In 1988, the Deming family moved to Southwest Colorado. Lois Deming, a teacher at Bayfield Elementary, signed up for a class at Fort Lewis College, initiating a three-generation FLC legacy. Her eldest son, Bart, became an FLC student in 1991, followed by Brett in 1992, and the youngest, Brand, in 1997.
While FLC was special to all the Deming brothers, Brett would sink his roots deep into FLC, where he earned a Biology degree in 1997. A year later, he launched a career with the FLC Police Department and married fellow alumna, Amy Borsmann (Environmental Biology, ‘97), at McPherson Chapel. They’ve been married for 22 years.
Brett currently serves as Chief of Police for the FLC Police Department, while Amy works for Durango’s First National Bank (now TBK). The Demings’ 19-year-old daughter, Katie, is busy pursuing a degree in Elementary Education from FLC’s School of Education. Her 15-year-old sister, Emily, a sophomore at Bayfield High School, has no idea if she wants to be a veterinarian or a filmmaker but is already plotting her future as a Skyhawk.
By Natalia Sells
My name is Natalia Sells (Business Management, ‘18) and I am a second-generation Fort Lewis College alumna. My parents, Earlisa Sells (Student-Constructed Major, ‘06) and Leon Wheeler (Psychology, ‘06 and Student-Constructed Major, ‘07), started at FLC in 2004 when I was 10 years old.
Since we lived in Shiprock, New Mexico, my father commuted to Durango for his lecture classes every other day. Often, he would sleep in the family truck to save on gas and money. Sometimes he would take my siblings and me to the College, where he would reserve a corner window study hall room on the second floor of the Education Business Hall. I remember reading my book and looking out the window at the students changing classes. My younger sister, then three years old, sometimes sat with Dad in his lecture classes.
Prior to completing their degrees, my parents struggled to make ends meet. We witnessed firsthand how a college degree opens access to opportunities and financial stability. After graduating, my father worked as a history teacher at a local school and my mother’s pay grade increased. They were able to send us to a local college-prep high school, and through Dad’s job, we had health insurance. When they would go on their summer education trainings, we got to travel to different parts of the U.S.
After graduating from high school in 2014, I joined FLC as a full-time, ‘traditional’ student. With enough scholarships to afford my room and board, I was able to partake in campus culture. I graduated in 2018, debt-free, with my Business Administration degree and decided to pursue a career in higher education. My younger brother, Kyii Sells-Wheeler, started at FLC in Fall 2018, declaring a major in Engineering. After our dad, he is set to become the second man in our family to earn a bachelor’s degree. He has already been awarded multiple recognitions, like the Cobell Scholarship, Chief Manuelito Scholarship, and the American Indian Graduate Center Wells Fargo Scholarship.
Our family appreciates the affordability of Fort Lewis College and the opportunities higher education presents. Our parents’ story has made us appreciate the value of an education and how we can use it to help our own communities.
James Plate (Business Administration, '14) and Max Fields (Environmental Studies, '15) didn't expect to pursue careers as farmers and ranchers, but thanks in part to their education at Fort Lewis College—and their awesomely apt names—they're finding wild success in the local agriculture industry.
Cyclists know how to endure some good suffering and one of the toughest races may be a new quasi-informal competition in Colorado. The LeadBoat Challenge, a linkage of two well-known bike races, celebrated Sarah Sturm (Art, '12) and Payson McElveen (Exercise Science, ’16) with podium finishes last weekend.
Elise Boulanger (Studio Art & Design, '21) was featured in The Durango Herald for her curatorial work on the Center of Southwest Studies exhibit “Throughline: FLC Student Works Inspired by the Center’s Collections."
After graduating from Fort Lewis College, Darcy Peter (Environmental Biology, '17) returned to her home state of Alaska for a one-month Arctic research program. After a summer of field research on her homeland, Peter says she's found her dream job.
Aurum Labs, an alumni-owned cannabis testing facility in Durango, received a new certification through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to conduct hemp compliance testing for manufactured industrial hemp products. Fort Lewis College alumni account for nearly half of the employees at Aurum Labs, which is owned by Luke Mason (Chemistry, '05) and Liz Mason (Chemistry-Biochemistry, '05).
Ricardo Caté (Education, '06) received the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. The governor's awards celebrate the foundational role that artists, art, and supporters play in the state.