1990s Memories

NEW! GROOMED FOR SUCCESS, by Steve Schwartz, '92

I came to Durango in the late 80's to live in the mountains and to continue my education as a non-traditional student at Fort Lewis College.  My schedule was simple - classes and homework during the week, and outdoor adventures on the weekends.  But it's my professors that I remember most vividly.  Their passion for teaching and learning was invigorating.  They knew their students and truly cared about the success of each and every one. 

One of my professors, Dr. Roy Cook, asked me to be a student representative on a committee that was preparing for an upcoming AACSB re-accreditation.  One of the roles that I was to take on was conducting a community focus group.  I was VERY nervous about speaking in public, but Dr. Cook assured me I could do it.  In preparation for the event, I cut off my ponytail and shaved my beard.  The event was a success, though I'm not sure the "grooming" had much to do with it!

SERIOUS SNOW, by Jeff Ball, '93

One of the most memorable moments at Fort Lewis College during my tenure as Student Body President during the 1992-1993 academic year incorporates many of the elements of my collegiate experience: a cohesive student body, responsive faculty members, an administration led by Dr. Joel Jones that genuinely cared for the students, and…lots of snow.  Serious amounts of snow.
I had taken my girlfriend Debbie (now my wife) to see “Lethal Weapon 3” in the auditorium in the fine arts building on a Sunday evening.  The next morning, I awoke to news that the auditorium roof had collapsed, due to the weight of snow, snow that melted and refroze into a sheet of ice, and more snow.  (Did I mention that there were serious amounts of snow?)  Thank God that no one was in the auditorium when it happened.  However, we still had a problem.  Snow and ice needed to be removed from several of the other roofs to prevent them from collapsing.  The administration building was a concern; if the roof collapsed over the two-story glass wall at the east end of the building, it could send glass shards as far as the Miller Student Center.  For the safety of the students, campus was closed for several days.  Several students elected to help with the snow removal, and we thanked them by making barrelful after barrelful of hot chocolate.
The dilemma that faced us was how we would make up the lost class time.  The obvious solution was to cancel or shorten Spring Break, but so many of the students and faculty had already made plans.  Joel, Bill, Betty and I met to see if we could come up with any other options, and agreed to host a school-wide forum to see what other solutions were available.  I was surprised when I walked into the gym the morning of the meeting to see hundreds of students and faculty members in the bleachers.  If I recall correctly, we had to pull out the bleachers on the visitor’s side to accommodate everyone.  The forum ran smoothly, several thoughtful ideas were proposed, and most importantly, everyone was actively participating in resolving the problem.  We were able to find a solution that worked for everyone – the school would satisfy the number of instructional hours needed, and we still got to keep our Spring Break.
This event was memorable because of how it illustrates my entire experience at Fort Lewis College and I’m ever thankful for the privilege of serving such a close, responsive student body, interacting with accessible and understanding faculty members, and following such a dynamic, unbiased leadership team.


As a student at Fort Lewis College, I became almost immediately involved in the Environmental Center upon my arrival as a transfer student in 1996. I had spent the previous summer working for the Sierra Club and learned a lot about forest issues. The EC gave me the tools I needed to use my knowledge and my passion to make a difference. We raised awareness about environmental issues on campus and worked on a wide range of issues from forest conservation to recycling and air pollution.  Not too long into my involvement in the EC, I was encouraged by a member of the student government to run for student senate. After serving on Senate for a year I decided to run for Student Body President. My experience for the next two years as Student Body President led to a career in Democratic politics and opportunities to work on the Democratic convention, meet Vice President Gore, and eventually work in Washington for over seven years. But I am most grateful for how the experience shaped me as a person. Through these student leadership roles and responsibilities, I learned that you can actually make a difference on this issues you care about. Whether it was gathering signatures in support of sustainable design for the new Student Life Center, or serving as the student representative to the State Board of Agriculture, or gathering with other students across the state in Denver to advocate on behalf of higher education, we did just that- we made a difference through standing up for what we believed in.  I am so proud of being a graduate of Fort Lewis College, a place that truly fosters student leadership and self-empowerment.

