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Diversity and Inclusion to be Celebrated
at Homecoming 2014

The college, in partnership with the newly established Colorado College Alumni and Students of Color Association (CCASCA), is planning a series of events during CC’s Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 9-12, 2014.

Although these initial events will be held during Homecoming, the CCASCA and the college want conversations about the experiences of alumni and students of color to become an on-going dialogue at Colorado College. We hope you will share your own story — and photos if you have them — by submitting it through the link below. These submissions will appear within this page under the “Our Stories” heading.

Share Your CC Story

Two events, listed below are planned. However, “Diversity” is also the theme for Homecoming. All members of the CC community are invited and encouraged to attend these events.

Friday, Oct. 10, 3-5 p.m.
A Tale of Two CC's: Narratives from Alumni and Students of Color
Richard F. Celeste Theatre, Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center
An engaging panel of diverse alumni and students of color from various generations share stories about life at CC.

Friday, Oct. 10, 6-8 p.m.
Alumni and Students of Color Reception
Bemis Great Hall, Bemis Hall
Connect with alumni, current students, staff, and faculty to network and walk through a new photographic exhibit that highlights important, controversial, progressive, and other historical events on campus. Light refreshments will be served.

Our Stories

Kimberly Cawthorn

Class year: 1997
Major: Sociology
Current Profession: Affialiate Faculty, Regis University

Normally, when looking to go to college you think of getting an education, but when I look back at my experience at CC, I like to call it becoming educated. At the end of our four years there, I remember my closest friends and I talking about our degrees, Sociology, ...

Psychology, Anthropology, and Philosophy and thinking, “Ok, now what are we going to do?” Are these exactly marketable degrees? As first generation college students when the dream is that you get an education and get a career, you’re supposed to begin moving up the ladder of success. What I didn’t understand was that becoming educated at CC was much more than a degree.


My CC experience was a bittersweet wake up call to rest of the world. Coming from a small, largely homogenous, Latino, centennial town in Southern Colorado, prided as the Oldest Town in Colorado, I just knew that CC would be my beginning to conquering the world. I was Salutatorian of my ‘large’ class of 14, Class Vice President, member of Student Council, and yearbook editor. I was a cheerleader and played volleyball and the flute. It wasn’t only until I was asked whether or not I believed I got there because of Affirmative Action did I doubt my abilities, well-roundness and right to be there. I was intimidated from the get-go. I remember sitting in my freshmen orientation seminar and watching a film about the Tragedy of the Commons. In the discussion afterwards, as we sat in our typical CC circle, I remember hearing a ton of 12-letter words in the comments from the students around me and thinking, ‘Wow! Sounds like they have said a lot, but they don’t know Commons lands like I know Commons lands.’ They were talking about them like they could never work because of greed and that they were something of the past. But, I knew better. One continues to exist and thrive in my home town. I struggled whether or not to say anything. One of the other students there had been in Indonesia throughout her senior year.  I had only been to Tijuana and Juarez once each on family trips. I didn’t realize you could actually live in another country for an extended period of time like that. Whatever the case, because my strong will overrode any insecurity I guess, I still told them that a Commons did exist and it existed in my home town. Little did I know that the student who studied in Indonesia was just as unsure as I was, thinking that she had missed out on her American education for a whole year and thought she might be behind. At the orientation luncheon, I was sitting with classmates and their parents and overheard one of the parents from back East comment that it was sad that this area didn’t have much history. Once again, I knew better. I just didn’t know how to explain to them that this area, particularly south in New Mexico had been explored and settled almost one hundred years before Plymouth Rock, and prior to that there flourished many nations with much history and culture.

