Rams Abroad: Impact In Africa


This is Africa. Livingstone, Zambia, population: less than 140,000. You are immersed in the exotic sights and sounds of this historic British colonial city ...

Breathtaking Victoria Falls untouched by human development; a herd of elephants marching ahead on a very distant plain; giraffes, lions, zebras, and ... Colorado State University students.

It was the summer of 2015. Ellen Brinks, professor and recently appointed Peace Corps Master’s International Program liaison for the CSU English department, was leading a group of 12 CSU students on a three-week service-learning trip.

The students, representing various College of Liberal Arts departments, had filled out piles of paperwork, received malaria and yellow fever vaccinations, and done intensive study of the local culture before embarking on the 9,000-mile journey to the cradle of civilization.

Upon arrival, African Impact, the volunteer organization that supported the program, put the students to work. Their focus: community education and public health.

We Want to Learn!

In Livingstone, there is no government funding for schooling. Instead, education is entirely community supported. In order to attend school, Zambian children pay the equivalent of $7 each trimester to attend school. Without tuition, they are dismissed from class.

CSU students learned of the plight. A class of 40 students easily drops to four when students are unable to pay their fees. In the meantime, children kept out of school would still arrive daily to stand outside the windows chanting, "we want to learn," and pleading to be allowed back in. "These kids would do anything for the opportunity to learn," said Jo Buckley, a sophomore international studies major. "Education is a privilege there, and they have to pay for it, so anything you offered they were happy to soak up."

CSU students helped fill the void by teaching math and science, and created meaningful bonds in the process.

Learning Through Service

Zambia sits landlocked in the center of southern Africa and, in 2010, was named one of the world's fastest economically reformed countries by the World Bank in 2010. Although rapidly developing, it still lacks key resources that most industrialized nations take for granted.

Rams experienced this firsthand. CSU students visited clinics in surrounding communities where nearly 100 people waited each day to see a doctor.

"In most of these clinics, there is running water, but no electricity or medical equipment we would recognize," Brinks said.

Without adequate staffing, the clinics turned to CSU students for temporary relief and support – checking in patients, taking vitals, and, in one surprising instance, even assisting to deliver a baby. Students visited the sick and poor through home-based care programs and supported staff providing HIV education to the community.

Brinks has estimated that more than 250 community health recipients and 500 local students were touched by the CSU program, a remarkable number considering the short period of the visit and the small size of the CSU group.

“There’s a seismic shift that happens after really experiencing Africa for all that it is, which I think is the point of the whole program," said Brinks. "It’s about enriching students in ways they cannot get in a classroom and allowing them to imagine possible futures for themselves.”

Planning is already in the works for the 2016 trip, and the program will once again be led by Brinks. In 2015, students paid for the bulk of expenses, including travel, but funding opportunities are available to help lessen the financial burden for students and make the program ongoing.

Click here to support the Zambia service-learning program. Every gift will make an impact in providing hands-on learning experiences for CSU students that change lives. To learn more about the Zambia service-learning program, please contact Ellen Brinks at ellen.brinks@colostate.edu.

Waste to Walls

In addition to their education and health work, CSU students worked on a pilot project called eco-bricking. The project for African Impact was to build a compost bin, putting plastic waste (such as 300 plastic bags) into plastic bottles to create bricks. The process made the bricks dense enough for building and insulation.

"The waste in Livingstone is a huge issue, as there is no good waste-management system that the people can afford," said Katie Wybenga, senior natural sciences major. "This results in waste lining the streets and waste being burned. Eco-bricks can reduce the waste and then can be used by communities to build things that can be useful for them. African Impact has been educating communities, especially children, on the process, and the kids love to get involved."

Click here to support the Zambia program. Every gift will make an impact in providing hands-on learning experiences for CSU students that change lives. To learn more about the Zambia service-learning program, please contact Ellen Brinks at ellen.brinks@colostate.edu.


Getting a New Start


Serve your country. Beat the odds.

More than 2 million men and women are active and reserved military personnel in the United States. The choice to serve our country opens doors and can lead our service members down unimagined roads – roads that may veer toward life-changing experiences and, in some cases, challenges and sacrifices.

