Green & Gold Gala
Ram Pride with a Purpose
The Green & Gold Gala is Denver's premier celebration of Colorado State University and a fundraiser for the Metro Denver Scholarship. As a gateway to graduation, the Metro Denver Scholarship allows students facing hardship in their final years at CSU to complete their degrees. Together, we’ll demonstrate our Ram Pride and commitment to CSU and its students.
Saturday, May 5, 2018
Hyatt Regency at the Colorado Convention Center
650 15th Street, Denver
- 5:30 p.m. Reception, Silent Auction, and Wine Wall
- 7 p.m. Dinner and Program featuring Colorado State University President Tony Frank and Metro Denver Scholarship recipients
Your Support Makes a Difference
By attending the Green & Gold Gala and supporting the Metro Denver Scholarship fund, you can make a direct and lasting impact on the lives of CSU students. As a gateway to graduation, the Metro Denver Scholarship allows students from Denver-area counties facing hardship in their final years at CSU to complete their degrees. Here are some of their stories.
Colorado State University junior Hunter Stafford was born in Colorado and leads an active life snowboarding, hiking and enjoying the outdoors.
“I’ve loved growing up in Colorado,” Stafford said. “The people here are wonderful, and the outdoors offer so much.”
What many people don’t know about Stafford is that he also suffers from Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, a chronic illness that leaves him dehydrated and plagued by migraines for days.
For years, the condition was in remission, until Stafford turned 19. The recurrence of CVS proved to be an immense burden on Stafford as he tried to balance his condition with his school work.
To raise money for the CVS Association, in the summer of 2015, both Stafford and his father hiked the 500-mile Colorado Trail. They raised $2,500, but just one week after the hike, Stafford suffered another setback.
Stafford, and avid snowboarder and member of the CSU Snowrider Club, suffered a broken ankle in a snowboarding accident and had to delay his plans to study abroad.
“Let’s just say it was an odd turn of events,” Stafford said.
The CSU Alumni Association Metro Denver Scholarship was one of the scholarships Stafford applied for while taking a semester off to recover.
Serving as a gateway to graduation, the Metro Denver Scholarship allows the students from the Denver Metro area facing hardship in their final years at CSU to complete their degrees.
Stafford is grateful he received the Metro Denver scholarship because it has allowed him to get back on track and pursue his dream of receiving a college education. Stafford also wishes to one day teach English abroad or work in the outdoors.
What would he tell those donating to the scholarship?
“I would tell them that often times, finances get in the way of people going to college,” he said, “but going to college can completely change your perspective of how you see life,” Stafford said. “It’s definitely helped change my perspective and the way I can impact people’s lives in the future.”
All it took was one visit to Colorado State University for junior, Anna LaForge, to fall in love with CSU. Her dream of getting a college education almost ended, though, after her mother was diagnosed with melanoma.
CSU was the only stop on LaForge’s road to higher education, but her family was forced to spend the money they were saving for her college education on her mother’s medical expenses.
“My mom (was diagnosed) with melanoma at the tail end of high school and had to have an operation,” LaForge said. “We were spending the money we were supposed to be saving.”
Although her mother’s diagnosis was a shock to her family, they still decided to find joy in their situation. LaForge fondly remembers getting her ears pierced with her mom right after her big surgery.
To help make her college dreams a reality, LaForge researched and applied for the CSU Alumni Association’s Metro Denver scholarship. The scholarship serves as a gateway to graduation for students from Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, or Jefferson county facing hardship in their final years at CSU, enabling them to complete their degrees. Along with helping her attend CSU, the scholarship provides LaForge the opportunity to work less and focus on her studies more.
“(The scholarship) made it a lot easier to pay rent and cover other basic fees, so I don’t have to work as much as other people I know.” LaForge said. “I work a 10-hour workweek, and I know some people who have to work 40 hours just to cover school.”
LaForge studies English with a language concentration and has a history minor. She writes short stories in her spare time and is in the Honors Program.
She hopes to use her language skills in the future by publishing her own fiction book. LaForge can already call herself a published writer; she just sold one of her short stories to the NoSleep podcast, a podcast focusing on horror fiction.
“In the future, I want to write and publish my own books,” LaForge said. “I’m open to writing anything. I like to write general fiction, some young adult.”
Her future looks bright as her time at CSU comes to a close, but she may not be done just yet. She loves to read and write, which makes going to graduate school for library sciences right up her alley.
