What an incredible privilege and experience it is to attend school at CU Boulder. Every morning we are greeted by the breath-taking flatirons, optimistic energy in the air, and a substantial amount of opportune resources.
While it is quite evident how extraordinary the University and college town of Boulder is, we often overlook what really gives our school its character.
That is the people. The faculty, the students, and the entire CU community are the basis of why we love Boulder so much.
What’s another rationale to boast about how cool our school is? The legends who came before us!
There are far too many highly esteemed persons to be mentioned in this article. However, it’s significant that we recognize some of these people at the very least.
Here is just a handful of some of the most creative, hard-working, innovative, and daring of people you might not have known attended the same University as you.
Have you ever heard of Kalpana Chawla?
She was the first ever Indian-American astronaut, and the first Indian woman to go to space. The remarkable former astronaut had a long history of education, and finally completed her journey in 1988, when she received her PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado.
Academy Award winner Charles Robert Redford Jr., better known as Robert Redford, attended CU for a year and a half on a baseball scholarship. According to a People magazine interview in 1998, he did not manage to keep up with his talents at CU. Instead, the former Kappa Sigma Fraternity member, let the party get the best of him. “I became the campus drunk and blew out before I could ever get going,” Redford told People magazine. It is unclear whether he dropped out or was expelled.
Some may know Redford as the environmental activist, the director/producer, the film, theatre, and television actor, or most commonly known as the founder of the Sundance Film Festival created in the 1980s.
Another short-lived career at CU was Jonah Hill’s. The incredibly hilarious and well-known actor attended the university for a semester and summarized his experience at an interview in Denver before the release of his popular movie, 21 Jump Street. Jonah Hill reflected on his short time at CU by saying, “Libby Hall represent.” “I had fun at CU. That was the issue, I had too much fun. I didn’t have a major and I left with no credits.”
Ask your grandmother or great grandmother who they enjoyed listening to when they were your age; and I can almost guarantee one of their answers will be Glenn Miller. Glenn Miller led one of the most popular swing bands ever. Miller played the trombone, and was also responsible for the arranging and composing of his band. Glenn Miller was the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1943.
Miller attended CU in 1923 but failed to graduate as well. Glenn joined the Sigma Nu Fraternity chapter but spent most of his time perfecting his music. Miller attended auditions, and participated in several gigs until he finally dropped out of school after failing three classes in one semester. With his dropout, Miller pursued his virtuosic gift and became one of the most pivotal figures in jazz history.
Have you ever wondered who’s creative and unconventional minds are behind the extremely popular and appreciated show, South Park?
Those minds would belong to Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Formally known as Randolph Severn (Trey) and Matthew Richard (Matt). These two CU alumni are American actors, animators, screenwriters, directors, producers, singers, and songwriters.
Parker and Stone met at the University of Colorado, in 1989. These two collaborated on a variety short films, and launched their career with the feature-length musical, titled Cannibal! The Musical, in 1993. The two friends also wrote the 2011 multi-Tony Award winning musical The Book of Mormon. In 1992, they would collaborate again to create a holiday short titled Jesus vs. Frosty. Jesus vs. Frosty would eventually become the renowned show South Park.
Next time you’re chowing down on Chipotle and thanking the universe that it exists, consider thanking CU alumni Steve Ells, the founder, Co-CEO, and chairman of Chipotle Mexican Grill. Ells attended Boulder High School and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Following his graduation, Ells attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where his career in the food industry would absolutely flourish.
You might not have known or realized that the co-anchor of “Squak Box” (Joe Kernan) was a former Buff! The “Squak Box” is CNBC’s signature morning program. The program is that of an informal, fast-paced, look into the world of Wall Street. This program runs from 6AM to 9AM ET on Monday through Friday and is the longest-running show on the network. Kernen achieved his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. Kernan later achieved his master’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Another remarkable journalist with roots in Boulder is CNBC’s Emmy Award-winning reporter Carl Quintanilla. Quintanilla earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Colorado in 1993. From there, Quintanilla went on to work at several publications and prominent magazines until he reached his present destination—The CNBC network. Quintanilla joined the network in 1999 and since has covered an enormous variety of important topics and issues. Quintanilla would also become one of the anchor’s in two CNBC programs named “Squak on the Street” (M-F, 9AM-11AM ET), and New York Stock “Squak Valley” (M-F, 11AM-12PM ET). Both programs are broadcasted live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
CU Alumni Jimmie Heuga, Buddy Werner, Bill Marolt and Billy Kid, all rose together in the 1964 Winter Olympics. Both Billy Kidd and Jimmie Heuga were the first American men to win Olympic medals in Alpine skiing. The two men took home silver and bronze in the slalom. Bill Marolt won four NCAA single skiing titles during his years at CU. His teammate Jimmie Huega, won two during his time. The close-knit group of teammates conquered great obstacles together.
Is it a coincidence that CU breeds such amazing humans?
I think not.
To conclude this piece, I will leave you with a quote engraved on our very own Norlin Library. The quote reads, “Who knows only his own generation remains always a child.” As we continue to attend school at CU and live in wonderful “Boulderland,” lets be conscious of the great people who came before us.