Awards & Honors

We’re proud of our people—the faculty and staff who work so hard to make a difference in the lives of others. Click the link below to read about individual award recipients, or read on for some of the distinctions earned by our faculty and employees (as well as some by the college itself).

  Faculty/Employee of the Year

The Colorado Film School at CCA once again has been named to The Hollywood Reporter’s list of the top 25 film schools in the world for 2014. The School is on the list alongside prestigious institutions such as the American Film Institute, University of Southern California, New York University, UCLA, California Institute of the Arts, Columbia University, Syracuse, Stanford, and Columbia. In compiling the list, The Hollywood Reporter consulted industry insiders, executives, filmmakers, and film school graduates. The magazine cited the film school's "new green-screen 3D studio, created by visual effects wizard Douglas Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey, The Tree of Life) that gives students at the Denver school a launchpad into the future of movies." The Reporter also described CFS' main studio in its 25,000-square-foot building as "packed with equipment for the school's many degrees, including directing, writing, producing, acting for the screen, postproduction and cinematography." Spike Lee and Avatar cinematographer Mauro Fiore are among the guest artist teachers, the magazine added.

Margaret Ann Uchner has been appointed Pacific Regional Director of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE). She is one of five regional directors of AAfPE in the United States. AAfPE is a national organization that serves paralegal educators and institutions offering paralegal educational programs. The Pacific Region serves 13 states and 64 member colleges and universities. Uchner is the Legal Studies Program Coordinator for Paralegal and Criminal Justice at the Community College of Aurora.

Cheryl Siebert Waite, an adjunct faculty in History, was one of the authors of Denver Inside and Out, published by History Colorado and The Colorado Historical Society. Waite’s article “Denver’s Disorderly Women” focused on Denver’s prostitutes, its red-light district and impact on the city. The book was a finalist for the 2012 Colorado Book Awards.

Colorado Film School students John McSween and Benjamin Dunn produced a 20-minute “sizzle reel” entitled Peak of Terror for the Stanley Hotel Horror Film Festival. The two filmmakers, along with a crew of 30, were awarded the juror’s prize in the May 2013 competition. Their victory included a $5,000 payout, a gold cup and, potentially, a development deal to produce a full-length feature film.

Student Matt Jensen won the City Wide Persuasive Speaking competition at the Blackbox Studio Theatre on the campus of Community College of Denver on May 3, 2013. Winning speakers from satellite events at five community colleges – CCA, CCD, Arapahoe, Front Range, and Red Rocks – competed for the title of Metro Denver champion. Jensen’s topic was entitled: For a Few Dollars More: Popcorn, 3D & Imax,” which touched upon the inflation of movie prices. Communication faculty Vicki Graham started the CCA project, which were judged based on the speech’s introduction, body, conclusion, and delivery.

Crystal Smith delivered the student commencement address at CCA’s graduation ceremony May 11. Smith, 34, talked about being a mom, an older student, and a two-time member of the college. Smith re-enrolled at CCA in the summer of 2009, overcoming health issues and family responsibilities to make her way through college successfully. Smith transferred to Metropolitan State University in an attempt to eventually become a teacher of grade-school aged children.

Fernando Garcia and Blessed Otabil, who helped get their academic careers on track with help from the Student Success Center, were rewarded with prestigious work opportunities in the medical field. Both were accepted into the 13-month Undergraduate Pre-Health Program (UPP) run by University of Colorado-Denver in conjunction with the Anschutz Medical Campus Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Kaiser Permanente Health Plan of Colorado. The highly competitive program allows students to pursue numerous options within a broad spectrum of the medical profession. Garcia has plans to become a nurse; Otabil a neurosurgeon.

The Student Success Center held its end-of-year banquet in May 2013 and recognized its graduates and transfers for their accomplishments. Several special recognition awards were bestowed, including: Marie Mullan (SSC Tutoring); and Kim Andrews, Fernando Garcia, Robert Rhods and Sushmita Roth (Trio Scholars). The Trio North Star Award, presented to a student who has overcome significant obstacles to remain a student was Anthony Alexander. The Trio Shining Star, going to the student with more than 30 college level credits, a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrated commitment to the community, went to Robert Rhods. The Trio Rising Star Award, for a student with fewer than 30 credit hours, a minimum of 3.0 GPA, and exceptional commitment to their education and community, was given to Shawna Bauer. Mile High United Way Pathways Scholars who were cited included: Nicholas Hawkins (Most Mnvolved); Shandale Santana (Up & Coming Student); and Jerusalem Mamo (Standout).