“I might go to grad school for library sciences to become a librarian,” LaForge said. “I volunteered at a library in high school and really enjoyed it. It was a great community.”
LaForge is grateful for the Metro Denver scholarship because it gave her the opportunity to continue her higher education. Paying for a college education can be stressful for many college students and their families, and thanks to generous donations from CSU alumni and others, LaForge and many other students are able to focus on their studies instead of worrying about affording school.
“It may not be totally obvious to (alumni) how much their donation helps, but it really takes the weight off of my shoulders and my parents’ shoulders,” LaForge said. “It’s made college less stressful and more enjoyable with not having to worry about money.”
Brendan Thammarath (’16) is blazing a trail of many firsts for his family.
The son of hardworking Mexican immigrants, he’s the first generation born in the United States. He’s the first in his family to go to college. He’s the first to study abroad in places like England and Ecuador. And if all goes as planned, Thammarath will be the first in his family to earn a college degree – with honors, no less, and his sights set on medical school.
Thammarath is also the first to admit that life has not been easy.
As a child he grew up in a crowded two-room duplex, sharing bedroom space with his mother in a converted garage. Shortly after he started junior high, his mother moved back to Mexico and he moved in with his grandmother. During his mother’s four-year absence, Thammarath navigated through adolescence the best he could and admits, “… the most difficult thing I experienced was assimilating into a culture distinct from my family’s.” Like many first-generation Americans, Thammarath was caught in the middle between U.S. and Hispanic cultural norms and conflicting loyalties. He wasn’t sure where he belonged.
Thammarath was often reminded of his low social status, and was forced to grow up quickly. As the only fluent English speaker at home, he remembers how it felt to ask his grandmother about her income so he could fill out his own Free and Reduced Lunch application for school. He also worked odd jobs so he could pay the fees to play football – a way to fit in with his peers.
He learned to avoid and reject negative influences, like drugs and gang violence, which were all around him. “I know a lot of people, some close to me, who went down that road,” says Thammarath, who credits school and academics with giving him an outlet and a drive to succeed. He developed his own moral standards to help him follow the path he felt was right. “I made education my guide.”
Going to college was never a gamble in Thammarath’s mind. He always saw it as his ticket to a better life. He would need to take out student loans, earn scholarships, and work multiple jobs to pay for school, but he knew it would be worth the investment.
RIGHT AT HOME
CSU was a good choice for Thammarath. It’s close to his family and friends in Wheat Ridge. The campus is beautiful. And most importantly, the University offers an academically rigorous, yet more affordable, route to the caring healthcare professional he wants to become someday.
Thammarath is currently a dean’s list University Honors Program student majoring in health and exercise science. He’s a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and CSU Premedica club. He tutors CSU student athletes, as well as K-5 at-risk youth through the El Centro Student Services Triunfo program.
During summer breaks – if you can call them breaks – Thammarath works to save money for school and he volunteers for nonprofits like Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity.
The pre-med student doesn’t get involved and give back to build his résumé. He does it because it’s the right thing to do, and Thammarath insists, “It’s a great way to learn from life.”
It seems learning from life is what Thammarath does best. Itching to broaden his world view, and inspired by a summer service-learning program he admired but couldn’t afford, Thammarath and a friend planned their own no-frills independent study abroad in 2014. They bought tickets to Ecuador and shadowed a willing doctor and his staff in five rural health clinics for six weeks. The volunteer experience was profoundly life-changing for Thammarath, who says it called forth “… newfound self-reliance, courage, and robustness out of myself.” When he reflects on his time in Ecuador, he says it encourages him to breach out of his comfort zone and to be open to distant and diverse ideas.
A scholarship opportunity allowed him to participate in a more traditional study abroad in England, where he jumped at the chance to explore other European countries. “You learn a lot about yourself traveling. You get lost. You learn to trust yourself. You learn what you’re made of.”
Thammarath insists that adversity is a blessing in disguise. He’s grateful for every hardship that helped him think creatively and show compassion. Every difficult choice that strengthened his moral compass. Each mistake that taught him humility and the risks that challenged him to persevere.
A HEALING GIFT
As he thought ahead to his final year at CSU, the senior dug deep and mentally prepared himself for the hard work ahead. Because of his background, statistics say he shouldn’t be in college. But Thammarath believes in himself and the power of higher education, and our Ram Family believes in him. For Brendan Thammarath, the CSU Alumni Association’s Metro Denver Scholarship couldn’t have come at a better time. It was just what the doctor ordered.
