Van Dyken-Rouen headlines CSU’s International Women’s Day event

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, photo courtesy of CSU

Mark Govaki | CSU

Colorado State University’s Women and Philanthropy organization is proud to announce the return to campus of six-time Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen. The former CSU swimmer will headline an event on March 8, International Women’s Day. 

“Gather: Conversations to Inspire” will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 8 in the Stadium Club at Canvas Stadium, 751 W. Pitkin St. The event – which includes stories of inspiration, resiliency, and leadership from women in the community – is free and open to the public but does require registration. Donor Relations can be contacted directly at (970) 491-7774 or by email. 

The day includes Van Dyken-Rouen’s keynote address and Q&A, a panel discussion from the four head women coaches of CSU sports teams – the most in university history – and a lecture from Dr. Nicole Ehrhart on strategies to slow aging and delay the onset of age-related diseases.

“Women and Philanthropy’s mission is to connect and empower our community to elevate women and philanthropy at CSU, and Gather is an extension of that mission,” said Caitlin Carlson, associate director for Donor Relations in University Advancement Engagement. “Our founders created this donor community with the intention of spotlighting women at CSU who are impacting our campus; from research to teaching, leading students and programs, in the areas of arts and science and everything in between.”

An athlete, an advocate 

Amy Van Dyken’s journey to become one of the most decorated women athletes in the world began at CSU. After leaving swimming after two years at the University of Arizona, she enrolled at CSU to become a teacher. 

She resumed the sport at the request of legendary CSU coach John Mattos, posted NCAA-best times, and eventually made the U.S. Olympic team. She won four gold medals in the 1996 Atlanta Games and two more at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Amy Van Dyken in 1994.

Van Dyken was inducted into the Colorado State University Athletics Hall of Fame and later married former Denver Broncos and two-time Super Bowl champion Tom Rouen. She also has a street named for her on CSU’s campus. 

After an ATV accident in 2014 left her paralyzed from the waist down, Van Dyken-Rouen became an advocate for thousands of people with spinal injuries who do not have access to resources she did. Those in attendance on March 8 will experience her story of determination, leadership, and the impact she has in the world today.

CSU women coaches panel

As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, CSU celebrates the milestone of having more women being head coaches at CSU programs than ever before. Jen Fisher (softball), Laura Cilek (golf), Keeley Hagen (soccer), and Mai-Ly Tran (tennis) will share their experiences leading student-athletes and working in college athletics.

In 2019, Fisher was named Mountain West coach of the year and led the Rams to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003. In 2019, Cilek led the Rams to their lowest round average in program history and won a tournament for the first time since 2010.

After eight seasons as an assistant at Texas, Hagen joined CSU in June 2021. After leading Drake to an NCAA tournament and winning conference coach of the year honors, Tran joined CSU in July 2021.

The group will talk about breaking down barriers, achieving success, and the future of their sports. Current student-athlete and Presidential Ambassador Kendra Gipson will serve as moderator. Gipson is a senior soccer player who plans to become an attorney.

Dr. Nicole Ehrhart lecture

Ehrhart, the director of the Columbine Health Systems Center for Healthy Aging at CSU, will discuss the fact that because science has decoded aging on a cellular level, there are ways to hold off and hold back mental and physical decline for both humans and animals.

She holds joint faculty positions in CSU’s School of Biomedical Engineering, Cell and Molecular Biology program, the University of Colorado’s Gates Regenerative Medicine Center, and the UC Cancer Center.

“Every day, we’re inspired by this work,” Carlson said of the women involved in this event and others in the community, “and we’re excited to gather together on March 8, so others also can be inspired.”

To learn more about the impact Women and Philanthropy and CSU donors make on our students and the entire campus community, please visit giving.colostate.edu.

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