integrative Health Care program, said “food as medicine” is defined as a therapeutic method in which food and nutrition are used in the prevention and treatment of chronic noncommunicable disease. For the treatment, reversal and prevention of lifestyle-related chronic disease, Worthman recommends an eating plan based predominantly on a variety of minimally processed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

“We eat a lot of calorie-rich, nutrient-poor foods in the United States,” Tollefson said. “This leads to an overabundance of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancers — 20% to 60% of (cancers are) believed to be diet-related.”Tollefson and her colleagues at the Harvard Institute for Lifestyle Medicine and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine are leading the charge to change behaviors and habits. The field of lifestyle medicine, which has grown exponentially in recent years, offers a promising road map for health in its six pillars: a nutrientdense, minimally processed, plant-rich eating pattern; physical activity; restorative sleep; stress management; avoidance of risky substances; and positive social connections. These recommendations combine evidencebased preventive care with behavioral and culturally rooted whole-person care to significantly shift health outcomes.Andthough all elements of lifestyle medicine are intertwined, Tollefson said that if an individual could change only one, nutrition would be the top priority.

Scaling up systemic solutions is exactly what Roadrunners in the University’s Health Institute are poised to do. With the first lifestyle medicine undergraduate program in the country, MSU Denver is uniquely positioned to augment the traditional preparatory pathway into multiple in-demand health careers such as nursing, medicine, pharmacology, radiology and more, Tollefson said. And whether it’s preparing the next generation of health care professionals or simply making lunch, the recipe reads the same: Better ingredients make for better health.


C alvete Barrios and Rodriguez, who were Health Institute Health Scholar Program scholarship recipients, are doing exactly that with Salud! En Nuestra Comunidad. For Rodriguez, celebrating food and community is a key ingredient to sustaining and growing the project, something she hopes to continue doing beyond her graduation this past May.

Tollefson said part of the challenge is reframing our relationships with food relative to three big factors — taste, convenience and cost — in a way that makes sense for individual families, many of whom already face stigmatization and access hurdles navigating the complexities of the U.S. health care system.

Michelle Tollefson, M.D., professor of Health Professions at MSU Denver, is excited that Roadrunners are doing transformative work in the field and on the ground. Because better nutrition can, in fact, save lives.

Health Care Management alumna Thalia Rodriguez

Calvete Barrios, who received the 2022 President’s Award for student achievement at the same spring Commencement, plans to use what she’s learned for her next chapter: taking the MCAT and applying to medical school.

“I’ve been able to incorporate a lot of these concepts into my own life and change it for the better,” Calvete Barrios said. “Now, the question is: ‘How can we use this knowledge to create a positive impact on an even larger scale?’”


The future of

18 RED MAGAZINE | FALL 2022 With the media facing myriad challenges, MSU Denver’s Journalism program is adapting to prepare students for a new reality. BY DALIAH SINGER

For two years, Lauterbach served as editor, writer, publisher, graphic designer and accountant for the site before running into a familiar problem among media outlets today: lack of funding.

“We need more independent media that isn’t beholden to investors and sponsors, but we need more ways for those to succeed as well,” she said. “I’m just not seeing that in the Inindustry.”July,she was forced to suspend site operations.

VERSATILITY IS KEY Contemporary journalists need to be multifaceted creators, able to conduct interviews, take photos, capture audio and share it all on social media.

The Pew Research Center reports that U.S. newsroom employment plunged 26% between 2008 and 2020. And per the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, nearly 100 news outlets have closed since March 2020. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Digital-native newsroom employment is up, according to Pew, and outlets are experimenting with creative subscription models and storytelling formats. To support the next generation of storytellers and help them navigate the pitfalls of this new era, journalism programs such as MSU Denver’s are evolving to better prepare students to overcome unprecedented challenges.

Lauterbach graduated into an industry in flux. In the 21st century, legacy media outlets are forced to compete with newsletters, podcasts, social media and even Netflix for readers, subscribers and money. Journalists face layoffs, closures, burnout and the rise of disinformation and distrust in the media — all of which were hurting the industry well before the pandemic made business even more challenging. Recent timescareertolearnedstorytellingbelow,MadisongraduateLauterbach,isleveragingtheskillssheatMSUDenvernavigateamediaamidturbulentintheindustry.


