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Provost Award-winner Becky Alter

A sustained ability to reinvent

Becky Alter toured much of the world as a musician. Her next gig is preserving it for generations to come.

December 11, 2018

By Cory Phare

Playing at Red Rocks Amphitheater might be the crowning achievement for some musicians.

But for Becky Alter, it was another steppingstone on a zig-zag path that will next lead the Individualized Degree Program student across the Metropolitan State University of Denver Commencement stage this December to graduate summa cum laude.

“I knew I was being called for something bigger, and there was a little voice in the back of my head saying, ‘You need to go back to school to do it,’” she said.

That something bigger is sustainable strategic planning for energy solutions, something she discovered while on tour overseas, where she observed the international impacts of climate change.

After returning stateside and eventually enrolling as a Roadrunner, she got connected to the University’s Honors Program, where she was a natural fit in a community of like- minded high achievers and instrumental in supercharging programming efforts, recounted Megan Hughes-Zarzo, Ph.D., Honors Program director.

Alter’s ambition serving on the Student Honors Council also translated to her thesis project titled “Motivating Millennials to Mitigate Climate Change,” which she said began as a look at communication strategies but evolved into a critical, deeper understanding of intergenerational appreciation and empowerment.

“She’s constantly willing to put ideas under scrutiny of someone who doesn’t think like her,” said Hughes-Zarzo. “That’s brave and constructive; that’s the mindset that helps build bridges across polarized environments.” 

Being interdisciplinary isn’t just an approach to blend areas of academic study for Alter’s Individualized Degree Program in sustainable strategic planning, either. She’s been an executive businesswoman who’s launched and run a successful management, marketing and sales company; built restaurants from the ground up in two countries; and learned three languages and performed in seven countries as a touring singer-songwriter.

“She’s a creative force and drives that force into whatever she’s doing to make it excellent,” said Hughes-Zarzo.

Alter said she appreciated the real-life applied background of MSU Denver faculty members along with the constant advocacy of her wife, Kara King, and her parents.

“Even in your 40s, you need Mom and Dad’s love,” she said.

The road ahead isn’t set in stone for Alter, who’s exploring options in economic development, strategy and urban/wildland planning; she also discussed potential graduate study.

But with a proven record of determination and reinvention, it’s the connections she cultivated at MSU Denver she credited for cementing her dream of helping Colorado become the model location for renewable resources. 

“I’ve had the opportunity to be educated by the most profoundly good, intelligent people I could imagine and have been able to work on wicked-cool projects, engaging with others as a community,” she said. “And that matters, because we’re all woven into this fabric together.”

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