The Prescription for a Fulfilling Life
Scholar: Lori Donnell (McGee) Prok
When Lori Prok was a Boettcher Scholar at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) as an English major, she had time to enjoy leisurely reading of the Later Romantics and digging into the poetry of Blues Poets. Little did she know, her future didn’t lie in English, rhyming words or fiction. Instead, her success as a Boettcher Scholar encouraged her to pursue the rigors of medical school and her MD, with residencies in Pediatrics and Dermatopathology.
Today, Prok has a very busy life with practices in pediatric dermatology and adult/pediatric dermatopathology at UC Denver and Children’s Hospital Colorado. As part of her practices, she also teaches medical students and residents, providing valuable mentoring to student doctors just beginning their careers. In addition, Prok and her husband Dean (CU ’92, now also an MD with Exempla) are the proud parents of two active daughters under the age of 7. Happily living in Boulder, Prok even finds the time to get out and ski on her limited-edition CU Buffs skis with her sister.
The No-Limit Career
Scholar: Russell George
What can you do after graduating as a Boettcher Scholar? Just about anything, as evidenced by the wide-ranging career of Russell George. After graduating from Rifle High School in 1964 and earning the Boettcher Scholarship, George chose to attend Colorado State University. From there, his next step took him to Harvard Law School. But with an Ivy League Juris Doctorate degree in hand, did he take the predictable step of joining a prestigious law firm? No way. Instead, he and his wife embarked on a different adventure and enlisted as VISTA volunteers, working on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana for three years.
Back in Colorado after his volunteer work, George co-founded a law firm in his hometown of Rifle. A new business owner with all the challenges that brings, he then decided to add a few more challenges: serving as municipal judge and running for Colorado State Representative. Once in the legislature, George continued to excel. He was elected Speaker of the House and named Legislator of the Year twice by the Associated Press. Serving the people of Colorado then became an underlying theme across a wide variety of posts for Russell. He served as Director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, then became Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, after which he was appointed the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation.
While all of that would be career enough for two or three people, in 2011 George undertook yet another path and another new challenge as the President of Colorado Northwestern Community College.
Under Water is a Good Thing
Scholar: Dee Bradley Baker
Being under water on your investments is a bad thing. But after the Boettcher Foundation invested in Dee Bradley Baker and he ended up under water, we couldn’t be happier. Baker, a 1981 graduate of University High School who attended Colorado College as a Boettcher Scholar, now makes his living as a professional voice recording artist. He has provided the voice for numerous characters in cartoons and video games, including several characters on SpongeBob SquarePants in the underwater world of Bikini Bottom. In addition to SpongeBob, Baker’s character voices are heard often on Family Guy, American Dad—including an ongoing role as Klaus the German-accented fish, and the Scooby Doo, Spiderman and Star Wars cartoon series. He also voiced a memorable Daffy Duck in the movie Space Jam and did all the creature sounds in Nickelodeon’s television series “Avatar: the Last Airbender.”
He discovered his love for voices and characters in high school as part of the KUNC Young People’s Radio Festival, and continued to nurture his talent while majoring in Philosophy at Colorado College. In 2005, Baker was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, by Colorado College, and was recently named on the Top 50 Voice Actors of All Time, according to IMDb.com.
Mining for Energy Answers
Scholar: Justin Hayes
As captain of the football team at Hinkley High School in 2004, Justin Hayes knew how to motivate his team members when they faced long odds. Today as a Deepwater Gulf of Mexico production engineer for Anadarko Petroleum in The Woodlands, Texas, he’s working to help our country face its own long odds in the energy arena.
In high school, Hayes was not only captain of the football team his senior year, he was also named Second Team All League in his junior year. He put the same discipline, focus, team play and winning attitude he learned on the field to work at the Colorado School of Mines, where he majored in Petroleum Engineering and minored in Geology. He graduated cum laude. Before starting his career Hayes took a few months off to help with the program that got him interested in Mines, the SUMmer Minority Engineering Training program.
But he didn’t just focus on academics while in school. Justin also served as both Vice President and President of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and was an officer in the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). Hayes also used Boettcher Scholar Educational Enrichment Grants to attend national professional conferences for both NSBE and SPE, as well as to support his undergraduate research at the Marathon Center of Excellence for Reservoir Studies.
Now, as part of Anadarko, Hayes is a member of one of the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in the world. In addition to searching for energy answers, Anadarko and its employees like Justin contribute regularly to community programs like Habitat for Humanity and United Way. Hayes’ favorite Anadarko sponsored program is the Colorado-based Junior Achievement program which helps underprivileged kids learn about economics and business.
Success Isn’t News to This Scholar
Scholar: Kristi Arellano
Boettcher Scholar Kristi Arellano graduated from Pueblo South High School in 1997. During high school, she was Editor in Chief of Images for the Pueblo teen newspaper and the excitement of news reporting got in her blood. So when she was choosing a college, it had to have a top-notch journalism school. With the help of her Boettcher Scholarship, she was able to evaluate universities without having to worry about the expense. In the end, she chose the University of Denver and its program in Journalism and Mass Communications for its high level of personal attention. After graduating in 2000, she quickly landed a job at the area’s premier newspaper—The Denver Post. She took on a wide variety of stories and duties with a cub reporter’s energy and zeal. Covering the business beat, Arellano specialized in retail, real estate and general business stories. In 2007, that energy, detail and dedication was recognized and rewarded when Arellano was named Assistant Business Editor at the Post.
Arellano was recently promoted from Assistant Business Editor to Business Editor at the Denver Post. In addition to overseeing the Post’s business news coverage, her duties now include social media and online news reporting in her scope of responsibility, tweeting breaking news within minutes under the Twitter handle @KArellano_DP.
A Nobel Prize Winner Helps Put People to Work
Scholar: James “Jim” Heckman
Boettcher Scholars are used to winning awards. From community service awards to athletics and academic recognition, our Scholars are superstars within their communities and high schools. But it’s not often that an award comes with world-wide recognition!
Renowned economist James Heckman shared the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel with fellow economist Daniel McFadden in 2000. Heckman’s work has been devoted to the development of a scientific basis for economic policy evaluation. His recent research focuses on inequality, human development and lifecycle skill formation, with a special emphasis on the economics of early childhood. He is also studying the emergence of the underclass in the U.S. and Western Europe. In addition to the Prize in Economics, Heckman has also received the John Bates Clark Medal in 1983, the Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005, the 2005 and 2007 Dennis Aigner Award for Applied Econometrics from the Journal of Econometrics, the Ulysses Medal from the University College Dublin in 2006, the 2007 Theodore W. Schultz Award from the American Agricultural Economics Association, the Gold Medal of the President of the Italian Republic, awarded by the International Scientific Committee of the Pio Manzú Centre in 2008, and the Distinguished Contributions to Public Policy for Children Award from the Society for Research in Child Development in 2009.
Heckman graduated summa cum laude from Colorado College in 1965 with a degree in Mathematics. He went on to attend Princeton University where he earned his PhD in Economics. Since 1979, Heckman has been teaching and studying economics at the University of Chicago, where he was named the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor in 1995.