Media Tip Sheet: May 2008 Outstanding Graduates at Colorado State University

Note to Editors: Photos of the students are available with the news release at

Monfort Scholar, double major works with range of marine mammals

Throughout his college career, Matt Lenyo spent as much time outside working with sea animals at zoos as he did inside classrooms at Colorado State University. Lenyo, 22, will graduate this week with a double major in biology and theater. The Monfort Scholar was one of four students chosen for the scholarship honor in his freshman class. During his academic career, he served internships at the Denver Zoo and the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash. During his internships, Lenyo observed and learned a wide range of marine mammal training and handling techniques. After working with sea lions, walruses and beluga whales, Lenyo hopes to one day pursue a career involving marine mammals. In addition to being a Monfort Scholar, he was a member of the Peer Mentor team for the Colorado State Honors Program for two years. To speak with Lenyo, contact Kimberly Sorensen at (970) 491-0757 or

Disability doesn’t slow top student, competitive swimmer

Jonathan Fidrych will graduate with a degree in electrical engineering and a minor in mathematics despite a hearing impairment that never slowed him down. Fidrych developed hearing loss early in life that has progressively worsened. He wears two hearing aids. He attended class with the help from sign language interpreters and other services supplied by Colorado State University’s Resources for Disabled Students. Fidrych is a competitive swimmer and competed in the 2005 Summer Deaflympics in Melbourne, Australia, as one of only six male swimmers on the team. During college, he was a member of two engineering honor societies, and he received numerous scholarships: the Colorado Distinguished Scholar Award, the Rocky Mountain Electric League and the Larimer County Federal Executive Association. Fidrych worked as an intern for Western Area Power Administration gaining an experience in the power and transmission industry. His academic and professional goals include obtaining a graduate degree. To speak with Fidrych, contact Emily Wilmsen at (970) 491-2336 or

Engineering student persists despite working on same degree twice

Richard Ortecho earned the same engineering degree – twice. Ortecho, a mechanical engineering graduate, earned his first engineering degree overseas, but found it didn’t meet engineering standards in the United States. After working as a mechanic supervisor in a gold mine in Peru for six years, he and his family immigrated to the United States so he could attend school. Because he could not speak English, Ortecho attended community college so he could learn the language before he transferred to Colorado State University in 2004. As a non-traditional student, Ortecho, 34, supported his wife and 8-year-old son while attending school full time. During his college career, Ortecho has received the Distinguished First Generation Award and served as vice president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Even with English as his second language, Ortecho excelled in his field, earning a coveted internship with Caterpillar last summer, where he plans to work after graduation. To speak with Ortecho, contact Emily Wilmsen at (970) 491-2336 or

Warner College of Natural Resources student fluent in five languages

Jocelyn Johnson is graduating from Colorado State with a degree in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism with a concentration in global tourism. She is fluent in five languages including Turkish, Russian, French and Spanish. She has studied abroad in Turkey where she continued her studies of Spanish and Russian at Bosphorus University. She also participated in a short internship in Paris and a tourism internship at a luxury hotel in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where she spoke English, Turkish and Russian on a daily basis. At CSU, Johnson has also taken Arabic and French classes. Johnson said that she loves to see international students smile when she says "hello" in their language and she has enjoyed building cross-cultural relationships here at CSU. She has received the Human Dimensions in Natural Resources Department’s Arthur Wilcox scholarship all four years, and the faculty selected her for the JVK Wagar Honor Senior Award this year as the top graduating senior in the Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism major. Whether she will be doing a teaching assistantship in Spain or an internship in Lebanon, one goal is certain for Johnson: She wants to continue to improve her use of these languages to promote good communication in the world. To speak with Johnson, contact Kimberly Sorensen at (970) 491-0757 or

High school percussion director earns master’s degree

Shilo Stroman is graduating this May with his master’s degree in percussion performance from Colorado State. Stroman is the director of percussion at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins and former director of Jazz and Percussion at Mountain View High School in Loveland. Fossil Ridge High School received fourth place at the annual high school state marching band competition in fall 2007. Stroman is an active performer on drumset, vibraphone and bass guitar. He performs as a section percussionist with the Fort Collins Symphony, the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cheyenne Symphony. While at CSU, Stroman had the opportunity to perform a duet with Anders Astrand, an internationally known mallet artist. To speak with Stroman, contact Kimberly Sorensen at (970) 491-0757 or

Former competitive skier plans to go to veterinary school

After seven years on the slopes and several knee surgeries, competitive free-style skier Lori Testa, 40, retired from the sport she loved and enrolled at Colorado State University. Being 20 years removed from high school, re-acclimating to academics was a bit of a challenge. Prior to college, Testa was on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team and also a Tae Kwon Do black belt, which brought her to the Summer Olympic trials in 2000. As a student at Colorado State, Testa worked 30 hours a week at a martial arts school and at a veterinary clinic while studying microbiology. After obtaining her degree in microbiology, Testa will continue her studies this fall at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State. Because of her past knee surgeries, she hopes to one day go into small animal orthopedics. To speak with Testa, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at (970) 491-6009 or at