I got asked about my identity from just about everyone from every race and ethnicity, including professors. My identity as Spanish raised a brow by many. One professor even asked if I thought Spain would claim me. Another Latino student a couple of years older than me asked me what I was and when I said Spanish, she said, “Is that why my hair and skin are lighter than yours? You people from New Mexico just want to act like you’re more European and better than everyone else.” As a freshman having been at CC for no more than a couple of months, my jaw dropped to the ground and I was dumbfounded. What was she talking about? I wasn’t even from New Mexico! I knew who I was…I lived and breathed my identity every day. I just didn’t know how to explain it to anyone. Up to that point, I never had the need to. In a class a white student stared at me through my entire response to a professor’s question and waited until I was finished to ask, “Where are you from?” I said, “Colorado. Why?” He continued, “Where are your parents or grandparents from?” “Colorado.” I responded. “Well, your accent is so exotic!” Outside of class, no one understood my English peppered with Spanish.  What? Not everyone speaks this way? And Latinos from other countries couldn’t understand certain words that I used in Spanish either.  At this point, I was starting to feel like I was on another planet and I was only 2 hours away from home! I was ready to leave CC and seriously considering a transfer to UCCS. So many people told me not to do it, but I just didn’t feel like I belonged. Then, I met Johanna Leyba, a senior who took me under her wing. She said she recognized the look in my eyes and knew she had to step in to make sure I stayed – that it would be worth it in the end. Soon after, I met Colette from Walsenburg who talked just like me and I was introduced to MEChA  (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) and found my niche.


We proudly marched on the streets of Washington, D.C. in solidarity with Latinos from every country across the U.S. I co-chaired MEChA the following year and the Gorman Minority Scholars Program, a big brother/big sister partnership program with one of the local middle schools. I became a work study for Rochelle Mason in the Office of Minority Student Life and stayed with her for 2 ½ of my 4 years at CC. I owe her much gratitude for the opportunity and support she provided for me, especially during my senior thesis time when I pulled all-nighters writing in her office! I wrote my first play in a Native American theater class and studied abroad for a semester in Spain my Junior year – something I suggest everyone do if they can. My semester in Spain was a priceless experience that opened my eyes and heart to the world in ways that no book or video can. I was part of committees striving to increase diversity on campus and helped organized many educational symposia sharing with others at CC the art, academics, music and heart of the various minority cultures represented on campus. I enjoyed the Baca campus and the CC cabin. I learned to salsa dance. I was introduced to interpreting my dreams. I went to my first hockey game and was hooked as we rallied for CC against DU.


In the end, CC opened up a new world for me, showing me the beauty of other cultures and the value of serving the community. I learned to be a better writer and a better listener. I learned perseverance and to always make decisions from an educated standpoint, taking in all sides before I make a decision. I also learned not to discount what you know and never to be intimidated by what you perceive others to be. I learned to ask questions. It took me a while to realize that that’s how you learn. No matter whether you think your question might be dumb or whether everyone will think your question isn’t valid. Again, it’s how you learn. I overheard many questions in class coming from students in which I thought the answer was obvious, but my thoughts didn’t matter. They weren’t afraid to ask and that was what was important. They were learning despite my thoughts. I realized I had cheated myself out of learning many a time for fear of what others might think about my questions.






In addition, the seemingly endless questions, comments and assumptions about my identity also led to my quest and passion for genealogy and the identity of the people from my hometown, San Luis, CO. I have found the history of the people of San Luis so fascinating that I continue to work on this research fervently. Since graduating, I have also worked in nonprofits in every aspect from Program Coordinator to Grant Writer and consultant. I received my Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from DU in 2006. I taught secondary Spanish for about 10 years for several school districts and through the Pre-Collegiate Program at CU Boulder. I worked for Regis University as their Program Coordinator and taught courses like Multicultural Perspectives and Foundations for Teaching the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse in their Master of Arts in Education Program. Most recently, about 6 years ago, I took on my toughest, yet most fulfilling job yet – mom of Darien, 5 and Kyara, 2.


Through it all, my “education,” from academic to social at CC has given me the tools to problem solve and the courage to envision the impossible and set forth to make it happen. They say that what you go through makes you stronger. I know it’s cliché, but I think back to my work with kids and teachers, and my current visions and dreams and the purpose in all of it is to help others find their purpose faster and easier than I did. So that when they pursue their dreams and others doubt them or they face similar challenges, their foundation is strong and they can answer the questions that I couldn’t. To me, this is how becoming educated has become much more than a degree. Help others to succeed. Leave things easier for the next generation to help them achieve even greater things. Know that learning is a process, always in progress. Overall, my CC experience was filled with great memories and learning experiences and opportunities. I will be forever grateful for the imprint that CC has left on my life.  


