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Art student receives scholarship to support thesis project

By Tom Jacobs & Adam Million
Kenzie Sitterud
Kenzie Sitterud's The Kitchen Table

A non-traditional student, Kenzie Sitterud has always been exceptionally creative, expressing herself through music and art. Her vision and talent as an artist helped her land a competitive grant, established by a private donor, that supports Art students with their thesis projects.

Originally from Utah, Sitterud began her academic career at the Community College of Denver (CCD) where she earned an associate degree in art. Afterward, though, she was drawn to Seattle where she followed her passion for music, performing professionally as a one-person band (Hotel Radio) for several years. After five years of living the rock life, Sitterud decided to switch gears and earn her bachelor’s degree in art.

Sitterud was interested in MSU Denver's Communication Design program, because of its reputation and she could transfer her credits from CCD. The combination of a top-tier degree program and the financial affordability helped bring Sitterud back to Denver, where she cultivated her passion for art and design and began making plans to pursue a career in either publication or environmental design.

“I found that I really enjoyed design, and it would also be a career in which I could make money while being creative,” noted Sitterud. “The Communication Design program turned out to be one of the best in the state, so I just kind of lucked out with my professors and the education that I’ve been able to get.”

For her thesis, Sitterud wanted to expand on a previous piece she had created and produce another large piece. With that vision, she encountered increased expenses associated with securing the necessary materials. Fortunately for Sitterud, MSU Denver offered the competitive thesis grant award to students. Her thesis project, The Kitchen Table, won Best in Show at the Fall 2016 B.F.A exhibit at the Center for Visual Art.

“Mostly without the help of the scholarship, I wouldn't have been able to afford to make something with as much scale and thought,” said Sitterud. “The scholarship also afforded me time to work extra on the piece. I am very grateful to have received this gift.”

The Kitchen Table proved to be a defining aspect of her portfolio and the CVA provided her with the space to create such a large installment.

“It’s been challenging,” said Sitterud in regards to exhibiting her work, “but I pulled it together. I am so grateful to have been in this gallery (CVA), grateful that there was so much public exposure.”

Having graduated in December 2016, Sitterud plans to apply to graduate school, most likely on the east coast, but also anticipates working for a couple of years to continue developing her design skills and applying her creative sensibilities.

If you are interested in supporting the B.F.A. thesis grant award at MSU Denver, please contact Gwen Thompson, senior director of development, at 303-556-6819 or gthomp39@msudenver.edu.


Scholarship support helps future teacher pursue passion

  By Adam Million

Adam Viglione in Student Success BuildingAdam Viglione needed a path to a brighter future and MSU Denver gave him one.

Originally from Michigan, Viglione attended a state university there to study professional golf management. He had planned to enter the golf industry since the 6th grade and progressed from high school to college with this same goal in mind. After graduating, he moved to Colorado to pursue the career he had always dreamed as a golf pro.

He spent a few years working in the golf industry in Colorado and Arizona, but he soon realized the passion he once had for his career had waned. He was in need of a new career path.

As a golf professional, he found a sense of fulfilment working with children and decided that he wanted to continue down that path inside the classroom and not on the golf course, which ultimately meant he needed to return to school to study education.

“The biggest thing was biting the bullet and doing it,” said Viglione. “Tuition was a huge factor for me. I tried to look into cheaper options outside of school to get into teaching, but everyone I talked to told me to go through Metro.”

MSU Denver was a great fit for Viglione. With the lowest tuition in the state, he could work his way through school without incurring debt, providing him the opportunity to follow his dream. Support from a School of Education scholarship helped him with tuition even more while he continued working on his student teaching requirements. With some outside work and scholarship support, he has positioned himself to complete his education with little debt and fulfill his new plans to become a teacher.

“I didn’t really want to be in debt when I finished,” explained Viglione, “otherwise I’d have to start taking jobs for the money to pay off my loans, and that would keep me from working in low-income areas where I want to help. Without that debt, you have the freedom to do whatever you want, without focusing solely on money.”

Viglione is currently student teaching at Fairview Elementary in Denver. He plans to tour schools by substitute teaching in order to find a location that best fits his goal of teaching in a low-income environment.

“I want to work with kids who want to be helped, but may not have a positive male figure, or a positive figure at all, in their life.”