Joel Peters barely lived through his life-changing experience on May 29, 2009, in East Africa. Peters was on his way to provide first aid to fellow marines. He never got there. A mortar explosion flipped the truck he was riding in and threw him out. He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, and injured his rotator cuff, ribs, and back. He spent two weeks in a coma, and his family was told to prepare for the worst.

Peters lived. His recovery was slow and painful. The prognosis was not great. Doctors warned that he might never again speak intelligently or be able to drive a car. He beat the odds.

Today, Joel Peters lives the full life of a family man, raising three children with wife, Darcy, and is on the verge of graduating from Colorado State University with a degree in social work. Occasionally, he loses his balance and the room spins briefly when he lies down.

Peters says he never imagined he would be here. He could never have turned his life around without the help of CSU’s New Start program and inspiration from student-veteran coordinator Erica Schelly.

"If she wasn’t there, and the program wasn’t there, I’d be less motivated," Peters said. "Sometimes, I need that extra push."

"Through New Start, you realize that just because you got hurt doesn’t mean you can’t ever do anything again," Peters said. "You got hurt, but that’s irrelevant at this point. At New Start, there’s a genuine desire to help. They are a welcoming place."

The New Start program, based in the Department of Occupational Therapy, supports CSU student-veterans in many ways, including aiding memory, concentration, and/or physical challenges; stress management; academic skills; peer mentoring; and campus/community resources. Cathy Schelly, professor in occupational therapy and director of the Center for Community Partnerships, identified the need after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

CSU alumnus and veteran Dennis Repp gave $1.55 million to create the New Start for Distinguished Veterans fund in 2012. Repp has since supported the program with an additional $1 million to better track the progress of program participants, from college entry to graduation and beyond.

New Start now serves more than 135 student-veterans like Joel Peters and is one of the reasons Colorado State ranks in the top tier as a military-friendly university.

You can support this vital program by making a gift online. For more information, please contact Kim Winger, development director for the College of Health and Human Sciences, at (970) 491-2797 or Kim.Winger@colostate.edu.


Emily’s Hope: One Cure, Unlimited Impact


Cancer strikes. You have hope, but few options. This is 10-year-old Emily Brown’s story.

Emily was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, located on her spine. Nothing was working, and time was running out. New ideas and innovations were necessary.

Her doctor called the Colorado State University Robert H. and Mary G. Flint Animal Cancer Center. Together, the teams adapted a drug therapy developed for dogs, called MTPPE, as a last-ditch effort for Emily. The drug was not approved for use on humans by the FDA, so the family had to get a compassionate-use exemption from the FDA to try it.

Fast-forward. It’s been more than 18 years, and Emily’s cancer is in remission. She and her parents agree the treatment saved her life and want to make sure others have access to options.

Emily is now involved with raising awareness for CSU’s One Cure initiative, which benefits the Comparative Oncology Clinical Trials Program at the Flint Animal Cancer Center. The program translates discovery, breakthrough, and insights in treating cancer in dogs into improvements in human cancer treatment. This work is possible because of disease similarities among species. Emily and her story have helped to raise more than $270,000 for the program.

“Whatever the definition or belief of what hope is, what matters is the fact that you can wake up each day with hope. As long as you can do that, life will be OK, no matter where life takes you.”

Funding for the One Cure initiative is ongoing and essential for improving lives and finding a cure for cancer in people and pets. Support for the program can have a major impact on families for generations to come.

Click here to support the One Cure initiative.

Funding for the One Cure initiative is ongoing and essential for improving lives and finding a cure for cancer in people and pets. Support for the program can have a major impact on families for generations to come. 
Click here to support the One Cure initiative

The Lobatos Pay It Forward


From one sister, to a brother, to another. What goes around, comes around, says Jonathan Lobato, ’13.

What came around for this one family was the urge to pave a path of success beyond their own family to serve a community.

It all started with Erica. The first in the Lobato family to attend Colorado State University, Erica Lobato quickly found a place within a living and learning community called the Key Academic Community. The Key Community’s mission is to help incoming students seamlessly transition into college life. Erica was drawn to the program’s commitment to diversity, community involvement, and academic support and encouragement. It was a perfect match for her values around lifelong learning, helping others, and unconditional love for family.