Alexis R Knox-Miller

Class year: 2004
Major: Political Science
Current Profession: Elementary Teacher

I was an accidental Colorado College student.  I always thought I would find myself enrolled in Spelman or Howard...not this small liberal arts college smack in the middle of my home city.  For a girl with ambitions of attending a Historically Black College, Colorado College was different than what I imagined my college experience would be.  Well, sometimes life happens and when I graduated high school, I was eight months pregnant.  CC offered me an opportunity to pursue ...

I was an accidental Colorado College student.  I always thought I would find myself enrolled in Spelman or Howard...not this small liberal arts college smack in the middle of my home city.  For a girl with ambitions of attending a Historically Black College, Colorado College was different than what I imagined my college experience would be.  Well, sometimes life happens and when I graduated high school, I was eight months pregnant.  CC offered me an opportunity to pursue an education because they had a top-notch daycare on campus and a grant for single parents that paid my daycare expenses and provided a big chunk of assistance for my tuition.  I was a non-traditional student on a very traditional campus and did I mention I was also black?

Right away, I involved myself in the Black Student Union.  I was able to make friends and bring my daughter along to meetings.  I didn't feel so isolated when with this group of students.  They were so sure of who they were and what it meant to be a black face on campus.  My first year, I found it more difficult to be on campus with a child than I did with a black face.  I chugged along going to classes, receiving good grades, attending BSU meetings, and daring to prove the naysayers wrong--I would graduate with my baby in tow.  

All of that changed one April in 2002.  After class, I came across many of my friends on campus who were upset and shaken.  Our school newspaper published a racist "paradoy" article.  Any racist stereoytype you can imagine was in that article.  My world was shattered.  I had lived most of my life untouched by major incidents of racism.  I attended a liberal college that should have known better.  My feelings were beyond hurt.  Did the students on campus really think of black students, gay students, any students that were white, straight, and Christian this way?  It is in this moment that I was able to see what all the "fringe" groups on campus were made of.  We instituted a plan of action that involved press conferences, radio appearances, the NAACP, etc.  As a result of our swift and immediate action and outcry, the editiors resigned, programs were implemented, and apologies were issued.  My perception of Colorado College also changed.  It's easy to hide behind the notion of being liberal and the idea that all of the students on campus were holding hands and singing "we are the world."  The reality was that there were (and dare I say it, still are) some undercurrents of racism that have long been institutionalized into the system of the college.  If something as ugly as the parody paper could be produced at our school, then there was some major work to be done and some attitudes that needed to be shifted.  More hurtful than the idea of the paper were those who rallied around the editors and defended their choices and told us that we were being to sensitive.  More hurtful than the idea of the paper is the idea that some people actually thought that the garbage they printed was funny.  More hurtful than the idea of the paper was the fact that my black face would never truly be a part of Colorado College.  

Ten years after graduating, I am able to be extremely clear about how I feel about my college experience.  I learned a lot.  I learned about myself and my world.  I learned about race and how it is truly a real issue in this country.  I learned how to lean on people who have like experiences.  I received a top-notch education from a respected institution.  Most importantly, Colorado College has a lot of work to do around the issue of diversity and the work must begin now.

David "Slimdog" Bell Jr.

Class year: 1986
Major: Economics
Current Profession: Flight Attendant

Me and fellow Kappa Sigma (Beta Omega Chapter) brothers past and present at The Colorado College house in Oct. 2011. Our chapter is the first Kappa Sigma house to initiate an African American, Native American, Special ...

Me and fellow Kappa Sigma (Beta Omega Chapter) brothers past and present at The Colorado College house in Oct. 2011. Our chapter is the first Kappa Sigma house to initiate an African American, Native American, Special Needs & Asian American pledge (pictured with some of that historic alumi class).#HISTORY

David "Slimdog" Bell Jr.

Class year: 1986
Major: Economics
Current Profession: Flight Attendant


My comments come after reading the article "Race And Racism At Colorado College" from Cipher Magazine (May 6, 2014):

 Very good article. It's a little disheartening as well. Being almuni from the class of 86, I saw many of the things that many of the students speak of ...

