Polly Baca (B.A., ’62) was the first woman of color to serve in the Colorado Senate, the first Latina to serve in state Senate leadership anywhere in the United States, and the first Latina to receive a major party nomination for the U.S. Congress. Baca also served as special assistant to a U.S. president and director of the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs.
Jenny Cavnar (B.S., ’04; B.A., ’04), pictured at left, became the first woman since 1993 to do a play-by-play on a Major League Baseball telecast. She called the Rockies v. Padres game on April 23, 2018. Cavnar has worked in MLB for 12 years, doing pre- and postgame shows, first for the Padres and now for the Rockies. Her home-run call for the Rockies, “Fire up the fountains. She’s gone!,” was a big hit.
The three founded our Alumni Association, and she made it a viable organization over the years, organizing Homecoming and many other alumni events.
Learn more about Libby in “Libby Coy-Lawrence Her Enduring Legacy,” CSU Magazine, by Nik Olson (’01)
Becky Hammon (B.S., ’00) was the first female full-time assistant coach in NBA history, first woman to coach an NBA summer league team, and first woman to coach in an NBA All-Star Game. Hammon spent 16 years in the WNBA, where she was named a top 20 player in the league’s history. As a Ram, she was a three-time All-American and set the all-time Western Athletic Conference scoring record for men or women.
Photo copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Alumna Leslie Jones transferred to CSU to play basketball, but then entered a comedy contest and was named “Funniest Person on Campus.” She left school to pursue comedy full time and joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. TIME magazine included her in its 2017 World’s 100 Most Influential People list.
Yusef Komunyakaa (M.A., ’78) is a world-renowned poet. He received a Bronze Star for his service as managing editor of the Southern Cross military newspaper during the Vietnam War. Among his many awards for poetry are the Pulitzer Prize, Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, William Faulkner Prize, Hanes Poetry Prize, and Wallace Stevens Award. Komunyakaa holds the Distinguished Senior Poet chair at New York University. In 2017, the National Portrait Gallery commissioned him to write a poem honoring American soldiers; “After the Burn Pits” is part of “The Faces of Battle” exhibition.
Kjell Lindgren (M.S., ’96) served as International Space Station flight engineer and aerospace medicine specialist. Lindgren was the first Taiwanese American in space; he also was the first to hand-brew coffee and grow and eat lettuce grown in space. He also juggled oranges and surprised a CSU professor with a phone call from 250 miles above Earth.
Lindgren is now deputy chief of the Flight Integration Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. He recently donated to the CSU Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising a CSU T-shirt and Colorado flag that he took on his space voyage.
Kelsey Martinez (B.S., ’15) is the first female assistant coach for the Oakland Raiders NFL team. Her area is strength and conditioning. A first-generation student, Martinez majored in health and exercise science. Her outlook on success? “Don’t create limits on yourself. There’s many excuses, but at the end of the day, what do you love to do?”
Ralph Parshall (B.S., 1904) joined the Colorado Agricultural College faculty and became an internationally known pioneer in civil engineering and hydrology, best known for developing a device that measures stream flow. The Parshall Flume remains in use today. It revolutionized water management by enabling enforcement of water laws and equitable distribution of water among users living in regions where water is scarce.