Stories from Volunteering with the Alumni & Friends Association
Cindy Bond is a two-time CU alumna. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from CU Boulder in 1982. In 1999, Bond completed her MBA (with an Information Systems focus) from UCCS. She chose to pursue an MBA at UCCS because of the selection of courses available, the affordability, and the familiarity of programs having already attended a CU institution. In 2022, she joined the UCCS scholarship application review volunteer group. She reviewed multiple application groups, including a round of reviews for the Colorado Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program (C-CAP). Bond was a scholarship recipient during her time at CU and reviewing applications is a way for her to pay it forward to future scholarship recipients.
Besides scholarship reviews, Bond has participated in tree planting and clean-the-creek volunteer opportunities with UCCS. She enjoys volunteering in the great outdoors and is part of a volunteer effort known as Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC). VOC is dedicated to building trails and enabling volunteers to become stewards of Colorado’s natural resources. Bond is retired and enjoys hobbies like traveling, skiing, biking, photography, scuba diving, and volunteering.
Bond’s advice to those thinking about volunteering with UCCS is, “Do it. Even if it is a small gesture or volunteer opportunity, please find the time. When you start volunteering you might do it because you think you’re giving back, but in return, you receive so much more.”
Gump moved to Colorado Springs in 2001 from Essex, Vermont to live and train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. She competed as a weightlifter in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Gump, ’10, also was eager to start her education at UCCS. “I returned home early from the Olympics because I could not miss my first week of class at UCCS where I was enrolled for the first time in my college career as a full-time student.”
To earn her degree as efficiently as possible, Gump began attending classes at both Pikes Peak Community College and UCCS. Gump majored in business and focused on her passion for athletics by studying sports management. This decision ultimately changed her career path. “The Sport Management program enabled me to see the true inner workings of the sport.”
Gump encourages others to explore UCCS volunteer opportunities, as there are so many benefits and resources available for all types of volunteer interests. “The biggest benefit I receive out of volunteering is the feeling of being connected and that I still matter as an alum to UCCS.” Besides weightlifting and learning, Gump enjoys spending time with her family hiking, biking, and fishing.
Ryan Adams is a Class of 2014 graduate who followed a unique path through the UCCS College of Business: PGA Golf Management. While cooking and traveling are two of his favorite hobbies, golf has long been more than a hobby for Adams – it was a passion.
The PGA Golf Management program at UCCS is only one of 18 across the country accredited by the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America and, upon starting in the fall of 2010, Adams quickly acclimated to his new surroundings in pursuit of merging his passion in gold with a career. That was, in large part, thanks to his mentor Ed Kelbel, the late PGA Professional and UCCS PGA Golf Management’s Program Director from 2008-12.
“The first time I met Ed was with my mom on a campus visit in fall 2009,” remembers Adams, now a PGA Professional himself who currently works as an Associate Editor for PGA Magazine. “I had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes the previous month and both my mom and I were concerned about being me far from Minnesota, my home. Ed said, ‘Don’t you worry – I’ll take good care of Ryan here in Colorado Springs. He and I will check in every month to make sure everything is smooth sailing.’ That reassurance made me feel so comfortable and Ed became someone incredibly dear to me. He was a father figure to all of us in the program.”
The beautiful campus and inviting atmosphere Kelbel laid out at UCCS were additional reasons Adams chose to join the Mountain Lion family, leading to a rewarding four-year experience while he pursued PGA Membership and got his degree in the College of Business. Adams also wrote for UCCS’ campus newspaper, The Scribe. Although Colorado Springs was very different from his hometown of Plymouth, Minnesota, outside Minneapolis, the opportunity to ski, hike, and golf throughout the year made the city a great place to live for outdoor activities.
After graduating, Adams has also participated in numerous volunteer opportunities with UCCS including the “Write-A-Mountain Lion” (WAML) letter-writing program and the financial scholarship review program. Why does Adams volunteer? “UCCS played a major role in where I’m at today in my life – I wouldn’t be the same person without my experiences on ‘the bluffs’ in Colorado Springs,” says Adams. “I enjoy volunteering because it helps me stay connected to the school. The WAML program is especially rewarding because I’m writing to someone who used to be me – a college freshman just starting their adventure. I want them to know UCCS will be just as special for them as it was for me, and that I’m proof of how special the time can be in Colorado Springs.” He also enjoys volunteer work that allows him to help future and current students who are pursuing degrees at UCCS. WAML is Ryan’s favorite volunteer activity because he hopes that he can relate his experience to other students.
Adams’ hobbies include golf, travel, cooking, baking, and trying new foods. He says that volunteering with UCCS has given him the opportunity to reconnect with the campus even when he lives across the country.