My comments come after reading the article "Race And Racism At Colorado College" from Cipher Magazine (May 6, 2014):

 Very good article. It's a little disheartening as well. Being almuni from the class of 86, I saw many of the things that many of the students speak of today back in the 80s. Had a student tell me, "I was only at CC because of the quota", had a fellow frat brother (white) call me "nigger", had another frat brother (white as well) tell my white girlfriend, "Why are you with this black guy when you can be with me?" when I went off to get them drinks at a Phi Delt party (she told me in private later). Those were unfortunate isolated incidents that I could count on one hand. I have more grateful and rewarding experiences in my years as a minority at CC (school & fraternity) than bad ones.

It was tough being a minority there, but other than getting the good education that CC offers, I also taught alot of friends that I made there about the experiences I go through as a minority.

I had a CC hockey player come to me after our, "History Of The Chicano Experience" class, pull me aside and tell me that he had never socialized with African Americans. You see, he was from N. Dakota and there were NO African Americans living in his small town. He only knew from what he saw on tv (and you all know how that goes). He expressed to me that he saw me as a good, intelligent person and wanted to say his views that he had of us were skewed. Hearing me talk in class and just seeing me around campus daily changed his viewpoints. He told me thanks for listening and wanted to hang out sometime. That meant a lot to me.

Alot of history at CC involving minorities may not be known by the current administration or students. The Beta Omega chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity at CC initiated the first African American, Native American and Asian American in Kappa Sigma history. Our chapter at CC did this even though Kappa Sigma as a national charter didn't want this to happen at that time. 1968 if I remember correctly. Sometimes you have to leave and even show those your footprints for those to see where you been and where you are going.

Our frat was made fun of by others at the time and nicknamed "Negroids" by them. Kappa Sigmas took the name, shortened it to "Groids" and kept the nickname to show solidarity for the African American they considered their brother. "There is a difference" was added as a slogan. To show the variety of the diversity in our house when I attended, we had a higher percentage of minorities in our house than on campus. It showed the greatness that is our chapter, but it also showed the lack thereof what was needed to be done about bringing and keeping diversity at CC.

Like I said earlier, I personally have had way more great experiences as a minority at CC than naught. I always asked myself, "CC has left an impression on me, how can I leav an impression for CC?"

As a pledge with the Beta Omega chapter of Kapp Sigma in 1983, I help start a "Rib Doctors" tradition for fraterinty rush that continued for 20+ years. It is being talked about being used again. I started "Soul Night" at Bejamins Basement in 1983 along with help from Kappa Sigma as well to help bring diversity in music to CC. At one point in time in the 80s, the night was the highlight of social activites (and great stress reliever from studies) at CC while I was there. It continued for a couple of years after I left by fellow brother Ken Kobayashi. I have alumi still come to me today at homecomings and on facebook mention what great times those were.

The pinnacle of my CC experience happened this year when I was one of three first inductees into the "Steve Sabol Hall Of Fame For The Beta Omega Chapter Of Kappa Sigma". Steve Sabol of NFL Films was a Beta Omega alumni of Kappa Sigma here at CC. To be honored with this award along with 2 other great alumni is something I will never forget...

What mark will you leave?

Angela Cobian

Class year: 2011
Major: Political Science
Current Profession: Fulbright Fellow, Mexico City, Mexico

Angela  Cobian

This picture shows sophomore year (2008-2009) Homecoming. This group of wonderful women of color continued to be my closest friends until we graduated in 2011. Most of us are woman of color from the Denver-Metro area, but also included international students from Ethiopia, India, and Ecuador. Our group converged with the ladies of 1W in Loomis from New England. We learned a lot from each other; at CC we empowered each other to be successful, kickass women. We continue to do so today!

This picture shows sophomore year (2008-2009) Homecoming. This group of wonderful women of color continued to be my closest friends until we graduated in 2011. Most of us are woman of color from the Denver-Metro area, but also included international students from Ethiopia, India, and Ecuador. Our group converged with the ladies of 1W in Loomis from New England. We learned a lot from each other; at CC we empowered each other to be successful, kickass women. We continue to do so today!