Former tennis pro graduates summa cum laude

Before Alyssa Cohen was a student at Colorado State University, she was a professional tennis player. Now with graduation nearing, Cohen, 25, is preparing for the next challenge in her life – medical school. As a professional tennis player, Cohen played at the U.S. Open and represented the United States in several international competitions during her three-year career. In five years on the junior circuit, she was ranked as high as No. 11. Following her retirement from professional tennis, Cohen enrolled at Colorado State where she studied microbiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and became an assistant coach for the women’s tennis team. Between coaching players, attending classes and assisting in a molecular genetics laboratory, Cohen found time to enjoy her college years with friends. She will graduate summa cum laude and will attend the University of Colorado Medical School this fall. Cohen is working toward a career in pediatrics. To speak with Cohen, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at (970) 491-6009 or at

CSU Student Employee of the Year helps other students with math

Bailey Draper, CSU’s Student Employee of the Year, is graduating with a degree in mathematics and statistics and a minor in computer science. Draper is the winner of this year’s Campus Student Employee of the Year and State of Colorado Employee of the Year as a Student Paraprofessional in Undergraduate Retention Programs for the College of Natural Sciences. She has worked for two years as a tutor in Ingersoll Tutorial Hall, a free service offered to all CSU students that includes tutoring in historically challenging math and science courses. She was charged with designing a curriculum to assist students in passing the Entry Level Mathematics test and facilitating a group of students with a computer-based math instruction program for college algebra. To speak with Draper, contact Kimberly Sorensen at (970) 491-0757 or

Math adds up for student headed to Cambridge after graduation

Ben Joeris will graduate magna cum laude with a double major in mathematics and computer science. After three years as a full-time undergraduate, Joeris has been accepted by Cambridge University into the prestigious Certificate of Advanced Study in Mathematics program at Trinity College at Cambridge and awarded a Trinity Studentship in Mathematics. Additionally, the Cambridge Overseas Trust has named Joeris as an Honorary Cambridge Overseas Trust Scholar, entitling him to be elected a Fellow of the Cambridge Overseas Society. While at CSU, he has published two papers about solutions he has found to two open problems from mathematics literature, one of which has been open for about 30 years. He has collaborated with professional mathematics researchers in the United States, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. In 2006, he was one of 48 international finalists – one of four Americans – in the World Championship round of the Topcoder Collegiate Challenge Algorithms and Programming competition. Joeris began taking courses in discrete mathematics and algorithms at CSU when he was a 16-year-old student at Fort Collins High School. He was quickly recognized as phenomenally talented and was moved into a 600-level graduate course that was primarily for doctorate students. He was the top student in that course. Joeris leaves for Trinity College in England in October. To speak with Joeris, contact Kimberly Sorensen at (970) 491-0757 or

Student makes personal sacrifices in quest to help others

Colorado State non-traditional graduate student Sue Guritz has made many sacrifices in her quest to empower people with disabilities find a higher quality of life and to have productive, satisfying days. Guritz, 48, who will graduate this month, left her home in Alaska in August of 2006 to study occupational therapy. She left behind her husband and her three children and a job at a local senior citizen service helping secure care and services for the elderly, and she missed the birth of her first grandchild. She has wanted to be an occupational therapist since she discovered the field several years ago, and she looks forward to helping people reach their goals. She will return to Alaska to complete her internships in the program in Fairbanks, where she’ll work at an early intervention center and a hospital. To speak with Guritz, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at (970) 491-6009 or

Broncos cheerleader helps entertain troops

Kelsey Vernon is graduating with a major in business marketing. As a Denver Broncos cheerleader for the past four years, Vernon has participated in four USO, or United Service Organizations, entertainment tours, traveling to Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar, Kuwait, Dubai, Japan, Guam, Italy, the Marshall Islands and Hawaii. Vernon also volunteered as a Junior Denver Broncos cheerleader instructor, teaching dance to girls ages 6 to 8. During her college career, Vernon held a marketing internship with Burns Marketing and made the Dean’s List in 2007 despite her heavy workload. After graduation, Vernon plans to explore event marketing opportunities in Arizona. To speak with Vernon, contact Emily Wilmsen at (970) 491-2336 or

Passion for Italian food, culture leads student down culinary path

Abigail Canfield, a restaurant and resort management major in the College of Applied Human Sciences, will embark to Italy shortly after graduation to follow her passion for Italian food. Canfield won a scholarship for the one-week trip at the end of May through the National Restaurant Association Foundation after competing against many students for the honor. To win, Canfield wrote an essay about her desire to share Italian food – and the celebrations Italians hold around their meals – with America, as well as to educate Americans that Italian food is more than just meatballs and lasagna. She’ll travel to restaurants, wineries and cheese factories on the trip. Canfield hopes to eventually open a restaurant embracing the fresh, healthy ingredients of Italian food and the Italian culture that encourages people to enjoy their meals and good company over a celebration of food and wine. Canfield will attend culinary school in Italy next spring. To speak with Canfield, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at or (970) 491-6009.

Portuguese student juggles full-time job, school work to earn degree

During her academic career at Colorado State University, Ines Marques da Silva, 31, juggled a full-time job, volunteer projects and homework. Born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal, Marques da Silva moved to the United States while in her 20s. Eventually, she ended up in Fort Collins, where she saw Colorado State as an "opportunity in the midst of difficulty." During her time at Colorado State, she worked long hours setting up banquets and conferences to pay for tuition and living expenses. After all her hard work, Marques da Silva will have her degree: She studied microbiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and hopes to acquire job experience in the field following graduation. To speak with Marques da Silva, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at (970) 491-6009 or