Setting The Course

It is graduation day.

University of Colorado – Colorado Springs: Graduation Day, Class of 2002

Deborah, Elizabeth and Tara will be receiving their Bachelor of Science degrees, Deborah and Tara in Biology and Elizabeth in Chemistry. Instead of participating in the ceremony, it is a day of final preparations for the start of their riding season in a few days. It consists of the necessary certifications of health and vaccination by Dr. Burrell, our horse veterinarian.

Dr. Burrell conducting an oral exam while Dr. Diehl holds Brie’s tongue

It is a day of mixed emotions. There is a greater sense of excitement. It is also a recognition our daughters have taken another step forward in their personal journeys.

It is their day to be recognized and celebrated. While they have achieved much, so much lays ahead.


Counting Days

Their excitement is palpable. It flashes in their eyes. It is heard in their voices. It is in their smiles.

prepping for finals: Deborah studying to the end

With graduation days away, my daughters have been asked what they plan to do next. More school? More riding? We, the parents, have been asked too about their future plans. Our response has been whatever the girls want to do, we’ll be comfortable with their choice. The girls, too, have replied with little specificity.

They do have career ideas away from the show ring. One of the side lessons from Trish and Mark is to have those plans ready, have the education to support those plans, and have the determination to carry them through. “If there is a career-ending, riding injury to either you or your horse, you need that plan. If your talent has plateaued, you need that plan. Most of all, do what you love.” It is not much different from riding.

the meditative Elizabeth: unwinding after a Grand Prix win in SoCal (Jun 2016)

They do have plans in which they will continue with their horses. They have made the forever commitment, and will honor their word to the fullest. They are horsewomen in every sense.

The degrees they have earned – Deborah and Tara in Biology, Elizabeth in Chemistry – will take them far, whether into their chosen fields or into allied disciplines. Or, maybe something completely different.

in the laboratory: Tara, performing an enzyme experiment, for her biochem lab course (Feb 2017)

Deborah, Elizabeth and Tara, they will be whatever they want to be in every sense too.


Classes resumed for my daughters last Monday. Elizabeth is beginning her senior year, Deborah and Tara are fifth-year seniors, at UC – Colorado Springs. Deborah and Tara began their college studies at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, and not all of their credits transferred into the University of Colorado system.

In terms of coursework, Elizabeth needs to complete both semesters of Biochemistry, a biochem lab course and a few electives for her ACS-certified BS in Chemistry. While Deborah and Tara only needed to take a few electives for graduation with a BS in Biology, both also opted to take a graduate-level microbiology course. What each will do after graduation, they are undecided.

The transition from the show ring to the classroom has always been a smooth one for them. They see it no different from the off-saddle work they do to prepare for a horse show. Doing well in the classroom is important to Mark and Trish, their instructors. Mark, in particular, says a rider needs to be ready for life while and after riding. Moreover, good study habits makes for a better rider.


Simply known as “Lehninger”, it is the best, most authoritative textbook to learn biochemistry for both chemistry and biology students. The edition shown in the photo is my personal copy. Elizabeth is using my copy while waiting for her copy to arrive from Alibris, an online book reseller. If she bought through the university bookstore, I would have to pay $185 for the same edition and condition of the textbook. At Alibris, I only paid $45. The latest edition of Lehninger, in new condition, easily retails for $285. Deborah and Tara are using their copies of Lehninger as a supplemental reading resource for their microbiology course.

(An added note, in this household, chemistry, biology and medicine are referred to as such, and not by the awful acronym, “STEM”.)


Fall Term

Once again, the fall term has begun. Proverbially, it’s back in the saddle. My daughters, they would prefer that saddle to be on a horse, of course.

Main Engineering classroom and laboratory building


The first week of classes is always a bit of measured confusion. Wait-listed students are seeing if they can get into that certain class, others are adding or subtracting to their course load.

My daughters, they’re pretty much set.  The only change was Deborah switching majors from business administration to biology. She decided to pursue her interest in animal/veterinary science.

Double Countdown

There is a sense of anticipation. A touch of anxiety. Next week is final exams week. This week is largely one of last classroom sessions and help sessions. The library is usually jam packed with those studying and/or working on term papers. Yet, the campus is fairly quiet.

Kraemer Library, University of Colorado  – Colorado Springs


With my daughters looking forward to the end of the school year, they are eager to proceed with their equestrian season which began this past Saturday with a day-long training session.