Jason Clark

Class year: 2007
Major: Romance Languages & Literature
Current Profession: Higher Education Administrator

Jason  Clark

My time at CC was filled with paradoxes for which I am ultimately grateful. The rich educational experiences inside and outside of the classroom were both academically and personally challenging. At times I felt voiceless at CC, yet I learned to advocate for myself. I felt physically separated from my family, rejected by my hometown community for my choice to pursue education, and unwelcomed by my peers for not having the right kind of social, intellectual, and monetary capital. But ...

ultimately, I am who I am because of CC and I would make no changes.

When I first arrived on campus, the idea of being surrounded by other students who were excited about education was invigorating.  I grew up in Spanish Harlem in NYC in government housing and spent most of my childhood in foster care -- the odds were certainly against me. Education was the only variable I had to take control of my future and success.  However, while I was overcoming odds it seemed that every other CC student was taking advanced placement courses, visiting other countries, starting nonprofit organizations and way ahead of the game. I felt underprepared, broke, and unworthy to contribute my perspective in the classroom. 

I am Puerto Rican and Dominican and apparently no one in Colorado, at the time, knew what that meant.  Leaving NYC for Colorado Springs in some ways made matters worse but it also gave me better sense of self. I knew I was in trouble when I could not find anyone to cut my thick black curly fro and when I couldn’t find rice and beans at Rastall. It may seem funny, but I felt like I didn’t exist because the foods I grew up with were not available and I couldn’t get my hair cut the way it had looked for years.  Even going home for the summer was draining. Because I had some college education, left NYC, lived in Colorado, etc. I was looked at differently by some of my friends, family members and people in my community in general.  People assumed I was too good and that I had abandoned them. I was so confused.

However, the distance from my family only drew me closer to my Afro-Latino heritage and also to my community. I had to be more adamant and intentional about preserving and sharing my culture. I lost so many of my CDs at Salsa Nights to get the chance to dance merengue, bachatat and salsa. Yet I remember being frustrated by questions like, Do you speak Spanish? Are you Mexican?  There were also some painful experiences associated with not ever being black enough for BSU or Latino enough for Somos. Nevertheless, I became more passionate about advancing urban and diverse communities; and grew excited to integrate my social and intellectual perspective. Most of the work I do now is associated with empowering communities of color and making sure higher educational institutions do not implement policies and procedures that marginalize and create barriers.

I struggled at CC because I was different, I was not the norm and my culture, perspective, and beliefs were rarely reflected in the student body, campus policies, or in the campus artwork/architecture. When you are called out in class to represent your race in the discussion, or people think that you must be at CC because you play a sport, or assume that you must have a scholarship, its begins to slowly tear you down. Sometime you start to believe in those comments. These feelings are rekindled every time I step foot on campus. But there is hope. The education I received at CC changed my life. 

Sure, maybe I became a critical thinker, but I also clawed myself out of poverty and gained a sense of pride in myself that can never be taken away. I used to walk around campus believing the lies of my peers that the only reason I got into CC was because of the color of my skin and compelling story.  However, I am proud of the fact that I got into to CC without special test preparation courses or any esteemed public or private high school – heck my high school has been shut down for years due to underperforming scores.  I worked extremely hard – while others partied - and earned my degree by myself.  I made the dean lists a few times and did this all while working two jobs, volunteering and being super active at my church. I felt exceptionally prepared for graduate school and for navigating the workplace. Every time I mention CC, doors literally open. Even the hard experiences taught me much about myself and empowered me to advocate for myself and others. My current life would be so incredibly different had I not chosen to go to Colorado College and I would not change anything about my experiences. As a CC alumnus of color, I am excited to reconnect with my alma mater, not because those were the best years of my life but because my presence is needed. There is hope after CC for alumni and students of color.

Nancy Hernandez

Class year: 1996
Major: Philosophy
Current Profession: Program Officer, Hispanic Scholarship Fund and Doctoral Student

Nancy  Hernandez

In my incredibly overwhelming first weeks of being a CC student, I distinctly remember spotting a large, round piece of bread covered with yellow gunk and burnt little onion bits in the bread case of Benji’s Cafe.  It looked and smelled like the most disgusting donut to ever come out of a baker’s worst nightmare.  The large disgusting donut was in fact a bagel, which I had ...

never seen before in my hometown of El Paso, TX.  I was so repulsed that I avoided bagels until my senior year when I saw another CC student making them in the kitchen of Jackson House.  Aha!  A bagel can be good to eat (but not with cheese and onions because to me, those still belong on nachos).

