Exceptional New Alumna still values Adams State connections

ALAMOSA — Creating internships for Adams State students, working with the Bureau of Reclamation and speaking to Congress are all in a days’ work for Katherine “Katie” Schultz. The earth sciences major from ASU is doing some moving and shaking of her own.

The young former Grizzly was so admired by the late Rob Benson, Ph.D. and emeritus professor of geosciences, that he nominated the 2015 earth sciences major for the Adams State 2020 Exceptional New Alumna Award just prior to retiring in the spring.

Schultz always seemed to have a friendly smile and open expression when she was on the Adams State campus. But her bright attitude and caring personality didn’t hide her exceptional grit and persistence as a student, and she put her experiences and training from Adams State to succeed in her chosen career, said Benson, who passed away on September 20. She has given back to her alma mater by creating professional paid internships for Adams State students and assisting with an internationally recognized field geology course offered by Adams State.

Older and Wiser

One of the amazing things about Schultz was she was no wide-eyed freshman when she joined the Adams State family. Schultz was 22 and working retail in the Denver area when she decided to return to college. She contacted several Colorado universities and Benson was the only one to respond. “It was the deciding factor in attending Adams State,” Schultz said.

Adams State helped build a foundation for her future success by enhancing her critical thinking and problem-solving skills through hands-on learning experiences. Benson encouraged Schultz to pursue opportunities on campus outside the classroom, which helped her develop interpersonally and become aware of her personal strengths and interests.

“Dr. Benson always made himself available to answer questions, and most importantly, he encouraged me to keep going no matter how difficult or challenging things became, academically or personally. It only takes one person who truly believes in you to make all the difference in your life,” she said.

Adams State offered several opportunities for Schultz to participate in field camps and internships, including serving as a teacher assistant. She aided the instructor in developing and implementing a framework for camp logistics, provided support to students in mapping of local geology and intensive scientific writing, helped students on projects, and took on other responsibilities and duties. Schultz also spent a couple college summers working with Andrew Valdez, Adams State Class of 1991 and park geologist at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

Schultz earned a graduate certificate in geographic information systems in 2018 from the University of Denver and that same year accepted a position as program analyst with the Bureau of Reclamation.

Creating Paths for Other Students

She helped create an internship with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Alamosa Field Division, in partnership with the Great Basin Institute. Since its initiation in 2019, two Adams State students were accepted into the program. The Bureau of Reclamation kept the Adams State demographic in mind during development of the internship, therefore preparing the student for the work and expectations of the job duties, ultimately setting them up for success.

“It was important to restrict the internship to a local Adams State student because local internships not only help connect interns with their community, it also demonstrates how the work they do has a meaningful impact for other people and the environment around them,” Schultz said.

She began her career with the Bureau of Reclamation as an intern in 2017. In her position as a program analyst she has traveled to cities across the western United States, giving presentations to stakeholders, water managers, and irrigation districts about the federal agency’s WaterSMART Program. She was involved in planning a Reservoir Operations Workshop for more than 80 people that brought together reservoir operators, modelers, forecasters, and decision makers to communicate ideas and solve problems, and assisted on a proxy reservoir sedimentation rate project.

Schultz is currently working on a collection of maps she will use to produce a report to Congress regarding water supply and demand in the western United States.

And her professional accomplishments have allowed her to achieve a major personal accomplishment: “I just purchased a new home in southwest Denver,” she says happily.



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