GEOLOGY FIELD TRIP ADVENTURE, by Rob Blair, Professor of Geology Emeritus

Most of our field trips led us north from campus up the Animas Valley. During this time there was an old wooden Fort used as a tourist attraction located just north of the present glider airfield. It could have come straight from a Hollywood oater. With time it developed a tilt and looked out-of-place in the valley. On one trip in a 12-passenger van students had finished a lively discussion of the “ugly” fort and after a long pause a lone voice piped up in the back from our only Native American geology major “Nothing a flaming arrow couldn’t take care of”. The van erupted in laughter.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU JOKE ABOUT, by Bryant Liggett, '98

I came to Fort Lewis as a non-traditional student in 1996. The reason for my enrollment was simple; the place had a killer radio station, I liked the music they played, and I wanted to be a part of it. I figured everything else would fall into place, which it eventually did. I transferred in, struggled through some classes I wasn’t interested in, and excelled in what I was interested in. Now my only college experiences prior to the Fort was a couple years at a huge community college outside Washington D.C. The fact that my classes had 20 to 30 people in them, with some professors the same age as me, well, it made my whole experience quite comfortable. Add in the fact that I could get credit for doing stuff at KDUR, well that was the topper.

My final semester I wrote a screenplay for independent study.  It was about a handful of interesting characters that worked at a small, college and community radio station, and much of the humor in the poorly written screenplay I lived.  I joked about being the manager of that station one day, and now I am.

LOVE AND LOURDES, by Shirena Trujillo Long, '00

When I think about my four years as a student at Fort Lewis College from 1996-2000, I carry so many fond memories of exploring new places and people and countries. But, surely the most impactful memories revolve around playing in the mountains, discovering my Chicana cultural identity as a Spanish major, and meeting my husband who I’ve known for 14 years, married 10 years ago and now have a two-year-old daughter with.

It’s easy for me to remember how I met Clay because we had two classes together in one semester: Music Appreciation and Introductory Spanish. He sat in the back; I sat in the front. He struggled with the language stuff; I loved showing off my newly acquired Costa Rica Spanish skills. He wanted some help in Spanish, I needed a partner to go to those 6 required musical events that semester and he was a really nice guy.  And, his first question to me was: do you ski? It was a match made in heaven!

Or- should I say a match made in professor Senora Lourdes Carrasco's Spanish 116 class in the second semester of my freshman year of college in 1997? The classroom was downstairs in Reed Library and Senora Carrasco was by far one of my favorite professors at the Fort. Even now she likes claiming that the love bug bit us in her classroom that year! Senora Carrasco was originally from Hermosillo, Mexico, and was my first Chicana professor EVER! She helped me learn the Chicano history movement; she helped me improve my Spanish by learning little rhymes and Spanish lullabies that I can now sing with my daughter Lastani. She was advisor to the Spanish Club that I was president of. She watched me and my then-boyfriend grow up and have a kid together. Senora Carrasco loves to say that she ‘matched’ up my husband Clay and I in her class. She helped give Clay some Spanish credits to come visit me in Spain much later when I was an exchange student there. We aren’t too religious, but we know how symbolic a godmother or madrina is in a young Latina girl’s life. So- we all joke that Lourdes is Lastani’s madina. Lourdes says she looks just like Clay and her Spanish comment to describe Lastani still gets used a lot today: “Clay Femenina!” (It’s a feminine version of Clay!)

LEADERSHIP FROM WITHIN, by Jennifer Stark, '97

I was a new student meeting with Joel Jones. I was serving an AmeriCorps term of service in parallel with my academic career here at the school. Part of my service was to update, inform and engage the upper administration as to the good work students at Fort Lewis were contributing to the community at large. The meetings would occur maybe once or twice every few months. Each time I came to visit, Joel would invite me in. After we would get courtesies out of the way he would pull out his wallet and hand me a few dollars and would tell me to go on down and get myself a hot chocolate. Now, I know I was college level, and for sure I won’t disclose my age at the time- but there was something so magical about the President buying you a hot chocolate and then settling in to hear what you had to say. I clearly remember during these meetings that he would mentor me on appropriateness, effective communication, possible next steps. He always claimed importance in this activity as his number one management belief was that you could foster all the necessary leadership from within. I took this to heart and still manage by it to this day. I believe that with enough meetings, dialogue and communication we have the strength, intelligence and asset in our area to foster the type of leadership necessary right from here for our needs.


