Article by Garrett Carroll

As an educational cornerstone in the valley, great stories continue to develop in the halls of Adams State University. Throughout the last century, Adams State prepared alumni to fulfill their professional and personal goals. Their close connections with faculty and a robust education motivates many alumni to encourage family members to attend their alma mater and create their own new and unique stories.

Adison Vick, a current cellular and molecular biology major whose mother, Christine S. Vick, graduated in 1997, said the campus environment feels modern and welcoming. “I feel I have an open connection to the faculty.”

For the storied biology and chemistry professors here on campus, teaching children of former students has been a unique highlight in their lengthy careers.

Frank Novotny, Ph.D, professor of chemistry, came to Adams State fresh out of graduate school and was only a few years older than some of the students. “Now, I am teaching the children of some of those first students. I am amazed at how the time has flown by; it is surreal.”

Emma Gilmore Adams State Physics Lab
Emma Gilmore, pictured left, works with fellow student in physics lab. Photo by Amy Kucera

Emma Gilmore, a junior double majoring in cellular and molecular biology alongside allied health chemistry with a minor in sociology, is a third generation Adams State student. Her parents, Paula Parker, Class of 1997, and Jeff Gilmore, Class of 1994, and her grandparents, J. Thomas Gilmore, Ph.D., Class of 1967 and 1968, and Pat Gilmore, Class of 1968, encouraged her to attend Adams State.

“Adams State has such a positive and welcoming environment,” said Emma Gilmore. “I don’t know if I have come across a single professor in the last three years that doesn’t go the extra mile for their students.”

Currently working as an emergency room technician at San Luis Valley Health, Emma Gilmore believes Adams State provided her a great foundation for continuing her education. “This university makes a student want to continue learning. I have no doubt that my experience at ASU will contribute so much to my success in higher education.”

Her grandfather agrees: “I [later] went on to earn a doctorate and was as well prepared as any student from any other university in the program.” He received the 2020 Billy Adams Award; and, along with his wife Pat, Class of 1968, the 2006 Willis Fassett Jr. Award. He began his career as an Adams State business professor in 1973 and retired as president in 2003.

“I feel honored when former students entrust us with their children’s education,” said Benita Brink, Ph.D., program chair and professor of biology. “Each of the students coming to us have their own unique background, skill set, career ambitions, and expectations. I want to help them develop their knowledge and skills so they will be successful in their chosen career.”

Adams State alumni have a variety of professorial and personal experiences, as they carve their own paths to success. “I have stayed in touch with several of them,” said Brink, “It is always wonderful to hear from former students.”

Novotny remains in contact with former students, some who graduated in the mid-1990s. “Former students stop by and visit as they are passing through Alamosa, when taking their children to tour colleges and universities, or they reach out by email or phone just to visit.” In the fall, Novotny recruited three recent graduates to serve as judges for “crazy sock day” in his general chemistry class.

That close connection keeps alumni coming back to the campus.

“This past fall, two former students who have doctorates in chemistry were guest lecturers to the chemistry seminar class,” said Novotny. “One is an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma and the other is located in California and is a senior research chemist at Exxon.”

Since opening as a teacher’s college in 1925, generation after generation has continued to intertwine, teach, and learn from each other on the campus.

“By continuing to offer robust programs that prepare students for careers in STEM or for their continued education in professional or graduate schools, we can help to prepare the next generation of Grizzlies to be successful,” Brink said.