When I share this story with students, they often roar with laughter and roll their eyes.  One of them pointedly said to me in Spanish “Nancy you were seriously dumb.”  I share the bagel story to get them to laugh and to demonstrate that no matter how ignorant you are you can still turn out to be somewhat intelligent.  Afterwards, I tell them my more serious CC stories to prove to them that they can and will survive whatever college obstacles come their way.  I try to give them a fair warning about the challenges they might face so they can avoid repeating my own bumbling, desperate journey.

As a CC student, I was quite fragile and vulnerable; but now at 40 years old, I look back at those obstacles and mostly they bring a smile to my face.  Today, I feel the opposite.  I am resilient and strong.  I also know I’m pretty damn impressive: To be a first-generation, low-income woman of color, and to go from poverty to middle class in one lifetime is quite an accomplishment! And they said it would never happen with a philosophy degree!

Nowadays, I know that no matter how upsetting an experience can be, most of the time I will get over it.  I tell my own students who struggle in college, “Just trust me.  You will be ok.  You will get through this.”  I say it with the certainty of a smug, unflappable elder.  I want them to trust me, even if they are terrified- even if their families are terrified. 

I know it’s not easy to be at a place like CC.  I remember the homesickness and culture shock.  I remember being in class and feeling stupid and inferior.  I remember the sting when people suggested that I got into CC because the bar had been lowered for me.  I remember that for a long time, I thought some of my CC peers were even poorer than I was because I thought they couldn’t afford soap to shower.  Their jeans were full of holes (oh the horror!) and they bought used clothes.  Imagine my surprise when a friend pointed out that the students I thought were “poor” owned cars and purchased drugs regularly.  I was appalled.  To think I never questioned my financial aid because I felt sorry for them! 

I feel like I didn’t have the “traditional” CC experience because I was at CC to claw my way out of poverty, not to discover myself and have fun.  Getting out of poverty is a serious endeavor that doesn’t leave much room for laughter or joy.  When those around you don’t seem to be as serious about their education, it triggers a deep anger rooted in an awareness of privilege and racism and power.  Maybe, if I had realized this when I was at CC, I would have had an easier time adjusting and with not taking everything so seriously.  But I just figured this out right now- right this minute.  Bummer.  

Anyway, I came to CC to learn and I did.  In fact, I believe I learned more at CC than in my Master’s and current PhD programs combined.  I found a part of my identity I didn’t even know was missing. I had a great deal of fun too after I graduated and was fortunate to meet a group of younger CC students of color who were a lot better adjusted and way more worldly than I was.

I didn’t always feel so positive about my experiences at CC.  But because my CC education was so precious and so hard earned, it has made me even more appreciative of how it has transformed my life.  I also recognize that a caring group of people at CC reached out and patiently, unwaveringly supported, encouraged and comforted me.  Many of them continue to help me and I am forever grateful to them.  I made them my family.  I would not have made it through CC without them.  My life would not be what it is if it wasn’t for them.  Having faculty and staff to step in and treat students as individuals is something that sets CC apart from many institutions of higher learning.  It is what keeps many students like me from giving up. 

Today I am better prepared to support CC students because I have more clarity about my time on campus.  I have become a mentor who says many of the same things my mentors said to me.  I am also in a much better position to advocate for the kinds of change we angrily demanded as students.  Yes, I know there are lots of issues on campus that require alumni involvement.  Yes, I want to work on those. 

I want students who read my story to feel proud about being at CC.  I want them to know that they can get through the obstacles and that it is ok to ask for help.  I want them to enjoy their time in college because it truly is the best gift you can give to yourself.  I want them to take advantage of everything CC has to offer- whether those are onion-covered “donuts”, Navajo frybread, traveling abroad or going to a party now and then.  Most of all, I want current CC students to trust me when I say that it will all be worth it and that they will be ok if they have the perseverance to continue. 

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