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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 303-615-0662 or

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 303-615-2051 or

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.”

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

Crowdfunding ELEVATEs student projects at MSU Denver

By Lynne Winter      

The cost of a college education often extends beyond tuition, fees and books, and students at Metropolitan State University of Denver can find themselves with financial needs they are unable to cover without assistance – athletic team equipment, alternative spring break or the opportunity to attend a conference or competition across the country.

That is where Elevate comes in. Elevate is MSU Denver’s crowdfunding page that provides a platform for student groups or departments to reach out to donors and ask them to lend their financial backing directly to smaller projects.

Last year, the MSU Denver Women’s Volleyball team utilized Elevate to raise a portion of their travel expenses for a volunteerism-centered tour of Nicaragua. While there, student-athletes gained a humbling global perspective by coordinating youth volleyball clinics, teaching English to students and delivering supplies to local schools.

More than 60 generous donors like you made gifts to the volleyball team through Elevate with donations totaling over $6000, making it possible for them to take part in a life-changing experience.

“I am thankful to our donors for helping all of us reach our goal of going to Nicaragua,” says student-athlete Stephanie L. “This trip made me grateful for the access I have to opportunities and resources. I also learned that no matter what, I can always afford to give to others – whether it be time, energy, focus or resources.”

This year, the MSU Denver Precision Flight Team – an elite group of women and men dedicated to becoming safe and professional pilots – is raising funds to attend Nationals after placing third in the SAFECON regional competition. They are excited to compete against the best teams in the country and make MSU Denver proud.

Flight team members are working hard fundraising for trip expenses and donations will cover the cost of aircraft rentals at Nationals, meals and other travel expenses. As a way to show appreciation to their donors, the Precision Flight Team is offering flights with a PFT pilot – gifts of $2500 will receive a 60-minute flight and gifts of $3000 will receive a 90-minute flight.

When donors choose to make a gift to MSU Denver students through Elevate, they make a significant impact on the projects they support. Whether you fund endowed scholarships or help send a group of students to a conference, supporting a crowdfunding project on Elevate transforms lives!

Elevate the impact of your dollar today by supporting a crowdfunding project on Elevate. For more information, contact Bre Milnes at or 303-605-5464.


$2 million from Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center increases impact

By Traci McBee Rowe

In 2012, through a unique public/private partnership, MSU Denver and Sage Hospitality built an on-campus, full-service learning laboratory – the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center (HLC). Located at the corner of Speer Boulevard and Auraria Parkway, the complex includes: a fully functioning, professionally managed 150-room hotel, the Marriott SpringHill Suites Denver Downtown at MSU Denver; The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Conference Center; an academic building and learning laboratory comprised of 30,000 square feet of academic space that includes a light sensory analysis lab for wine, beer and spirits classes, a 72-seat restaurant, a 4,000-bottle wine cellar management lab, a high-tech food demonstration theater, a tourism lab and an events lab.

The success of this partnership inspired HLC@Metro, Inc. – a separate not-for-profit corporation and discretely presented component unit of MSU Denver that owns and manages the property – to contribute $2 million to the MSU Denver Foundation. The Foundation reserved $1 million to assist with the creation of the new School of Hospitality, Events and Tourism (HEaT). The Foundation designated the other $1 million as a matching gift meant to engage new donors.

The bulk of the matching gift created or grew scholarship funds, thus generating significant resources for MSU Denver students. The funds brought existing endowment principal balances up to the current minimum required ($25,000) and doubled the impact of donors who founded new annual and endowed funds. Additionally, approximately $150,000 established scholarships at area high schools – an effort tied to the University achieving federal designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).

“The matching gift was instrumental in connecting with new donors who have a passion for supporting our students,” says Gwen Thompson, senior director of development. “They were eager to make commitments knowing they would double their philanthropic impact.”

Matching gifts paved the way to raise over $3 million, with generous donors creating over 20 new annual and endowed scholarships. Gifts will support each of the colleges at MSU Denver, as well as the University’s priorities, including HSI, ASSET and DACA student support, and more.

The HLC@Metro, Inc., matching gift is transforming lives and making it possible for students to achieve the American dream of earning a college degree at MSU Denver.

