May 2006 Notable Colorado State University Graduates Â?? Media Tip Sheet Â??


Although no one in Michael Nicolas’ family can attend graduation ceremonies, the top landscape design and contracting student can celebrate commencement because of extraordinary sacrifices he and his family have made. Born in New York, Nicolas lived in Bulgaria as a child. After his father died when he was 13, Nicolas’ mother and older brother felt that his American citizen status provided him the opportunity for an education that was important for him to pursue. His mother sold the family’s only car to buy a plane ticket from Bulgaria to Denver, sending Nicolas to the United States to finish high school and attend college at the age of 16. He arrived in America at 16 and lived with a Colorado host family.

Nicolas believes that attending Colorado State was the perfect choice for him, and since he enrolled, he has pushed his limits to succeed while working as much as 30 hours a week to pay for tuition.

"I believe not everybody around the world gets this opportunity," Nicolas said.  

He plans to visit his family in Bulgaria after graduation. In August, he will return to Colorado to pursue a master’s degree in landscape architecture. He hopes to eventually bring his family to the United States and to create opportunities for fellow Bulgarians.

To speak with Nicolas, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at (970)491-6009 or


Marc DeCarlo from Golden, Colo., is graduating with a degree in health and exercise science despite a severe automobile accident while in high school and being told he would never walk again. Not only does he walk, he is sought as a personal trainer who has the unique ability to inspire clients to reach their fitness goals, appreciate their health and live each day to its fullest. He has inspired others, including his own grandmother, to cope with tough times and health crises. Knowing from a young age that he wanted to attend Colorado State, DeCarlo is graduating in four years with plans to work with people of all ages to better their health and lives. Using his knowledge from Colorado State’s Department of Health and Exercise Science, DeCarlo is on his way to a healthy, productive and happy career.

To speak with DeCarlo, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or


Chau Pham graduates in chemical engineering with a bio-medical engineering concentration. Pham’s parents have successfully struggled to put Chau and her two sisters through college. Her father was imprisoned in a Communist concentration camp for seven years before the family left Vietnam. Pham was nine when the family arrived in Colorado poor and with no knowledge of English. Professor Gordon Smith describes Pham as extremely hard-working and dedicated. In addition to her chemical engineering studies, she was in charge of Engineering Days in 2005. She plans to pursue an MBA.

To speak with Pham, contact Emily Wilmsen at (970) 491-2336 or

FORMER LAWYER PURSUES LOVE OF SCIENCE                                                             

Michael Yourshaw is a non-traditional student graduating with a second bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and minors in chemistry and microbiology. After graduation, he will attend UCLA to pursue his Ph.D. in molecular, cellular and integrative life sciences. Yourshaw has always been keenly interested in science but grew up in a blue-collar family where he said this interest was neither understood nor valued. In the early 1960s, he attended Harvard University, studying Anglo-Saxon and Middle English. After a stint as an Air Force officer developing Internet-like computer systems, he graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. He worked as a lawyer, specializing in telecommunications law, and eventually became a partner in a prominent Washington, D.C., law firm. Although successful, he felt regrets about his career choice every time he opened an issue of Scientific American. Several years ago, a friend gave him a biology textbook as a birthday present, leading him to move to Fort Collins, determined to pursue his love of science.

To speak with Yourshaw, contact Emily Wilmsen at (970) 491-2336 or


Ellie Eschelbach is graduating with a degree in biological sciences and has been admitted into the veterinary medicine program this fall. Ellie was born with a rudimentary right arm, but has excelled academically and has not let this challenge prevent her from achieving her goal of becoming a veterinarian.

To speak with Eschelbach, contact Emily Wilmsen at (970) 491-2336 or


Sheena Martinez, a Colorado native, will be receiving her bachelor’s in sociology. This accomplishment is all the more impressive considering that she’s a first-generation Latina student. Given the obstacles that many minority first-generation college students face, Sheena has not only survived, but she has thrived in the academic setting, according to one of her professors, Lori Peek. When Sheena first arrived at Colorado State, she said she felt like a "fish out of water." However, she eventually found her footing on campus and has become a tremendous student leader. During her time at Colorado, Sheena has been active in various professional, extracurricular and volunteer activities, often working with economically and ethnically diverse communities. Her plans following commencement include working for the Colorado State Upward Bound Program that assists high-school students in developing the academic skills and motivation needed to successfully complete high school and enter college.

To speak with Martinez, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or


Nicholas Rancis, who is graduating with a degree in microbiology, has  persevered with a positive attitude and determination through injuries from a recent serious car accident. A May 2004 car accident fractured his neck in three places, leading to several surgeries to repair the damage and the use of a halo to immobilize his head during the summer. Rancis returned to school in the fall of 2004, although he was still healing from injuries and unable to turn his head. Rancis still has limited movement in his neck and some chronic pain. He is currently working at Accelr8, a biotechnology company in Denver and is designing an algae fermentation laboratory for a start-up company.

To speak with Rancis, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at (970)491-6009 or


Shaneika Williams is graduating with a degree in human development and family studies. She is also a wife and mother, having been married for three years in August to Colorado State football player Jerome Williams. They have a 2-year-old son. Williams is originally from Denver where she attended Montbello High School, where she met her husband. College was always a great aspiration for Williams, and she received a full scholarship from the Daniels Fund to attend college. She initially attended Hampton University in Hampton, Va. After her first year of college, she came back to Colorado for the summer, got married and found out she was pregnant. Shaneika and Jerome both had to make some important decisions about their future and decided that they had to continue their goals of attending college – at any cost. In July 2003, they received notice that they were both accepted to Colorado State University.

To speak to Williams, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or


Tamara Garcia is graduating with a double major in Spanish and journalism and plans to pursue a career as a court interpreter in the Denver area. She graduated from Denver’s Bishop Machebeuf High School after being awarded a Byrne Foundation Scholarship. She studied abroad in Monterrey, Mexico, last summer and has been very active in the Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority, serving as president for two years. Garcia has been a valued work-study student employee in Colorado State’s Office of International Programs for four years. Her brother had a serious automobile accident last fall, but in spite of everything, she has continued to be active and positive and a great role model. Garcia’s father came to Colorado from Mexico, and her mother was born in the United States. They are a very active family in offering support to people who are homeless and less fortunate in the Denver area.

To speak with Garcia, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or


Tara Peterson is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in natural resource recreation and tourism. Originally from Galesburg, Ill., Peterson has been active in college clubs, events and activities. This year, Peterson served as president of the student College Council and is speaking at the Warner College commencement ceremony. She has been president of the Colorado State student chapter of the National Association for Interpretation Recreation as well as an active member of the Colorado State chapter of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. Last summer, Peterson spent five weeks attending a study abroad hospitality program in Switzerland and will further her education by attending graduate school at the University of Surrey in London. Peterson is described as a caring, energetic and talented student with exceptional leadership skills who will no doubt succeed in her worldly pursuits.

To speak with Peterson, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or


Kevin Selvy is graduating with a business degree in finance and real estate. Selvy served on the Interfraternity Council for three years and is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Selvy was IFC president during part of the 2004-2005 school year. Mark Koepsell, director of Greek Life, said Selvy is probably the most talented IFC president he has worked with in his 15 years of advising. Selvy successfully beat 700 applicants for a job with a San Francisco-based financial company.

To speak with Selvy, contact Emily Wilmsen at (970) 491-2336 or