“One of the things that was really valuable to me (is that) I was taught how to write a variety of different styles, which is really important,” said Lauterbach, who is freelancing while she decides on her next project. “Whether journalism transitions to online-only or print does somehow survive, you need to know how to write a story.” adison Lauterbach doesn’t always have a plan, but there are two things she figured out quickly: She decided she wanted to be a journalist when she was a tween listening to National Public Radio during her daily commute to school. And before she graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2019 with her degree in Journalism, she already had the idea for what would become Ms. Mayhem, an online outlet focusing on the stories of female-identifying and nonbinary people.




25% “I wanted to dip my toes in a different side of the journalism industry,” she said. “I wanted to try to see what it was like working on the other side — dealing with the media instead of being part of the Martinmedia.”learned a lot from the experience, she said, including that she would rather “be the one asking questions.”

While foundational classes, including the ethics of journalism, aren’t going anywhere, in recent years MSU Denver has added courses in photojournalism, data visualization, social documentary (where students visit another city to capture stories) and even drone journalism. Solutions journalism, civil discourse and social media are being infused throughout the curriculum.

Steve Krizman, associate professor of Journalism and Public Relations at MSU Denver, wants to train students to tell stories in whatever industries intrigue them, whether that’s covering fashion or sports for niche publications, through YouTube videos or on a corporate communications team. Students are encouraged to take classes in public relations or technical writing, as well as subject-specific courses, such as Geology, for someone interested in covering climate change. “It’s a little more like three-dimensional chess,” Krizman said. “The term we talk about is ‘atomize content.’” That phrase means understanding various audiences and how you can share or tell a story on different platforms. Sara Martin is heading into her junior year in the Journalism program. She’s editor-in-chief of The Metropolitan, the University’s student newspaper, but in the spring she worked as a media relations intern for the Colorado Avalanche. Coursework at MSU Denver now incorporates social media, dataphotojournalism,travel,visualizationanddronejournalism.

(Industry-specific data is sparse, but in 2019, more than one-third of the labor force in the U.S. did freelance work, according to the FreelancersProfessorsUnion.)alsoencourage students to seek out freelance experience while in school, Martin said, to get a jump-start on networking and buildingAffiliaterelationships.facultymembers are also crucial because they bring the current moment of journalism into the classroom — there are about a dozen in MSU Denver’s Journalism Department alone. Last summer, some were calling in to online sessions from parking lots near wildfires they were “Studentscovering.wereable to see what that was like,” Jennings said, “and what the challenges were like.”

One of the chief concerns among journalists today is a broken business model that’s hurting journalists’ salaries and making the news inaccessible to many as a result of paywalls. How can journalism schools prepare students for this newKrizmanreality? recognizes that entrepreneurship is a growing part of the business. It’s “becoming more and more of a gig economy even in journalism,” he said. “One thing I’ve been doing, not (only in classes) but in the advising of students, is trying to help them judge for themselves, if they have to go into this industry as entrepreneurs, are they equipped for that? What do they need to know and do to be ready for that?”



Perhaps the biggest challenge journalism schools face is keeping up with an industry that’s evolving by the day thanks to updated technology and Journalism student Sara Martin is editor-in-chief of MSU Denver’s student newspaper, The Metropolitan.

Students are also provided kits that “will turn a cellphone into a production center,” including a tripod, light kit and microphone, said Chris Jennings, chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Production.

Adaptability was among the most important skills Yoselin Meza Miranda learned. The 2021 graduate majored in Broadcast Journalism, and her first industry job is working as a host and reporter for KUNC 91.5 (NPR for northern Colorado), a radio station based in Greeley. At MSU Denver, Meza Miranda was introduced to the ins and outs of working in front of and behind the camera. She also honed her ability to write for different media formats. All of those skill sets have been vital in her transition to audio journalism. “(MSU Denver) taught me a lot, like how to use my voice, which is what I’m doing now,” she said.

tenacity, problem-solving and basic journalism skills, such as tracking down sources or pivoting when a story isn’t panning out, in the classroom and through Met Media, MSU Denver students become nimble and able to adjust as new job expectations arise.