Nicola Roark attended UCCS for her graduate degree and earned a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) in 2011. She currently works at T. Rowe Price as the Site Strategy Manager where she focuses on driving site strategic priorities, including associate engagement, brand awareness, community involvement, and weaving diversity, equity, and inclusion through all initiatives. Roark chose UCCS for her graduate education because of the university’s reputation, the caliber of instruction offered by the school, and the ability to flex between online and in-person learning. For post-traditional students such as Roark, UCCS offered plenty of flexibility and a collaborative learning environment. She describes her student experience as supportive and explains how she really enjoyed the teamwork in her classes for group projects in courses like Accounting and Statistics. Roark found her fellow students to be encouraging to one another as well as cultivating an environment where everyone could contribute.
Roark volunteers with UCCS in a variety of ways, including career coaching, search committees, and on the Theatreworks Advisory Board. She chooses to volunteer with the university because it is important to pay it forward, she learns from the student and faculty perspective, and because volunteering has a “ripple effect” where the volunteer gets just as much out of it as those being served through volunteer work. In her free time, she enjoys cycling, traveling, reading, and the performing arts. Roark encourages everyone to explore volunteer opportunities, both as a way to build their existing skillset and as a way to engage with the specific needs in our community.
To Monica Sedillo, volunteering is all about playing to your strengths. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Organizational Management and Human Resources Management in 2008, and in 2009, she became certified in sport management. Sedillo chose UCCS because it was close to home, allowing her to continue living with her parents as a commuting student. She began her college career as a withdrawn and quiet freshman. It was not until Sedillo joined a sorority that she was able to break out of her shell and form lasting relationships. Her sorority reignited a passion for connecting with and helping others that she maintains to this day in both her current job and her volunteering career. Sedillo returned to UCCS in 2021 to get a master’s degree in Business Management. Now, she is an HR Senior Professional at UCCS’ Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
Sedillo soon realized that her background in letter-writing – thanks to a position at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs that required her to send hundreds of handwritten thank-you notes at a time to the zoo’s donors – made her a perfect fit for UCCS’ Write-A-Mountain-Lion Program. This program allows volunteers to write and send notes to incoming students that welcome them to the Mountain Lion family. Sedillo says that it is an opportunity not only to help other people but also to help the program itself, a cause that she believes is more than worthwhile. Because she finds writing letters to be therapeutic and calming, it is easy for her to send out letter after letter to incoming students every summer. She has even contributed an astounding 350+ handwritten letters in her volunteering career thus far! Donating her time and talents to UCCS is a large part of Sedillo’s life, and she argues that it is important, gratifying, and mutually beneficial for both the volunteer and the university. “There are lots of opportunities and lots of skills needed,” Sedillo explains when asked about the volunteer program at UCCS, “And it’s awesome to match up your skills with what the university needs!” While Write-A-Mountain-Lion is her own personal favorite program, Sedillo encourages others to explore UCCS’ volunteer opportunities so they can find the best ways to give back. Today, Sedillo spends her time hiking the campus trails, spending quality time with family and friends, baking, watching sports... and writing letters, of course!
Steve Parker came to UCCS right after high school to get his undergraduate degree in 1977, then returned to pursue a master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from which he graduated in May 1996. Twenty-five years after earning his MPA, Parker participated in the UCCS silver graduate program in December 2021. The silver and golden graduate programs celebrate alumni who earned their degrees twenty-five (silver) and fifty (golden) years ago. The program invites alumni to participate in UCCS commencement either in-person or virtually. Parker worked in both the public and private sectors throughout his career before retiring in November 2021. His public sector involvement encompassed a wide variety of different areas, including fire service, law enforcement, and emergency medical services. These experiences were highly satisfying and allowed him to serve the citizens of our community. His private sector experience was in the telecommunications industry, with specific expertise in offering 911 services in multiple states. Parker was also an elected official, having served as a Board of Education director for his school district and as a director for a fire protection district that provides services to his neighborhood.
When Parker first started at UCCS, it was strictly a commuter campus, and there were only three buildings: Cragmor Hall, Main Hall, and the library. Parker chose UCCS because of the small class sizes, affordability, and quality of programs offered. He worked several part- and full-time jobs while working on his undergraduate degree, and he worked full-time while completing his graduate degree. “My degrees from UCCS were integral to my success in the public and private sectors,” and the “breadth and depth of the educational experience was outstanding.”
“It is a way to give back to UCCS from what it gave to me,” Parker said when asked about the reason he chooses to volunteer at UCCS. He intends to leave his community better than the way he found it. The volunteer activities he enjoys doing with UCCS are the Write-A-Mountain Lion (WAML) letter-writing program, scholarship reviews, College of Public Service Advisory board, and open houses for students. He particularly appreciated the scholarship reviews because he liked learning about the students’ life experiences as well as their interest in pursuing higher education. The review process gave him a more holistic view of the students who attend UCCS. “I was humbled by the need, passion, and desire the applicants noted in their scholarship applications. It was an honor to participate in the ‘Write-A-Mountain Lion’ project. What a great opportunity to welcome new students to their next chapter of life as they pursue their educational and life goals at UCCS,” Parker said.