Mitchell Moran was named the inaugural recipient of the Ryan Jones Memorial Scholarship, which honors a late CCA student killed in a car accident in 2010. Moran was given the award at the Eighth Annual Scholarship Recognition Luncheon on April 24, 2013. Members of Jones’ family were in attendance. For the academic year 2012-13, CCA Foundation in conjunction with its community partners awarded more than $500,000 to help further the education of students.

Three movie-making teams from the Colorado Film School were awarded $8,000 in game-based and immersive learning grant funding April 26, 2013, allowing them to make short films that will be ultimately used to potentially pitch full-length features to investors. The monetary outlay came after the culmination of a three-month, interdisciplinary exercise at CCA that involved numerous departments and tackled not only the creative aspects of filmmaking but also the business side. Production teams pitched their ideas to Denver-area business leaders twice during the month of April in hopes of securing funding that was supplied by the Colorado Community College System. The project Ivory and Gold, produced, written and directed by Benjamin Erbach, was the winner of the $4,000 first prize that will fund a short trailer encapsulating the movie. Spanish Gold ($2,500) by John McSween was the runner-up, followed by Tachyon ($1,500) by Blake Talley.

JoAnn Burkhart, associate dean of online learning, contributed to the Center for Digital Education’s 2013 white report paper, entitled “The Road to Transformative Learning in Higher Education: A Three-Part Strategy.”

Former CCA English faculty Kate Goodman and former Director of Library Services Megan Kinney have been accepted to a competitive PhD program at CU-Boulder called ATLAS (Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society).

CCA’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, known as Alpha Pi Pi, was bestowed two awards within its region at the March 2, 2013 PTK regional conference in Colorado Springs. The college was cited for having a “Distinguished Chapter,” for its work on such projects as Honors in Action, College Completion and other chapter activities. Chris Rummel, Ryan Manzanares and Timothy Matthews played an integral role for the Honors in Action project that was feted by PTK. The accumulated research done at CCA was matched against other statewide chapters and deemed best. The study regarded completion in the classroom and whether it’s conducive to student learning and success. 

Tami Morrissey, assistant to the president, and Jamme Gonzales, facilities, were recognized as CCA employees of the year during a Colorado Community College System luncheon in March 2013. Morrissey won in the Exempt/Administrative category; Gonzales in Classified.

Jaime Corchado, CCA’s 2012 student keynote speaker at commencement, was in Washington D.C. from February 27 to March 2, 2013 with CCA science faculty Victor Andersen to attend the National Council of NASA Space Grant Directors annual meeting. Corchado, now studying at Colorado School of Mines after finishing a NASA internship, was one of the featured speakers at the meeting. In addition, Andersen and Corchado visited all the congressional delegations from Colorado. Corchado told the congressional delegations about his experiences working on space grant projects at CCA, and how his experiences at CCA have changed the direction of his life.

Lt. Gov. Joseph A. Garcia unveiled the annual report on concurrent enrollment Feb. 20, 2013 at Aurora’s Hinkley High School. Garcia invited three successful students who had earned credits towards their college degrees at CCA, faculty James Gray and others to join leaders from Aurora Public Schools. Garcia lauded CCA and APS for their take-charge position on admitting high school students to take postsecondary courses. Among the CCA contingent on hand was Nicole Hockert, Renie DelPonte, and Olimpia Marroquin.

Jack Loar, member of the Glendale Police Department and a recent graduate of the CCA Police Academy, was cited for his good deeds in a January story in the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle. Loer and three other officers helped a woman who had all four of her tires slashed get replacements at no charge at a Performance Tire Center in Littleton and free towing to the repair shop. Meanwhile, Renee Tremaine was one of seven new officers sworn in by the Castle Rock Police Department in January. Tremaine graduated from the college’s Law Enforcement Training Academy in December after having previously completed an internship with the Madison (Wis.) PD.

Rob Hatcher and Ramona Urias were nominated as CCA’s two Rising Star Nominees and their accomplishments were recognized at a April 9, 2013 luncheon at Front Range Community College.

Eric Withrow, who has been attending classes at CCA since he was a Grandview High School student in 2001, entered the Cisco Networking Acad­emy NetRiders post-secondary competition and finished No. 1 in the state in the North American competition. Hundreds of competitors were whittled down to just 94 final­ists reaching the rigorous third and final round. Withrow – who finished first in the initial two rounds among five in-state com­petitors – was 18th overall in the United States and Canada when the final results were tallied.



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