Thanks to the scholarship, Thammarath is experiencing welcome financial relief this year. He’s able to focus more on his studies and ways to recharge, and less on working multiple back-breaking jobs to pay for tuition.
After graduation, Thammarath would like to eventually work at the new CSU Medical Center slated to open later in 2016. Working at the new facility will give him a chance to explore career options, gain valuable experience before entering medical school, and give back to the campus community that has given him so much. “CSU feels like home. It’s where I belong. I love this place.”
If Brendan Thammarath could thank a scholarship donor, what would he say?
“The Metro Denver Scholarship gives me the peace of mind to focus on my studies. It helps tremendously … more than you will ever know, and I’m so grateful. I can’t wait to give back. Thank you!”
Zoe Lanterman (’14) is no stranger to hard work.
She knew college wouldn’t be easy, especially since she was paying for it herself. But Lanterman was convinced that going to CSU and getting her degree would be well worth the extra effort.
By the time she was a junior, the business major was juggling a full load of classes, waiting tables at a restaurant, and managing promotions for KCSU. With her nose so close to the grindstone, Lanterman rarely looked up long enough to enjoy college life.
“Most of my focus was on working and paying for school, not on the school experience itself,” she recalls. Determined to take full advantage of her senior year, Lanterman applied for the Metro Denver Scholarship hoping it might offer some financial freedom.
To her grateful relief, Lanterman received the award. Without the burden of tuition weighing her down, she could breathe easier her senior year and experience more that CSU had to offer.
And experience school she did. The scholarship allowed Lanterman to study abroad in Argentina the summer before her senior year. She was able to quit her serving job so she could take a highly coveted unpaid internship with the Colorado Eagles hockey team. She grew into the director of promotions role at KCSU, volunteered at the Sustainable Living Fair, and served as a College of Business mentor for incoming freshmen.
“Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t have made those career and friendship connections,” she says. “I was able to discover myself, and find out what I like and what I’m good at.”
She credits the real-world experience gained during her senior year for landing a promotions assistant gig at Clear Channel Media, now iHeartMedia, right after she graduated in 2014 with a degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. Lanterman later moved on to become marketing coordinator at the Colorado Convention Center and a box office coordinator for the entertainment giant AEG Live.
“These job opportunities are all directly correlated to my time spent doing promotions with KCSU and the Eagles,” she says.
She also points to the Green and Gold Gala, the Metro Denver Scholarship’s biggest fundraising event, as an important experience in and of itself where she met several alumni who offered sage career advice.
Today, Lanterman is the marketing director for Soda Jerk Presents, a Denver-based music promotions company with venues in Denver and Colorado Springs. They also produce Denver’s Riot Fest music festival that attracts nearly 20,000 concert-goers each summer.
“I’m pretty happy going down the concert promotion path,” she says of her most recent career move that leverages her impressive skill set. Lanterman insists the Metro Denver Scholarship gave her the flexibility to become a well-rounded person, which made her more marketable to employers. “It helped me to be the best me.”
If Zoe Lanterman could personally thank a scholarship donor, what would she say?
“Receiving the Metro Denver Scholarship allowed me to enjoy that final year of school and be a better student. Your sacrifice allowed me to not sacrifice during the last year of my college experience. I appreciate you.”
Kimberly Worth (’14) understood the value of education at an early age.
She was raised by a hardworking single mom who held down three jobs to feed two kids and keep a roof over their heads. Worth remembers how much her mother sacrificed, without complaint, just to make ends meet.
“My mom never finished college, and she wanted more for us,” says Worth, who was taught that education creates opportunity. “It was always really important to her that I earn my degree.” Worth dreamed of becoming a teacher.
As a high school student, she visited Colorado State and fell in love with the campus. “It instantly felt like the right place for me.”
There was never a question about attending CSU. The bigger challenge was figuring out how to pay tuition. Undaunted, Worth earned several scholarships and secured a student loan her freshman year.
Although Worth’s heart was in teaching, her head convinced her that a business degree was a more practical and lucrative career choice. She soon immersed herself in College of Business classes, events, service clubs, and student organizations.