New interview rooms prepare students for life after college

 By Adam Million

Girl interviewingInterviews, love them or hate them, are a necessary part of professional life.

MSU Denver students are now able to better prepare for this inevitable aspect of securing a job after graduation with the new interview rooms in the administration building where the College of Business is located.

The rooms were constructed thanks to a $30,000 gift from local financial firm EKS&H. Alumnus Brad McQueen (B.S. accounting ’95), a partner who has been with EKS&H for the last twelve years, helped broker the deal in late 2015.

“Metro gave me a great platform to start my career,” said McQueen. “When Dean Ann Murphy asked us if we might consider helping underwrite the costs of doing the work to build the interview rooms, it made a lot of sense, because we interview on campus each year.”

The interview rooms are the first of their kind on campus and are used primarily for employers who wish to conduct interviews for jobs and internships. Any employer can use the space, but they are primarily used by those recruiting from the College of Business.

According to Amy Bechtum, career specialist for the College of Business, the interview rooms hosted 11 employers in fall 2016 and supported two days of mock interviews. The College is also partnering with the Center for Professional Selling to support their role play competitions by offering use of the facilities.

Previously, interviews were typically conducted in a conference room, faculty member’s office or room at the Tivoli, and availability of those spaces determined when interviews could be conducted. With the new rooms, staff can better support employers’ requests and accommodate last minute changes.

“Last fall,” said Bechtum, “one of our employers selected so many students to interview, they needed to add another interview day—and two rooms. We were able to quickly accommodate the request, even though we already had another employer scheduled on the day they requested.”

While the space is relatively new, more students and faculty are becoming aware of its availability. The employers definitely appreciate the space, since it is secure and spacious – not someone else’s office – given that recruiters might be on campus for the entire day conducting interviews.

For EKS&H, they hire more than 100 students from colleges and universities in the Rocky Mountain Region each year, and they partner with universities where they know they will find the best and brightest students.

“Our Metro student hires have shown a strong work ethic, great communication skills and an ability to keep the many balls we ask staff to juggle in the air,” said McQueen.

With these new rooms, students will be more prepared to answer those inevitable question, and more recruiters and executives will be attracted to campus to hire MSU Denver grads. The hands-on skills students develop from practicing interviewing will translate throughout their career, because, right now, interviews and face-to-face communication are still (mostly) essential to landing that dream job.

For more information on how you can support the College of Business, please contact Ran Railey, associate director of development, at 303-556-5119 or wrailey@msudenver.edu.


Former faculty member establishes scholarship to ease financial burden of student teachers

 By Lynne Winter

MSU Denver student teacher in classroomStudent teaching is an exciting and crucial time in a future teacher's academic career, the final step in a realized goal that gives students an opportunity to reaffirm their career choice and get essential hands-on experience.

But the endeavor also presents a unique financial challenge.

"Student teachers work the same hours as licensed teachers, yet do not get paid,” said Cecelia Box, a former associate professor in the Secondary Education Department. “In fact, they pay tuition and fees while they student teach, putting an especially difficult financial burden on them.”

To address that burden, Box made a generous gift to the MSU Denver Foundation, which established The Jack and Fran Kaufman Endowed Scholarship for Student Teaching.

Box taught at MSU Denver from 1993-99 and has fond memories of the then-College. It was during that time that she observed the unique challenges student teachers face.

She chose to name the scholarship after her dear friends Jack and Fran Kaufman. Jack retired from a distinguished career as an elementary principal with the Boulder Valley School District, after which he taught part-time at MSU Denver in the field of instructional technology. His wife Fran is a lifelong teacher and continues to work as a substitute teacher. Both Jack and Fran will also be part of the scholarship selection committee.

"I can think of no better people to be honored in the field of education than these two wonderful folks," Box said. "Now many years into retirement, both Jack and Fran continue to be active in their community and are still deeply committed to public education."

Current student teacher Shelby Gregor, a special education major who will graduate in December, described the scholarship as an “amazing opportunity.”

"It is so incredible because students will be able to focus 100 percent on student teaching and making a difference in kids' lives,” she said. “They won't have to worry so much about how to support themselves."

If you are interested in knowing more about how you can support education students and the School of Education Retention Fund, please contact Janine Flores-Jackson at 303-556-5149 or jflore23@msudenver.edu.


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