I came to Fort Lewis in 1990 to join the Anthropology faculty.  The location of the College within striking distance of Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde and Canyon of the Ancients makes it an ideal place to teach southwest archaeology in general, and field archaeology in particular.  In 1998 the field school, under my direction, was scheduled to conduct excavations at the Pigg site, some 8 miles west of Pleasant View, Colorado.  Located next to the Lowry Ruin, one of the largest prehistoric communities in southwest Colorado, the Pigg site is a very important archaeological site and Fort Lewis is fortunate to be able to conduct research there. The site had been donated to the College by Roy and Judy Crow, both of whom attended the Old Fort Lewis school in Hesperus and had a strong emotional attachment to the college, and a long-standing interest in archaeology. 
Usually a lot of careful thought and consideration goes into the selection of a site for excavation by field school students.  Archaeological excavation is, after all, a destructive process, and one must insure that accurate documentation of materials recovered is attained by the students as they learn field techniques.  Such deliberation had been involved in the selection of the Pigg site for the 1998 season.  However, on May 29th, a series of extraordinary events led us to abandon the Pigg site.  My colleague Mona Charles and I had set up a campsite for the field school students on a canyon edge near the Lowry area, and we were beginning the task of organizing them into field crews, laying out excavation grids, and demonstrating excavation techniques.  We had a good group of students and were looking forward to the next six weeks of field school instruction.  That, however, was not to be, since on May 29th the situation turned really bad.  Three “survivalists,” fully armed with automatic weapons and dressed in camouflage fatigues, commandeered a water truck and drove through Cortez, where they shot and killed Officer Dale Claxton of the city police force.  They then headed toward Utah, seriously wounding two other police officers in their path and destroying a number of police vehicles.  The Pigg site and the field school campground lay between Cortez and southeast Utah and could well have been directly in the path the fugitives might select.  Thus as Mona Charles was beginning field school instruction that day, patrolmen and police officers suddenly appeared and ordered her and the students to leave the site immediately.  They would not even let the students return to their campsite, instead ordering everyone to evacuate the area completely.  Thus began one of the largest manhunts ever in SW Colorado.  It was several days before the students were allowed back to the campsite area to retrieve their belongings.  A week later one of the fugitives was found dead near Bluff, Utah.  Another body was found four months later, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the third fugitive’s remains were discovered.
Since it was clear the field school could not be held at the Pigg site that season, the students were moved back to Durango where, fortunately, the landowner of a site in the north Animas valley allowed them to begin excavation at a location where human remains had been discovered.  This turned out to be a very important archaeological site, dating between 800 BC and 600 AD and, through the willingness and patience of the landowner, served as the location of the FLC field school for a number of years to come.  So things were worked out for the students in 1998, in spite of the tragic series of events that occurred in May.
I guess the lesson to be learned is that no matter how carefully and studiously a site is selected for excavation, the archaeologist in charge must be flexible and ready to change plans at a moment’s notice.  Either that or require that along with their trowels and shovels, all field school students pack side arms while digging (probably not the most judicious of solutions).


I was originally an architect major.  As part of my general requirements I decided to take Introduction to Sociology with Dr. Dennis Lum.  One day in class he had assigned a book for us to read but none of us had read it.  It made him so angry that he started yelling, swearing and picked up one of those small student desks and threw it about 8 feet across the room! Then he walked out.  Some people left but most of us stayed for the remaining 45 minutes.  He never returned. I was enamored and inspired by this teacher who had so much passion for what he was doing.  That certainly was not true of my drafting classes.  I had no idea what I was getting into but it changed my life and my major. 

At the time I owned a landscaping company.  In one of the many Sociology classes I was taking, we were reading about other cultures and their farming practices.  I decided that’s what I wanted to do with my life, own a farm and start a Community Supported Agriculture farm (CSA).  So, I did some research and talked to Peach Valley CSA in Glenwood Springs.  The first thing he asked was, do you have a farmer’s market there?  No.  He was surprised and told me that’s what we needed first.  Okay then.   I decided to take an independent study class for a semester with Dennis and did a feasibility study on Farmers Markets in La Plata County.  I traveled to farmer’s markets all over and talked with several local farmers who were super enthusiastic.  Normally, the Sociology Practicum is designed for students to work for a non-profit.  In my case, I decided to create a farmer’s market instead.  That first year we had 5 local farmers at the base of Chapman Hill.  I set up a booth and sold donated baked goods and coffee as a way to raise money for the fledgling organization. The following year the market moved to the Smiley Building parking lot and after three years out grew it.  It then moved to downtown and continues to grow.  I got an A in the class and the community got a farmer’s market.  This is just one more way that the town and the college benefit each other.