Tara enjoying an easy ride with Brie (June 2013)



Quiet Halls

Its tree-lined walks. Its quiet demeanor. Its past a rather different beginning for a university campus.

The buildings comprising the older portion of the University of Colorado campus, here in Colorado Springs, were built with a different purpose in mind. Not for the purpose of education, but one for recovery from the terrible affliction of tuberculosis. The dry air and relatively mild climate of the region was considered the ideal location to recover one’s health from the illness. In the 1890s, several sanitoriums were built on the outskirts of Colorado Springs. In 1905, the Cragmor Sanitorium became another sanitorium to provide treatment.


With strong medical leadership and exclusive clientele, the Cragmor Sanitorium developed a reputation as a highly-regarded treatment facility. Its attractive Spanish Mission revival architecture was a definite draw for the arts and café society from the East Coast. However, the Great Depression of the 1930s required the sanitorium to adapt to the new reality. To survive economically, providing treatment to a rich clientele was no longer an option.


Though on a large parcel of land, the Cragmor Sanitorium did not develop into a large institution. Several cottages, homes, and out buildings were built behind the main sanitorium facility to provide follow-up and transitional care. The Cragmor facility remained dedicated to its core mission of strong medical leadership.

As the years passed and other treatments for tuberculosis were developed, the sanitorium had fewer and fewer patients. It had an elderly nursing care wing added to its main sanitorium building. Yet, the new services did not change the declining patient numbers. In the mid 1960s, the University of Colorado had developed an interest in the property. The university was seeking to expand its academic programs in support of the military and a developing engineering industry in Colorado Springs.

With three large buildings, the university began operating their extension center in full earnest. The class schedule, mostly Monday through Thursday, and mostly in the late afternoon and evening hours. While the average age of the student body was 28, the one thing every student agreed on was the creepiness of the former sanitorium facility. Most creepy was South Hall, just southeast of Main Hall. The hallways were long and poorly lit.

By the time my sister, Ginny, started in 1972, the campus was less creepy. At least, that’s what she said. But, she added Friday afternoons were very quiet. When I started in 1974, those creepy moments didn’t seem to exist, at least in my mind. Regarding late Friday afternoons, they were still deadly quiet.

Though the older part of the campus was renovated several years ago, it hasn’t changed all that much. It is still deadly quiet. Very few classes, if any, are held in this part of the campus. Many of the classes are now held in the new buildings. My daughters are glad their classes are in the new buildings. They say that older end of campus does have a creepy feel.

Come, let’s walk through the fall colors. What will we see? What will we hear?




About the photos

The archival photos of the Cragmor Sanitorium are courtesy of the University of Colorado. The color photos are mine, pretty much classic shots that have been taken by many.

New Ground, Familiar Ground

It is a very familiar place, yet so different. It is a new place, a new chapter taking shape.

clock tower at the Kraemer Library, University of Colorado – Colorado Springs


For my three girls, today is the first day of classes at the University of Colorado, here in Colorado Springs. Deborah and Tara, having attended Colorado State in Ft. Collins in their freshman year, felt uncomfortable with life on the big campus. Elizabeth opted to stay closer to home from the very beginning. Having them closer to home has made it easier, allowing them to mature and become more independent on their own terms, on their own schedule. Needless to say, it eases the stress on the checkbook.

The campus has changed considerably through the years. When my sister, Ginny, began here in 1972, it wasn’t far removed from its previous life as a sanitorium facility. A few classrooms still had bathtubs fixed in place. The fifth floor of the Main Classroom building was closed off, something about a weak floor and weak roof system. By the time I started in 1974, a new library-classroom-laboratory building was added. It was so quickly built, Dwire Hall, was already sliding down the expanded hill it was built on. The building was eventually stabilized after three years of remedial work.

Additional classroom, laboratory and office space was slowly added through the 1980s. In the late 1990s, a more rapid building cycle began. In addition to more classroom space, a new library building, and student union, residential student housing was added to the campus.

looking towards the new end of the campus – Columbine Hall (on the left), student housing units (on the right)
and parking garage (left, foreground)


No longer a commuter campus, it has become the fastest growing campus in the university system. The construction continues on a strong pace. A new sciences and engineering building and events/student union center recently opened.

a panoramic view of the new end of campus – Sciences & Engineering Classroom Laboratory building (right foreground)


If anything, it is beginning to lose its small campus atmosphere. With over 10,000 enrolled students, that is inevitable. Hopefully, the small campus atmosphere will last long enough until my daughters graduate.