Current students and alumni credit Met Media — the University’s student-run media outlets — with teaching them what it’s truly like to practice journalism. “We were allowed to explore different writing styles if we wanted,” Lauterbach said. “We could write features, news, editorials, sports, whatever we wanted to do. There was a lot of room for experimentation and finding out which niche we wanted to fit in. It was invaluable.”Bylearning

“What we try to get them to understand is that the core principles of storytelling are the things they need to know,” he added. “When new technology comes around, how do you shift … while still understanding your audience, still understanding how an audience is engaged with storytelling, and also how are you doing it in a fair and ethical way?”


MSU Denver Journalism students Reanna Media, center, Tiffani Hernandez, left, and Sara Martin work in the Auraria Media Center studio.

FALL 2022 | RED MAGAZINE 21 consumer preferences. “So much about journalism has changed even since I graduated three years ago,” Lauterbach said. To that end, MSU Denver professors are focused on helping students develop a “working knowledge” of various technology and media types, Krizman said, so they can apply those skills in the real world.

“Getting in that attitude of resilience, of being able to roll with the punches, that is something that doesn’t show up in a final exam but is exactly the kind of skill set they’re going to need,” Krizman said.

“So Ijournalismaboutmuchhaschangedevensincegraduatedthreeyearsago.”





Watson admits she has always been an overachiever. Her typical day starts around 6 a.m., juggling classes, studying, socializing and running a part-time tutoring business. Bedtime ranges from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Watson’s time-management tools include lists and detailed schedules.Theplan to get ahead on her education actually started with a step back. A gymnast from early in life, she suffered an injury just before high school. Unable to compete any longer, she wanted to do something meaningful with her time.

In May, the 17-year-old earned her high school diploma from Colorado Early Colleges Inverness — and a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Metropolitan State University of Denver. The Littleton native became one of the youngest graduates in the University’s history.

The then-13-year-old remembered reading an article about a girl who finished her bachelor’s degree early, and she began to investigate options. After some testing, Watson was greenlit to take math and English courses at Arapahoe Community College near her home.

Watson finished college with a 3.25 GPA while also excelling as an outside hitter on the MSU Denver women’s volleyball club team. Up next for the wunderkind? “I was going to go to grad school,” she said, “but my parents said I needed a break.” That “break” includes growing her tutoring business to a full-time endeavor, then spending six months doing missionary work abroad. She ultimately envisions herself in the computer science field.


“It feels like the hard work I’ve put in the last few years has paid off, and I’m extremely relieved to be done,” she said.

It’s like someone hit the fast-forward button on Anna Jane Watson.

Last spring, at age 16, she transferred her college credits to MSU Denver through the University’s College Credit in High School program. The program, which has served over 5,100 high school students since its inception in 2014, allows students to save money and time by getting a jump-start on college.


“We were building scale models, examining ergonomics and conducting competitive research,” he said. “I remember asking, ‘Why is it this color? Why is it the shape it is?’ “That’s when it all clicked. … It’s all part of the process of becoming a better designer.”

Part of the secret sauce, he noted, is a full-suite approach that incorporates market considerations, research and distribution, along with rapid prototyping. Link founder Marc Hanchak prioritizes a “fail early, fail often” approach, a philosophy reflected even in the office’s physical layout.

Those were the evocative elements that industrial designer Schuyler Livingston and the team at Link Product Development prioritized as they designed the OneClock, a sleek analog timepiece that’s raised nearly $2 million in crowdfunding campaigns.

Old car dashboards. Incandescent lamps. Warm, soft light.


Link also recognizes the symbiotic role that applied education plays in training the next generation of designers. The company regularly hosts MSU Denver interns, providing career-building opportunities for students and nurturing potential future employees. Livingston has also served as an affiliate faculty member at the University, while he and Hanchak continue to guest-lecture there as subject-matter experts.



“Link approaches design differently,” he said. “It’s a small team with resources to huddle around clients and figure out the right approach to what they’re really trying to accomplish.”

“Fabrication and prototyping are an integral part of a project’s success,” Livingston said. “You’re able to hop in the shop right next to us and test your ideas quickly to see which solutions work.”