AC./B.C, by Rochelle Mann, Professor Emerita Department of Music, '85-'08

All of my memories at Fort Lewis College tend to fall into 2 categories:  B. C. – before the collapse of the Fine Arts Auditorium and A. C. – after the roof caved in.  My most vivid memory is of the January morning in 1993 when safety personnel allowed me to don a hard hat in order to retrieve faculty members’ instruments from the perimeter of the building.  I was completely overwhelmed by the utter devastation I saw, yet thankful beyond belief that the collapse occurred just a few short hours before 200 of our music appreciation students were scheduled to be in class.  Although our department was homeless for much of that term, we were heartened by the amazing level of support given to us from the campus and local communities. I can barely describe the reaction I had when I walked on the stage of the concert hall for the first time.  I was completely struck by how our tragedy had been transformed into a cause for celebration, and I still experience that feeling at the end of every symphony concert.

WOMB SERVICE, by Michael Rendon, Student Constructed Major in Population Studies, '00

My memories of being a student at Fort Lewis College invariably lead me back to the womb.  I was doing a self constructed major through the Sociology Department as part of the block program on Population Studies.  In February of 1997, Liza Tregillus of the La Plata Coalition on Teenage Pregnancy announced her idea to fly a hot air balloon of a baby over Durango while flooding the media with information on unplanned pregnancies.  I was hooked and joined forces to help. 
That baby did fly but the main event really was the womb.  A 30' long, 15' wide, and 20' high inflatable belly that tour guides would lead people through was affectionately referred to as the "class womb."  

There were three stages, in the area Pre Womb participants confronted questions about sex like:  is this the right person? right time? right place? right for me in general? and found information on abstinence and birth control.  In the womb itself the story was told of how the mother's habits would affect the baby (nutrition, STDs, fetal alcohol syndrome, cigarettes). And finally the outcome which included information about the cost of having and raising a child, adoption, and the impacts of overpopulation on our world.

That womb toured all over Colorado and I believe had a great impact on those who experienced it, as all great wombs do.

OH SAY CAN YOU E.C., by Nathan Ballenger, '01

The land of liberal arts and academia provides many avenues for the young adult to seek knowledge and find avenues to success in life. I entered Fort Lewis College with an interest to do good in the world. As for academia, I choose to join the sciences, Biology and Chemistry in particular. Though I was offered a fantastic education in these subjects, it was not nearly enough to fulfill my curiosity and desire to learn how to be a part of society. That is where the average college student stops at the fork and looks in all directions for something extra-curricular to satiate their interest of becoming a productive adult. 

At Fort Lewis, the fork in the road exists at the Clock Tower.  If you head in one direction, you can find the Native American Center, in another you can land yourself in the Small Business Development Center, if you follow the smell, you may find a party to learn about lots of interesting aspects of society.  In the mid 90’s, if you headed to the top of the Student Union Building to an attic like space next to the radio waves of KDUR, you could find the nest of the Environmental Center. 

The Environmental Center (EC) is where the students who loved the outdoors, never hesitated to hug a bunny if given the chance, and didn’t mind getting weeds in their hair and mud in their finger nails would go.  Seriously, the EC attracted a rare species of students that wanted to preserve the wild spaces in the world, at a cost.  Don’t get me wrong, it was not the underground meeting place for Earth First!, but it was the closest thing we could have, and still stand a chance to stay in school, with a clean criminal record.  Actually, not everyone in the EC had a clean record.  But, most had a clean conscience, as they spent their extra- curricular time having organized meetings about being an environmentalist.  For some that meant, activist, for some it meant advocate, some it meant herbal-ist, and for others, it was a welcoming community of smiling faces.

The EC smelled of body odor and fresh food. The students and staff that met in the small sanctuary had a passionate interest in learning about the environment and what it took to preserve it in an age where sustainability, recycling, energy efficiency were just making their way on to the public stage.