Key creates foundation for family

It wasn’t long before Jonathan was following in his sister’s footsteps, enrolling at CSU and joining the Key Academic Community. "I believe that my experience with Key furnished me with the strong foundation to succeed at CSU. This support network became my campus family," says Jonathan.

When Jonathan was a sophomore, Matthew joined his brother and sister, transferring from Front Range Community College to CSU and also joining the Key Academic Community. The siblings were also roommates and, while many siblings would not fare well with this kind of living arrangement, the Lobatos loved it. "It was a blast," says Jonathan. "It was like living at home, but without our parents."

"The bond among the three of us is strong, and we are naturally close," says Erica. Matthew adds, "Blood makes you relatives, but loyalty, respect, and trust make you family."

“My parents always demonstrated the importance of hard work and giving back," says Jonathan. Their father would ask, "If you’re not helping other people around you, then what’s the point?”

Jonathan, ’13, Matthew Lobato, ’12, and Erica Lobato, ’09 with support from their parents, Deborah and Richard, founded the J.E.M.’s Scholarship in 2012.

The scholarship, an acronym for the siblings’ first names, focuses support to graduates of Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver, Colo., (the Lobatos’ former high school) who will attend CSU and enroll in the Colorado State University Key Academic Community. "We all feel truly blessed and thankful for all of the opportunities that have come our way so far and want to help provide similar opportunities for those who don’t have the support, either financially or emotionally," says Erica.

The siblings are well on their way, pursuing careers and adventures. Whether in Denver (Jonathan), New York (Erica), or Texas (Matthew), they stayed connected as a family, as Rams, and to Colorado State University through the J.E.M.’s Scholarship.

The Lobatos hope to grow the scholarship so graduates of all Denver public high schools can access it.

Click here to support the J.E.M.'s Scholarship.


In Pursuit of a Dream: Robert Tate’s Story


You bring successful careers in human resources and real estate to a close, what’s next?

For Robert Tate, it was a chance to live his dream. That dream meant moving to the Rocky Mountains to fill days with skiing, hiking, cycling, and discovering nature like never before.

Then, Colorado State University happened. Bob was in paradise. His new life had just begun, when he looked into some course work at CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources, and started volunteering for Wildland Restoration Volunteers and the Nature Conservancy’s Phantom Canyon Preserve north of Fort Collins.

For Bob, Phantom Canyon, a 1,120-acre site described as one of Northern Colorado’s last roadless canyons, meant really getting his hands dirty – mending fences, renovating buildings, helping to restore habitats – and building relationships. While doing the “grunt work,” Bob met many CSU students and truly bonded with their passion for improving our world and preserving nature’s treasures.

For more than 10 years, the preserve has been exposing Warner College students to nature in its purest form – an undisturbed environment with more than 100 bird species, more than 200 plant species, black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, and moose strolling by, and eagles soaring overhead – and plenty of relevant hands-on experience. The students help keep the Preserve beautiful by weeding, repairing trails, collecting seeds, and planting. Experiences that last a lifetime.


“During my 12 years at Phantom Canyon, I’ve worked alongside a number of students from the Warner College. The experience they receive working there complements their course work so well and is extremely valuable to their careers. I really wanted to do something to make the program stronger.”

For their work, CSU students have received small stipends. Bob wanted better opportunities for students and the partnership between Warner College and The Nature Conservancy to thrive. His solution, a $100,000 endowment to the program.

Bob’s dedication to the Warner College runs deep. In 2010, he funded a fellowship within the CSU Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, supporting graduate students focusing on habitat restoration.

The Warner College of Natural Resources’ mission – to contribute to the conservation, stewardship, and enjoyment of natural resources that benefit the world and mankind – speaks to Bob Tate’s heart and soul. He is pursuing a master’s degree with the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship and continues as a major force supporting student-volunteers. He embodies the spirit of Warner College’s mission to benefit the world and mankind.

To learn more about supporting the Warner College Nature Conservancy program and other vital Warner College programs and scholarships that can change lives, please contact Scott Webb, executive director of development for the Warner College of Natural Resources, at (970) 491-3594 or Scott.webb@colostate.edu


Fund 1 the Explorer

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