Worth joined the Mu Rho chapter of Delta Sigma Pi, a business fraternity dedicated to professional development and community outreach. She became active in the Business Diversity and Leadership Alliance, a group that promotes minority inclusion and works to eliminate social injustice. The busy business student was also a Resident Assistant (RA) at Allison Hall for two years and an RA for the Honors Residential Learning Community for one year.
The combined experiences left a lasting impression on Worth, reinforcing the importance of giving back and making a difference in the lives of others.
Worth excelled academically and was invited to apply for the Metro Denver Scholarship. “When you’re asked to apply for something, it makes it far more meaningful,” she reflects. “It was such an honor. I felt validated.”
Worth was awarded the Metro Denver Scholarship her junior year. “It made a huge difference financially,” she says. “The extra support let me focus on my studies, pursue internships, and grow as a student leader.”
In 2014, Worth earned a B.S. in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. She felt grateful beyond words for her degree, but something felt unfinished. Her calling to be a teacher was not going away. If anything, it was growing louder.
So Worth made a dramatic leap of faith that changed the course of her career – a leap made possible by the Metro Denver Scholarship.
“If I would have left CSU $20,000 in debt, I would not have pursued a graduate program in teaching,” she says. Thanks in part to the Metro Denver Scholarship, Worth’s student loan debt was minimal, making the decision to attend graduate school that much easier. One year later, she received her Master of Education and teaching license from CU-Denver.
Today, Worth teaches ninth-grade English at STEM School and Academy in Douglas County School District. “I love it,” she says with a satisfied smile. “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and the Metro Denver Scholarship helped me be true to my calling.”
Worth knows her business degree will always serve her well, and having a master’s degree dramatically improves her salary as a teacher.
To say Worth’s mom is proud of her daughter is an understatement. She always wanted a bright future for her daughter, and the Metro Denver Scholarship helped make that happen.
If Kimberly Worth could thank a scholarship donor, what would she say?
“You don’t know me, but you were willing to invest in my future. Thank you for believing in me and taking a risk. That’s a compliment I will always appreciate.”
She adds, “Now that I have my own job and salary, I realize that it takes real commitment and drive to set aside money to donate for a scholarship. There are hundreds of other things you can put that money toward. To put your faith in a student and CSU is really commendable, and it makes a difference.”
Kevin Fleming (’13, ’15) has an amazing gift: He’s an exceptionally good listener. You could call it a super power.
The Denver native wasn’t born with the ability. He patiently honed it over the years in response to dyslexia, a learning disability that affects the way Fleming processes and interprets written language. Dyslexia makes reading and writing more difficult for the double alumnus, but he doesn’t see it as the enemy. More than anything, he describes dyslexia as a good thing.
Thanks to dyslexia, Fleming has not only developed remarkable active-listening skills, he’s learned to be more patient, solution-minded, and effective at communicating. Dyslexia pushes Fleming to pay close attention to the little things in life. It inspires him to break down barriers and fight for the underdog.
Growing up, Fleming dreamed of attending college, but he knew it would require reading and completing a small mountain of applications, financial aid forms, and scholarship essays just to get his foot in the door. He also realized that his parents, as much as they wanted to, couldn’t afford tuition. There was no dancing around the issue. He had to become a better writer. His future depended on it. “I knew that if I didn’t get a scholarship, it would be the end of me going to school.”
Fleming called upon a tight circle of trusted friends to review and edit his writing. “My spelling was terrible, among other things,” he remembers. “I swallowed my pride and made the changes.” Fleming felt vulnerable, but he knew the experience would make him a stronger communicator and develop a thicker skin.
His self-imposed writing “boot camp” also paid off financially. Fleming earned several scholarships and moved to Fort Collins to become a Ram.
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
When choosing a college, CSU really stood out for Fleming. The down-to-earth attitude of everyone he met was appealing. The university’s academic reputation was impressive, and the in-state tuition made it a smart choice. But for Fleming, the thing that made CSU rise above all other schools was the Resources for Disabled Students (RDS) office.
“RDS was extremely welcoming and helpful,” says Fleming. “I could tell they wanted me to succeed.” RDS connected Fleming to audio readings and additional resources that helped him stay on top of coursework. The sociology major liked that RDS was a voice for equality and social change. Fleming became an active member of the Committee for Disabled Student Accessibility and the President’s Multicultural Student Advisory Committee. RDS gave Fleming a sense of community and purpose, and he thrived as a student leader.