For me, I found a place to learn about consensus, organizing people, community, taking good notes, and how to conduct an action around protecting wild life and wild places. I was quickly voted into the ranks of the EC Board of Directors (ECBOD), and took a paid job as assistant coordinator to our fearless leader, Beth Richman.  Beth was the second paid coordinator of the EC, and was damn good at her job.  She whipped us in to shape, showing us how to work hard, be organized, get information, and take detailed and copious notes. I learned about what an organized group looks like, how it can work efficiently and effectively, and how a small group of committed people can make real change against incredible odds. 

The EC was not just an extra-curricular activity, nor was it a place to escape. The EC was a place to learn about how interconnected the world is, and how to participate in the world. It grew many friendships, it created paid jobs, it held the college accountable for its environmental behavior, and it became a major landmark on the FLC campus. 

Today, FLC has an environmental minor (maybe even a major), a full fledged recycling program, certified sustainable structures built with millions of “green” dollars, a rich student run garden, a nationally recognized center, all due to a small group of committed individuals who came together to create positive change. Every year, the baton is handed off to new students who have similar passion, and a need to satiate their desire to vote “yes” for the environment, whether that means voting in the polls, calling a government representative, staging a peaceful protest or chaining one’s self to a tree! The EC was hands down, the best experience I had in my 5 years at FLC! 

FIRST IMPRESSION, by Kristin Lortie, '94

I went to Fort Lewis College sight unseen. When I was considering the college, I had this great feeling, though, because every time I spoke to someone about Durango, their eyes would light up. Everyone was so consistently encouraging about Fort Lewis and the town that for some reason, I wasn’t nervous about it. I started in January after taking a semester off after high school and I remember very clearly driving into town at night with my parents, who were taking me to college. The town was lit up and you could see the lights reflecting off the snow. I saw then that I was going to be in an amazing place. It was a powerful first impression and although there were still a lot of unknowns, it was really encouraging to be moving somewhere so beautiful. I remember looking out my window as we pulled into town, thinking: This is going to be cool.

TEACHING WITHOUT WORDS, by Chyako Hashimoto, '94

The most influential teacher I had at Fort Lewis College was David Hunt, an Art professor who taught Ceramics and Sculpture for many years.  When I first walked into the Ceramics studio (it was called Art Annex back then), I was still a sophomore.   There were potters wheels, sculpted torsos, and all kinds of ceramic work in progress in that room.  Students came and went, working on their own projects.  My English was still challenged back then, and I did not understand everything everyone said.  I did my best to follow instructions, but I was sort of lost all the time.  I thought wheel throwing would be easy, but it was so hard.  At one point, I got so discouraged I skipped classes for about two weeks.  When I returned, David said hello to me but didn’t talk about how I have been gone.  I set to work, and though I still couldn’t center, I started to get to know David better as a teacher.  There was something different about him from any other teachers.  He was fascinating to talk to.  Everyone was always on fire about assignments because he would weave them into such interesting stories.  He gave us space to work and be ourselves.  Here, I learned that even though I couldn’t express myself well with words, I could express myself with clay, and there was someone who saw it and appreciated it.  He asked me questions about Japan, and he was interested in me as a person as well as a beginning artist.  He praised and understood my work.  It was like he saw who I was before I knew who I was.  He would make a sound “Ooohhh!” when he saw a piece that touched him.  It was the best encouragement one could have.

It still amazes me that I turned out to be a potter and a teacher.  I own a studio in town, and enjoy teaching and taking care of its members.  I see that I carry a lot of David with me and how he taught.  It’s important to me that I pay attention to the students as people and enjoy the relationship and connection that we make.  David turned out to be a lifelong friend, a father in this country, and I sometimes cry just sitting in front of him.  I know he is proud of me, as he told me so many times.  I don’t know why that touches me so much, but it is like what I said before, I feel that he sees a beautiful person in front of him. 


It was by a strange series of coincidences, too numerous to detail here, that I was given access to the College expense account and charged with the care of two very curious persons. The first was Robert Anton Wilson, author of the classic Illuminatus! Trilogy, among other works challenging some of our commonly held assumptions about ‘reality’, and the other was Dr. Timothy Leary, a former Harvard research psychologist who’d pioneered studies into the effects of psilocybin & LSD in criminal rehabilitation and substance abuse treatment. This was back in the early 60’s when much of the shamanic pharmacopeia was still ‘legal’, but the work nevertheless led to his leaving the academic mainstream.