For more information about supporting the Hospitality Learning Center, contact Steve Galpern at or 303-615-2043; to support HSI initiatives or scholarships, contact Gwen Thompson at or 303-615-2051.

Roadrunner and M Club Memberships set student-athletes on the road to success

By Lynne Winter

Metropolitan State University of Denver encourages its more than 200 student-athletes to dedicate themselves to victory on the field of play and in the classroom.

And they rise to the occasion.

MSU Denver has an inspiring history of athletic and academic achievements. Since 1996, the University has celebrated four NCAA team national championships, five individual national championships, 38 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament championships and 35 regular-season championships.

In January, Dr. Anthony Grant, director of athletics, named 89 student-athletes – all with a grade point average of 3.5 or above and 11 with a GPA of 4.0 – to the 2017 Fall Semester Athletic Director's Honor Roll – a department record.

"Educating student-athletes is at the heart of our mission at MSU Denver," says Dr. Grant. “We are proud of their accomplishments.”

Maintaining this level of excellence is possible because of Roadrunner Club and M Club memberships.  

The Roadrunner Club is a group of MSU Denver alumni, fans, and friends united in their passion for intercollegiate athletics. The M Club is an alumni group that keeps former Roadrunners connected to each other and the University, giving them the opportunity to mentor current Roadrunners and participate in student-athlete development programming.

Since July 2017, the 110 members of the Roadrunner Club and 39 members of M Club have contributed over $43,000 towards scholarships and programming for student-athletes.

"We appreciate the longstanding backing of our athletic programs by our alumni, as well as MSU Denver faculty and staff," says Dr. Grant.

Roadrunners Athletics is only able to award 65 percent of permissible NCAA scholarships to student-athletes. Club memberships provide access to additional funds, bridging the gap in support and ensuring that students have the best experience possible – including access to high-caliber competition and a comprehensive academic experience.

"The revenue generated from the Roadrunner Club and M Club memberships goes directly to scholarships and operations that enhance the overall experience of our student-athletes,” says Dr. Grant. “Becoming a member of the Roadrunner Club and M Club is an investment in our students and their future.”

For more information about supporting the Roadrunner Club or the M Club, contact John Kietzmann at 303-615-0538 or

Brewing scholarships at MSU Denver

By Lynne Winter

An innovative alumni relations program turns beer money into scholarships.

The beginning of a new semester is an exciting time for students, but it comes with a cost.

“I’ve maxed out my credit card three semesters in a row to pay for books,” explains Metropolitan State University of Denver student and Reach-a-Roadrunner Call Center caller/manager, Sierra Rakes (English, spring ’19). “It is stressful.”

MSU Denver students are hardworking and tenacious, but scholarships, grants and loans are not enough to pay for everything they need to be successful.

“I lost my full-time job last September,” says Ava Olmstead, another student and Reach-a-Roadrunner Call Center caller/manager. “I am worried about how I will make ends meet.”

It may not be possible to spin straw into gold, but MSU Denver Alumni Relations figured out how to support these students by turning beer money into scholarships.

The MSU Denver Mug Club, launched in February 2017, offers members the opportunity to support student scholarships in exchange for a lifetime membership that includes a custom mug, a standing invitation to monthly happy hour events and discounts on Tivoli Tap House beer.

The Mug Club recently celebrated its one-year anniversary having raised over $13,000 thanks to its 310 members. 

“Receiving this scholarship relieves so much pressure,” says Ava. “This semester, I was able to purchase all of my textbooks – I could not have done that without help from the Mug Club.”

The Mug Club’s next goal is to raise the necessary funds – $25,000 – to create the Mug Club Endowed Scholarship. As the Mug Club begins its second year, new club benefits have been added – the Mug Club Ambassador referral program, $2 off Tivoli specialty beers at any time, and the opportunity to purchase an exclusive Mug Club T-shirt. Proceeds from t-shirt sales will go directly towards establishing the endowed scholarship.

“In the past, I’ve thought about dropping out of school because of the cost,” says Sierra. “This scholarship makes a difference, and I am so thankful.”

For more information about the MSU Denver Mug Club, contact Brandi Rideout at or 303-605-5187.


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