Parker encourages other people to take the step into volunteering with UCCS because it is gratifying, and there is truly something for everyone. He recommends others support our university, students, and greater community. Outside of volunteering, Parker enjoys exercising, spending time in the great outdoors, fishing, camping, and being with his family.
Heather Fairburn has not wasted time reaching milestones in her career since graduating from UCCS in 2018. A Florida native from a military-affiliated family, she transferred to UCCS from a college in southern Georgia. She entered the Criminal Justice program at UCCS and quickly realized there are many paths that the major can take people down, even beyond working in some of the more traditional law enforcement roles. She was even chosen as student of the year for the Criminal Justice program her senior year. After she completed her degree at UCCS, she went on to work with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in a Fusion Center. Fusion Centers are intended to improve sharing of criminal activity information among varying law enforcement agencies because of the Patriot Act. She was then promoted to Strategic Intelligence Analyst while in Florida. Now, after relocating to Virginia in 2022, she is working as a Criminal Intelligence Analyst.
Being a first-generation, non-traditional, and transfer student in college made the transition to a new university challenging, but Fairburn worked hard and quickly started to excel in the classroom. When she first started the Criminal Justice Research Methods course with Sherry Marshall, she said she struggled to see how it could ever fit into her life outside of the classroom. The math aspect of the course challenged her greatly, but in her second semester of the one-year course, Professor Marshall asked her to come and help some fellow students with the course because she was doing so well. Hindsight truly is 20/20, as Fairburn now shares that she uses principles and concepts from that course in her professional work frequently.
One of Fairburn’s first tastes of volunteering at UCCS came when she responded to the call for help to write letters to incoming students in summer 2020 via the Write a Mountain Lion program. Her love for UCCS inspired her to get involved as a volunteer despite living thousands of miles from campus. She has also helped read and score student scholarship applications with the Chancellor’s Leadership Class. When asked what advice she would give to others who are considering volunteering with UCCS she said, “I enjoy volunteering because I know it has a purpose, even if I don’t always see it on the forefront. If you enjoy volunteering, give a look around (the website) to see what is being offered and interests you, because you can sort by looking at your interests and know that you are making a difference, even if you do not always see it.”
Fairburn has no shortage of interests and hobbies outside of her work. She enjoys volunteering, traveling, camping, hiking, gardening, sports, attending concerts, and spending time with her husband and their two dogs.
Mary Koepp received her undergraduate degree in Speech and Theatre in 1968 from Montana State University and taught junior high English and history for seven years. She then enlisted in the U.S. Army and completed her service 33 years later as a Chief Warrant Officer Four. Later, she would go on as a post-traditional student to receive both a master’s degree in Curriculum for Diverse Learners and certification to teach English as a Second Language from UCCS. She now serves as an international missionary teaching English and drama as an evangelism tool to students in Bible colleges and seminaries in Africa and India. As a facet of her master’s study at UCCS, Mary had the opportunity to intern in South Korea helping to develop a curriculum standard to guide English instructors of children between the ages of seven and 14. She especially enjoyed this internship opportunity as it highlighted a cause close to her heart and inspired some of the work she continues to do today as a global missionary. Koepp enjoys volunteering for many organizations in the Pikes Peak region. She likes to donate her time to classical music organizations in the community and on the UCCS campus because she enjoys giving back to her alma mater.
At UCCS, Koepp volunteers for the Write-A-Mountain-Lion (WAML) letter-writing campaign for incoming freshmen, supports scholarship reviews, and ushers with the Theatre Works program and the Ent Center for the Arts. As she has a passion for the performing arts and the theatre, these opportunities are a great fit for her interests. Koepp is also an active board member for Curiosity Unlimited, founded in 1977 by a group of Pikes Peak area citizens and CU alumni. This program was created to provide a forum for stimulating community interest in UCCS, to create opportunities to become acquainted with university faculty members, to study relevant issues through free on-campus lectures, and to help students engage in leisure-time learning. Koepp recommends volunteering with UCCS because it is “a worthwhile experience, is easy and flexible for your schedule, and literally offers opportunities for every interest.” In her free time, Mary likes to garden, attend performances of classical music or theatre, and do mission work with her church.