To make a long story short, Leary went on to become something of a counter-cultural icon, promoting, like Ken Kesey & his Merry Pranksters, the benefits of psychedelics to the rest of the country. Fearing the consequences of a populace suddenly ‘tuning in, turning on & dropping out’, laws were quickly passed, prohibition enforced, etc., etc. Eventually, Tim was busted and sentenced to 20 years. But when given a psychological evaluation upon entering the California prison system, he answered questions to a test he’d co-authored years before. Subsequently placed in a minimum security prison, he soon escaped and remained a fugitive for several years before capture and imprisonment.

Through it all, he kept to a simple message: “Think for Yourself. Question Authority.”

It was a message he reiterated when the both of them spoke at Fort Lewis in the early 90’s as part of Dr. Leary’s promotional tour for a video entitled, “How to Operate your Brain” - basically a montage ‘essay’ on the value of sorting out humanity’s issues for ourselves instead of waiting for Big Brother to do it for us. I wish I could say the people in the audience ‘got it’, but when the Q&A portion of ‘the show’ began, pretty much every question was a variation of “What should we think?”

Being natural tricksters at heart, the both of them merely shrugged and tried other means of getting the message across, but eventually resorted to pranking the audience’s expectations and hoped thereby to plant a seed which would later bear fruit. Granted, I had the advantage of framing their discourse within the context of longer conversation and may, to this day, be the only person who got ‘the joke’.

In all, RAW and Dr. Leary taught me a very important lesson during their visit, one of great practical value in navigating the cultural marketplace of memes and creeds vying for our faith. Perhaps their reputations have waned somewhat since their passing, and fewer people seem to have heard of either, but at the time of their visit both were still regarded as ‘celebrities’ possessed with rare wit and ‘forbidden knowledge’. As a result, they were frequently bombarded with questions wherever they went. Yet, rather than answer such inquiries outright, they would ask for the definitions of the words phrasing them. It was a process of leading anyone seeking ‘answers’ into realizing they possessed them already. The question then became one of reflecting upon one’s own assumptions.

Have you?


Straight out of high school, I moved from a small town in Pennsylvania to Steamboat Springs - sight unseen - to become a ski bum.  I worked as a lift operator in the winter and in a bike shop in the summer.  Whenever I could, I was skiing.
So, when I decided to go to Fort Lewis, I wanted to become a better skier, so I went out for the ski team.  I ended up skiing on the team for three years, which was a club sport at the time.  It was a great time.  Skiing at Purgatory is a fun local experience, and being a part of a team with a bunch of talented athletes was just fun.  John Brennan was an excellent coach.  We worked with Dale Womack, who was a former member of the U.S. Ski Team for speed-skiing.  It was a unique opportunity to work with world-class athletes.

The experience taught me a lot about time management, which can be an issue in a place like Durango!  All the way down the line - the beauty of the place is what brings the students and the professors and everybody else here.  It's an amazing place to be.  I'm an avid outdoorsman and I love to hunt and fish and camp and mountain bike - in addition to skiing.  For ski team, we skied Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and all day on Saturday.  One semester I juggled three jobs, ski team and 18 credits.  There was not one moment to spare, but somehow, I learned to make it happen.  If you ditch class to ski on a powder day, you study late another day.

Some of my best memories of Fort Lewis are piling into my 1972 Land Cruiser, riding up to Purgatory.  It didn't have a top, so I can remember driving in a snow storm with ski goggles on.

AN EYE FOR ART(ISTS), by Chris Erickson '94

When I look back at my time at Fort Lewis, my first basic design class with John Thomas was really important.  It was my first semester there and I was 18 years old, pretty unconfident and brand new to college.  One day after class he pulled me aside and asked me what my major was.  I told him, undeclared, and he said, "You're an art major now."  He told me I did amazing work, that I had a great eye, that I was producing the best work in the class.  It took me by surprise.  But from that day forward, I saw myself as an artist.  That was important for me.  I had no idea what I wanted to do and didn't realize that art was a viable career path until he told me that it was.  I didn't know that my work was any good - in fact, I figured it was fairly ordinary.  But John made me feel like I had something, that I had a reason to be a bit more confident.  It was absolutely a turning point in my life.