The OneClock is one of more than 60 projects Livingston has worked on over the past six years at the Denver product development company. And whether it’s wheelchairs or mountain bikes, the key, Livingston said, is getting in the mindset of the end user.


“It’s emotion; it’s nostalgia. That’s the experience you want with this product,” said the 2016 Metropolitan State University of Denver Industrial Design graduate.

Fittingly, it was a chair — specifically, a bent wooden lounge in his Advanced Furniture Design class — that helped Livingston find a seat at the product design table.



When tragedy shook her Highlands Ranch community, Nikki Brooker found her calling. The mother of three had taken a role as a substitute teacher at Bear Canyon Elementary, her youngest son’s school, in 2016. In late November that year, the principal phoned to ask if Brooker could come in the following day to help support students and teachers. One of the school’s kindergartners, 5-year-old Ethan Laber, and his 3-year-old brother Adam had been killed by their mother, who also killedAmongherself.Brooker’s memories from that day was a sixth-grade boy sobbing in the hallway. He had been Ethan’s reading buddy. “As we walked to the counseling center, he stopped and looked me in the eye,” she recounted. “He said, ‘How do I know my mom’s not going to kill me tonight?’ How do you answer that?”

Tragedy struck the community again in January 2017 when 10-year-old Emma Benavides, a fifth-grader at Northridge Elementary School, was also killed by her mother. Desperate for a solution, Brooker began doing research, which led her to learn about postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. She started talking with other mothers about how they could make a difference.InApril2017, she founded YANAM2M (You Are Not Alone — Mom 2 Mom), a nonprofit dedicated to helping moms feel safe, accepted and valued. Among many services offered is the option to be paired with a support person. “It is so important for moms to have a nonjudgmental person they can turn to,” Brooker said, “someone who can say, ‘I’ve been there. I’ve locked myself in the bathroom and cried too.’”

YANAM2M held its Strong Mama Gala this past December, raising over $19,000 to expand services to local hospitals. Once funded, its Strong Mamas, Thriving Babies program will offer new moms a support system to head off postpartum depression, including regular check-ins and an app for connecting with other moms.

Brooker, a 1998 Behavioral Science graduate of Metropolitan State University of Denver, is optimistic about YANAM2M, which is now 5 years old. “It’s been a great program. We’ve done amazing things,” she said. “And it was the soul-fulfilling endeavor I was looking for, too.”



1979 In 2021, FRANK MULLEN (B.A. Journalism, ’79) was inducted into the Nevada Press Association Journalism Hall of Fame and named the Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer for 2021 by the University of Nevada, Reno, and nonprofit Nevada Humanities. Mullen retired from the Reno Gazette-Journal in 2013 after 25


From Denver to Doha ALUMNUS RASHID ALMANSOORI TRANSFORMED HIS DEGREE INTO AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS SUCCESS STORY. By Mark Cox him with an honorary Master of Professional Accountancy degree. “I have so many fond memories of (MSU Denver),” Almansoori said. “I can still clearly recall the campus grounds, the diverse student life and the snowfall. “But most of all, I remember all the great people who helped broaden my horizons and contributed to my amazing journey.”

2001 Following a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, JAMES BALUTOWSKI (B.S. Aviation Management, ’01) graduated from MSU Denver and became a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy. For nearly 15 years, he worked in detentions, court security and patrol, and as an Explorer advisor. In 2007, Balutowski was commissioned “It was a game-changer,” he said. “The highquality education, along with the helpful and knowledgeable professors, really helped me focus and nurture my chosen career path.”

Taking stock of Rashid Almansoori’s business career, you notice one persistent trend: success.Until recently, he was CEO of the Qatar Stock Exchange during a period when it saw unprecedented growth. He also sat on the board of the World Federation of Exchanges, the Qatar Financial Center Board and the Financial Market Development Committee. And he has a string of high-profile leadership roles under his belt, including for his country’s Olympic Committee, Ministry of Interior and Investment Authority. His remarkable business journey began at Metropolitan State University of Denver during the mid-1980s. He knew from an early age that he wanted an international education and worked diligently to earn a government higher education sponsorship that brought him from Qatar to Denver. The 1987 Computer and Management Sciences graduate said his MSU Denver education laid solid foundations for his career.