By the time Fleming was a junior, there were more than 1,300 students with disabilities at CSU. Determined to remove the stigma attached to the word “disability,” Fleming founded the Ability Club – an advocacy, support, and social justice affinity group for people with disabilities and their allies at CSU. As RDS director Rose Kreston would say, “We are all similar only through the fact that we are all so very different.” Fleming wanted to open people’s eyes to the fact that human variety is all around us, and variety makes the world a better place. He was on a mission to show that disability does not equal inability. To prove it, he made disabilities more visible.
Through the Ability Club, Fleming participated in the first Disability Pride Parade in Fort Collins, represented the club at CSU’s Diverse Reverse Career Fair, championed on-campus access issues, and organized student disability panels.
The student panels – made up of Ability Club members with learning, physical, developmental, and psychological disabilities – went into university classrooms to share personal experiences and break down disability stereotypes.
The first panel Fleming organized was for instructor Julie Sullivan in the Department of Ethnic Studies. He was taking one of her ethnicity in media courses and offered to bring the disability voice to the classroom discussion.
“Other than Rose Kreston’s wonderful class about disability in society, the Ability Club was the only organization on campus that taught students about disability from a firsthand perspective,” says Fleming, who coordinated between two and six panels every semester over four years.
On top of everything else, Fleming exercised his writing muscle as a staff reporter for the Rocky Mountain Collegian newspaper, and he spent summers as a counselor at a camp for people with disabilities. In 2012, Fleming co-founded the CSU chapter of Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society to recognize academic and service excellence among students with disabilities.
Behind the scenes, the busy dean’s list student was worried about how to pay for tuition his senior year. He applied for the Alumni Association’s Metro Denver Scholarship, which is awarded to undergraduate juniors or seniors with financial need from the six-county metro Denver area. The award came in the nick of time for Fleming. “Without the Metro Denver Scholarship I would never have made it through school,” he says with appreciation.
In 2013, Fleming graduated magna cum laude from the College of Liberal Arts earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in criminal justice. He minored in political science and media studies.
Without skipping a beat, Fleming entered graduate school to study communications. He taught a 300-level technical writing course and worked harder than most to read and grade papers. Fleming’s communication chops were tested yet again when he buckled down to research and write his thesis: “Finding a story to end mental health stigma.” In it, Fleming strongly advocated for access, acceptance, and understanding, and once again called for an end to harmful stereotypes. He called for communicators to rethink their approach, and be deliberate in their efforts, to destigmatize mental health.
“My master’s program was incredible and the department’s supportiveness was amazing,” says a grateful Fleming, who was also dealing with the loss of his grandmother through it all.
In 2015, he earned a 4.0 grade point average, successfully defended his thesis, and received a Master of Science in public communication and technology.
WITH GREAT DISABILITY COMES GREAT POWER
After he completed graduate school, Fleming landed a communications internship with the federal government. His supervisor liked what he saw and offered Fleming a full-time job with the U.S. Army Sustainment Command in Rock Island, Illinois.
Today, Fleming is a public affairs specialist drafting press releases, writing news stories, and providing photojournalism for high-profile events at the Army’s Rock Island Arsenal.
Fleming wasn’t torn from the pages of a comic book, but to many he’s a marvel. His strong character was shaped through hard work and by his ability to embrace the gift of dyslexia as part of his true identity rather than something to hide away.
“I want to serve and make the world a more understanding, accepting, tolerant place, with less suffering and more joy,” he says about his mission in life. “What I hope makes me exceptional is that I make people’s lives better through my support and commitment to justice.”
This proud Ram doesn’t want people to see him as needing to be fixed. He also doesn’t want people to see him as superhuman because he persevered. “I worked to my advantages,” he says with a shrug. He’s just human. The same label as everyone.
If Kevin Fleming could thank a Metro Denver Scholarship donor, what would he say?
“Without the scholarship, and people like you who contribute to that kind of award, I would never have made it through school … and I certainly wouldn’t have felt so much pride and validation from my college experience. It’s a great thing to give someone a gift like an education – one that they’ll never stop using.”
Hunter Stafford (left) and his dad
Kimberly Worth ('14) in her classroom
Brendan Thammarath ('16), far right
Please contact Donna Reiser at 970-491-5176 or firstname.lastname@example.org to become an official Green & Gold Gala sponsor.
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