THE SECURITY BEAT, by Meghan Graham, '98

I'll always remember the process of starting to narrow down my major while I was at Fort Lewis.  It was when I first began working for The Independent.  I'd never done any news writing before and we'd sit in these practicum classes and I was so intimidated by my peers reading what I was writing.  I had to interview the head of security, Joe Walcott, and I was completely nervous and self conscious the entire time.   Afterward, we did these critiques and I got a lot of really great feedback.  And I was like, "Well, that wasn't that hard!"  It was a big moment for me.  Here was something that seemed fun, not all that hard, and I learned that I wasn't that bad at it.

The funny thing was that I became the security reporter at Fort Lewis.  All my interviews were with Joe Walcott, and my proud parents kept asking me, "Don't you talk to anyone else on campus?"  For whatever reason, I was doing a good job on the stories about campus security so I kept getting assigned to those stories.  It seemed like I was hanging out with Joe Walcott all the time!

ODE TO HESPERUS HALL, by Lisa Kelloff, '98

I fondly remember Hesperus Hall.  It was this really old building that was the most comfortable place to spend your days as a student.  It had couches and chairs throughout this wide hallway - on one side were the professor's offices and classrooms, and on the other side were all of these sitting areas. it was so cozy.  Friends and classmates would always meet out there between classes.  Looking back, I smile at this because we could have gone anywhere - the CUB, outside, the library - but this was the place we all wanted to be.

But the part that is really memorable for me is the interactions with professors out in those common areas.  I can't tell you how many times professors would see us out there working and come out of their offices and make themselves available.  They knew we were working on something assigned, or that we had a deadline for their class, and they graciously would come out, pull up a chair, and talk to us about it.  It was so wonderful.  They really were there for you.  They were a true part of your success - and you knew that going into the class, too.  It was an unbelievable thing to see- you'd find professors out there in these little study groups.  It was not something you'd experience at another college.  They made themselves a part of it all.

When I heard they tore Hesperus Hall down, I was totally heartbroken!  I know it was old and probably dangerous in a lot of ways, but I just loved that building!  It had so much character and heart and there was this warm, comfortable feeling about it.  It was just home.

One time recently, I was at Fort Lewis and I walked through the new building and although it is very nice and impressive and I'm sure the professors love their new offices and the students love the updated building - I thought, "I'm so glad I didn't go to class in this building!"  I knew and loved the older building.  It was just so special.

I always tell people that besides the business school accreditation- which didn't matter at the time but I appreciate now - that access was the thing I loved about Fort Lewis the most. That's Fort Lewis's niche - they're an accessible college.  They are personable. The professors believe in the students' success to a greater degree than you might find elsewhere.  That made the experience fun.

FINAL HOMECOMING, by Quanah Spencer, '98

I remember Homecoming 1997, my last year at Fort Lewis, very well.  There was this nostalgic atmosphere, and I remember thinking, When I come back here for Homecoming next, I won’t be a student.  I won't be entrenched in the college like I am now…I'll have a job.  I'll be living somewhere else.  It was very reflective.  It was the last time I was together with all of my friends and their families.  We all went to dinner together, then to the game.  That was a really happy and fond memory for me.  All the activities that were happening during Homecoming - the huge bonfire they used to have, the parade, the community all coming together.  One of the coolest parts was how the city turned out.  That was so great.  The people of Durango were charged up and totally excited.  The community was involved and there was this outpouring of support for Fort Lewis.

STUDENT GOVERNMENT, by Heidi (Van Huysen) Baskfield, Political Science, '98

Throughout my high school experience at Ponderosa I was very involved with sports and extra-curricular activities. I wasn’t a strong enough athlete to play college level sports but I still wanted engagement with student life beyond the classroom at Fort Lewis.  I gravitated toward the student government after being really impressed with the amount of influential activities this group organized and implemented on campus. As a result of my time on student government I was directly exposed to making critical decisions that affected student life. This work poised me to start a successful career two days after graduation with a job I can directly attribute to my student government work. While on student government, I was able to work with the College administration as well as Colorado’s lawmakers at the local, state and federal level.  I was able to travel and take part in a national student leadership movement that sent me to New York, Washington D.C., Arizona, New Mexico and Florida. Student government gave me the chance to engage in executive level decision-making that elevated my appeal to employers beyond anything I anticipated. Along with several of my student government colleagues, some of whom are now holding political office, I found the time I spent with other student leaders who were up to accomplishing big things as having a lifelong significant and positive impact.