Returning to Qatar in the late ’80s, he was determined to put his new knowledge to use by instilling an information technology culture in the nation. At his first job, with Qatar Petroleum, Almansoori quickly made an impression by transforming the working environment from a manual system to an IT-based one. Over the next few years, he brought his magic touch to several more companies.Thatupward career path ultimately led to the Qatar Stock Exchange. Under Almansoori’s leadership from 2011 to 2021, the QSE emerged as a leading regional stock market and helped fuel the country’s economic rise. Qatar was upgraded from frontier market to emerging-market status in 2014.


years but came out of retirement in 2020 to revive the Reno News and Review, an alternative weekly newspaper covering Reno, Sparks and northern Nevada.

In recognition of his success, the College of Business at MSU Denver recently presented

1993 BEVERLY SCHLAGER (B.A. Sociology, ’93) has worked in a variety of fields since graduating, including health care, customer service, sales and education. She has served as an elementary school teacher and a K-12 substitute and also has been a business owner — all while raising four sons who went on to earn college degrees. Schlager said she has lived an eclectic life and wouldn’t have it any other way.

MSU Denver also launched a crowdfunding campaign that enables brewers, craft beer lovers, homebrewers and industry professionals to help fund the lab.

2002 NATHAN WHITNEY (B.S. Hospitality, Meeting and Travel Administration, ’02) is now a “snowbird,” living half the year in South Florida and the other half back home in Colorado. Whitney recently added a Colorado real estate license with LoKation Real Estate to further his reach in assisting the public with residential and commercial real estate needs.

FALL 2022 | RED MAGAZINE 29 as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve. He commanded the 308th Military Police Company in Fort Carson, deploying it to Afghanistan in 2011, and in 2013 he went on active reserve status as a captain. Balutowski is chief of operations for the 200th Military Police Command at Fort Meade.

Metropolitan State University of Denver will soon begin construction of the Charlie Papazian Brewing Education Lab, named in honor of the retired founder of the American Homebrewers Association, the Great American Beer Festival and the Brewers Association, all based in Boulder.


“I’ve been a teacher and educator my entire adult life,” Papazian said, “from teaching preschool through fourth grade and showing adults how to homebrew to launching the American Homebrewers Association and the Brewers Association. The original mission of those two organizations was educational: to make beer knowledge accessible to all. So the lab continues the flow of my life’s work, and it’s very fitting and exciting for me.”

to students in MSU Denver’s Brewery Operations Program.“Now, students will learn to brew on a true commercial-scale brewery, so they will be much better prepared for a brewery job,” said Bernardo Alatorre, lecturer and interim director of the Brewery Operations Program. Alatorre said students will gain skills in all facets of brewing, from procuring ingredients and creating recipes to yeast management, fermentation control and clean-in-place procedures. Construction on the nearly 1,500-square-foot lab is scheduled for completion in 2023. MSU Denver’s Brewery Operations Program, part of the University’s School of Hospitality, has served hundreds of students since its founding in 2015.

2017 After earning his degree, MICHAEL FORESMAN (B.S. Biology, ’17) went to work for Leiters, a pharmaceutical 503B compounding company, as a contractor with Aerotek. In less than a year, he was hired full time and promoted to pharmaceutical formulation lead. Foresman is bulk formulation supervisor, tasked with overseeing all operations and creating his department. He said he is super-grateful for his experience at MSU Denver.

Those who contribute will receive gifts, including glassware, T-shirts or signed copies of Papazian’s industry-changing book “Complete Joy of Homebrewing,” depending on their level of support.

Alumni updates and resources:

Being built into a space on the ground floor of MSU Denver’s Hospitality Learning Center, the new facility will feature a 3½-barrel commercial brewing system. It will provide real-world experience

To fund the approximately $1 million project, MSU Denver raised more than $425,000 from nearly 20 industry leaders who wanted to pay tribute to Papazian’s massive contributions as the “Johnny Appleseed” of homebrewing.

New project honors Colorado craft beer pioneer



Beer lovers nationwide are paying tribute to the father of craft beer by helping to fund a new laboratory that will prepare future professionals for careers in an expansive industry.