Kayla Gronseth Boyer followed a nontraditional path in her UCCS career, but that didn’t stop her from donating her time and talents to her university in multiple volunteer activities. After she got her associate’s degree at Pikes Peak State College, Gronseth Boyer then transferred to UCCS so she could get her bachelor’s degree at a four-year college. She completed her master’s degree in organizational strategic communications soon after. During her time as a student at UCCS, Gronseth Boyer worked on campus as a tutor at the Writing Center and as a graduate peer mentor for Communications students. She says that working on campus helped her meet all kinds of people and helped her get more involved with the university.
Gronseth Boyer is now the eComm program manager for UCCS. She takes up any possible opportunity to help the university that comes her way. When asked why she chooses to volunteer, Gronseth Boyer explains, “Because I care about the university. It helped me get to where I am today, and I want to pay it all back. It also feels nice to help people!” Some of her volunteer history includes tree planting in 2021 and helping with Grad Fair. Her favorite so far would have to be Grad Fair. She says that seeing all the excited students and being there for that important milestone reminds her of her own experience at that time as a UCCS student.
In her free time, Gronseth Boyer enjoys hiking, camping, exercising, and gardening. She invites everyone to give volunteering at UCCS a try, because “it can be as little of a task or as big of a task for whatever you want. There’s something for everyone!”
Kyle Boyle is one of UCCS’ outstanding alumni volunteers. Boyle, ’18, is from Crested Butte and has made a lasting impact on UCCS with the contributions of his time and talent.
Boyle came to Colorado Springs to pursue his education in business management at UCCS, which Boyle described as “the perfect fit.” While a student, Boyle had a multitude of experiences, with one that particularly stands out. Boyle says his favorite and most significant activity was working as the station manager for the campus radio station, UCCS Radio. Boyle was able to learn as a leader, make friends, and experiment with new ideas with mentors to guide him.
Boyle got involved with the UCCS Alumni and Friend Volunteer program by reviewing student applications for the Kane Scholarship, as Boyle was a previous winner of this award. Since then, Boyle has participated in numerous volunteer opportunities, setting an example for other alumni and friends. Boyle wants others to know the sense of pride “towards self, community, and the organization” that comes when volunteering for UCCS. He believes others should be “hungry to stay involved” as it makes a larger impact than many realize.
Boyle participated in the two-year Fellowship program at El Pomar Foundation after graduating from UCCS. He remains at the foundation serving as an IT and Media Specialist. Boyle says he wants to continue volunteering at UCCS and building bonds to better the community. “Others should be aware of the volunteer opportunities at UCCS and take initiative to pick things that can benefit both them and UCCS,” he said.
Jacque Jewell is a UCCS volunteer who loves the great outdoors. Jacque has many hobbies that allow her to appreciate nature, including hiking, biking, and training her German Shepherd, Moji. Jacque also enjoys volunteering with UCCS and has made many contributions to the campus and its students.
Jacque received her Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Management and International Business from UCCS in 2020. After discovering the UCCS Alumni and Friends Volunteer Program, Jacque quickly became very involved. She started volunteering as a judge for the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Case and Essay Competitions and was recently a panel member at the Daniels Fund Southern Colorado Ethics Summit. Jacque says she was “always impressed by the students writing and presentation skills.” Jacque also volunteered at events like the career fair and STEM career fair, where she was able to show students career opportunities with her employer, FedEx. She found it very rewarding to share why she likes working there and how others can make an impact on the company. Additionally, Jacque serves on the College of Business Alumni Leadership Team, as a mentor for the College of Business’ Relationships, Opportunities, Acumen, Readiness, (R.O.A.R.) program and as a client project lead for the Information Systems capstone course.
Jacque went back to school to pursue her MBA many years after finishing her undergrad degree and hopes to help other students in that same position through her volunteer work. Jacque says, “I have a lot of business experience and can help students learn and grow.” Jacque believes helping students is a meaningful way to pay it forward. She encourages others to volunteer because she believes in the value of connection and the importance of preparing younger generations for the workforce.
After Heidi Rogers graduated from UCCS in 2019, she immediately got involved with the UCCS Alumni and Friends Volunteer Program. Her favorite volunteer opportunity so far? Rogers said it was the Mountain Lion Grad Slam competition, where she evaluated and scored graduate students’ research projects. Rogers enjoyed this opportunity because she got to see the students’ hard work and passion for their subject matter come to life.
As a UCCS alumni volunteer, she calls on her experiences as a student. She said she enjoyed the smaller class sizes at UCCS, where she could easily connect to students, faculty, and even staff members. Rogers graduated with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and uses her education to train management professionals as a U.S. Air Force employee.
Volunteering at UCCS helps students further their careers and pursue their goals. Rogers said she wants people to know how simple it is to volunteer with UCCS, because the online website is easy to use, the staff members are helpful, and there are plenty of exciting volunteer opportunities. She encourages others to “get out there and volunteer!”