Support the Charlie Papazian Brewing Education Lab Fund


KATHLEEN LUTTENEGGER, Ph.D., professor of Elementary Education and Literacy, died April 22 at age 51. Luttenegger joined MSU Denver as a School of Education faculty member in 2003. Throughout her 19-year career with the University, she supported hundreds of students in and outside the classroom on their journeys to becoming teachers. Dedicated to the field, school and students she loved, Luttenegger taught online courses when she could no longer teach in person. A beloved mother, teacher, colleague and friend, she will be dearly missed.

ALAIN RANWEZ, Ph.D., professor emeritus of French, died April 20 at age 77. Ranwez was born during World War II in German-occupied Paris, and his family moved to Canada and Maine before settling in Kearney, New Jersey. Following high school, he attended Montclair State College and earned his doctorate at the University of Missouri. Ranwez moved his family to Denver in 1972 and started teaching at then-Metropolitan State College, where he taught French for the next 41 years, retiring in 2013. A lifelong educator, Ranwez also drew, painted, cheered for the Broncos and loved to cook, travel and host summer cookouts. Alumni DAVID BOGEN (B.S. Health Care Management, ’01) died Feb. 19 at age 65. He was a U.S. Air Force veteran and longtime professional in the hospitality industry, an emergency medical technician for 20 years and spent the past three decades officiating youth sports. He served his community by working with the Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy, a cause close to his heart. In addition to his MSU Denver Faculty & Staff

30 RED MAGAZINE | FALL 2022 humor and lovingkindness will be sorely missed.

ELEANOR DWIGHT (B.A. Urban Studies, ’85) died Feb. 2 at age 84. Dwight enrolled at MSU Denver when she was 46 years old, kindling her interest in international relations and urban studies. That passion led to her serving on the Littleton City Planning Commission and City Council. She also worked as a public affairs specialist for the Environmental Protection Agency in Denver until her retirement. Throughout her life, Dwight was an activist who used her voice for justice and to improve the quality of life for those in her community and around the world.

ERIC PEREZ (Criminal Justice and Criminology, ’21) died April 24 at age 26. While attending MSU Denver, Perez spent six years working with the Journey Through Our Heritage program as a youth mentor and community leader, eventually becoming president, and shared his passion for life and learning with hundreds of students. He was also an intern at History Colorado and Conservation Colorado. Perez’s family said he had an uncanny ability to find happiness in daily activities and loved spending time with his friends, family and dog, Jojo.

PATRICK HEYE (B.S. Aviation Management, ’83) died Jan. 24 at age 65. Heye was born and raised in Denver. After graduating from high school in 1975, he joined the Marine Corps, receiving two Good Conduct Medals and a Sharpshooter Rifle Marksmanship Badge for his service. Upon returning home, he put himself through college by driving a school bus for Jefferson County and met his wife, Pamela, when working for the Regional Transportation District. Heye was a loving husband and father who enjoyed camping and traveling and fulfilled his goal of seeing all 50 states. He will be missed.

MARK SCHULTZ (B.S. Computer and Management Science, ’76) died Feb. 16 at age 67. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Schultz worked as an information andridinghobbiesanin2022.Scoutsofdecoratedof2013.from1978-89Communityprogrammer/analysttechnologyatArapahoeCollegefromandatMSU Denver1989untilretiringinJulyPassionateaboutbeingservicetoothers,hewasaandactivemembertheDenverAreaCouncil,BoyofAmerica,from1985-Schultzwasalsoinvolvedhischurch,whereheservedasusherforover30years.Hisincludedchasingandtrains,weatherwatchingfollowingColoradosports.

RICHARD NETZEL, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Physics, died March 13 at age 93. After earning a doctorate in Physics from the University of WisconsinMadison, Netzel taught at UW-Oshkosh, worked in college administration at the University of Oregon and worked for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, developing elementary school science curricula. In 1972, he moved to Denver to become vice president of Academic Affairs at MSU Denver. Netzel served as acting University president in 1977 and returned to the classroom to teach at the end of his career. His family described him as a brilliant, witty, intellectually curious man whose degree, Bogen earned a B.S. in Political Science from Stockton State College.

“My mother used to say, ‘You owe something to someone for your existence.’ I think she had a point,” Tanner told RED in 2018. “Growing up in the South, where there were ‘colored’ water fountains, there were bathrooms you couldn’t go to, and seeing all the nonsense things that were going on at that time, I think it made me want to try to make a difference.”


Born and raised in Atlanta, Tanner grew up in a neighborhood of activists, including her mother, which inspired her to make a difference in the community.

“It is our honor to celebrate her memory by supporting students who want to follow in her footsteps as dedicated leaders in their communities.”



Gloria Travis Tanner, the first Black woman to serve as a Colorado state senator, died April 6 at age 86.


After high school, she served for three years in the U.S. Air Force and met her husband, whose military career brought their family to Denver. When their third child started grade school, Tanner enrolled at then-Metropolitan State College, earning a degree in Political Science in 1974. She followed that up with a master’s degree in Urban Affairs from the University of Colorado Denver in 1976. Known for her distinguished career in public service, Tanner worked for Lt. Gov. George Brown and state Sen. Regis Groff before Legacy of leadership serving five terms in the Colorado House of Representatives starting in 1984. From 1994-2001, she served in the Colorado Senate, where she was selected as a member of the Joint Budget Committee. During her tenure, Tanner worked to pass significant legislation, including Colorado’s safe-haven law, civil rights for women and minorities, and rights for adoptive parents.Tanner’s legacy of service will live on at MSU Denver through the Gloria Tanner Scholarship, established to support students interested in community leadership, which may include running for office. Qualified candidates must write a short essay sharing how they relate to the experience of African American women. Then, one junior or senior will be selected to receive an award of $5,000 per academic year for up to two years, beginning this fall semester. “Gloria was a trailblazer, leader and role model. We are so proud she is part of our Roadrunner family,” said Christine MárquezHudson, vice president of University Advancement and executive director of the MSU Denver Foundation. “It is our honor to celebrate her memory by supporting students who want to follow in her footsteps as dedicated leaders in their communities.”


Jim Saccomano spent 30-plus years working for the Denver Broncos, witnessing multiple Super Bowl wins and retiring as public relations vice president in 2013. This summer, Saccomano was honored as an inaugural winner of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Award of Excellence. RED caught up with the 1970 graduate of Metropolitan State University of Denver to discuss his time in college, being enshrined in Canton, Ohio, and the future of Broncos football. Your thoughts on the Broncos sale to the Walton-Penner group? It looks like a glorious era is about to be embarked on by the Broncos, with the city as a wonderful beneficiary of that. Clearly, the wealth is there to do something if they desire to do so. When the Broncos began (in 1960), there were streets that were filled with dirt and dust in Denver. And when “Monday Night Football” began (in 1970), it was heavily an East Coast thing. The Broncos were not quite a laughingstock, but they were a complete afterthought. This is not the case now. With (new quarterback) Russell Wilson, the Broncos will live on “Monday Night Football,” “Sunday Night Football” and a lot more. How did it feel to be honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame? A year ago, Steve Atwater (former Broncos star and current employee) and I went to the Hall of Fame and I ran into Dave Baker (former CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame). He said, “You’re going in, Jim. I’m sure you’ll be in this year or next year.” Then a few months later, I had a call from a friend who said, “You’re the obvious guy.” The next thing you knew, I received (word from the Hall of Fame). That’s a pretty big deal. It’s been a pretty cool deal. What made you want to come to MSU Denver? Like a lot of people in the area, financially and logistically, MSU Denver was my only option, and I’m forever grateful. The University did a (marketing campaign) a couple of years ago about transforming lives, and it transformed mine. Without it, I probably wouldn’t have gotten a college degree.

This Q&A has been edited for brevity and clarity.


This year’s City Park Jazz series kicked off June 5 with a tribute to Grammy-nominated trumpeter and cornetist Ron Miles, who died in March at age 58. Miles, musician-in-residence at Metropolitan State University of Denver until his passing, was among the greatest jazz improvisers and composers of his generation. Trumpeter Shane Endsley (pictured) led the performance of Miles’ original music. “I can’t overstate how important and influential Ron Miles was to us and so many others,” said Endsley, a fellow faculty member at MSU Denver. “He lived an inspiring life filled with artistic brilliance and endless curiosity. He was the kindest and most generous human being any of us have encountered. We will miss him forever.”

One last encore


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