HES Outstanding Graduate Brendan Kayne forges lifelong connection with university, faculty, and his son

Brendan Kayne with family and Cam the Ram
Brendan Kayne's military achievements on display
Brendan Kayne’s military achievements on display

When people think of hometown heroes, they think of firemen, police officers, a paramedic or maybe a civilian saving a cat from a tree – but to the Colorado State Univesity Department of Health and Exercise Science, Brendan Kayne is the embodiment of a hometown hero.

“Brendan is veteran student from the air force and has balanced school while being the primary care giver to his son while working and finishing his internship in a research lab in HES,” said Kimberly Burke, director of Adult Fitness and HES instructor. “Brendan has immersed himself in the department, trying to be involved in any way he can.”

Brendan sitting with his son Alec in a tent
Brendan sitting with his son Alec in a tent

Many students struggle to balance school and a social life without having to worry about financial or other societal pressures while they pursue their college degree – Kayne managed it all, balancing school, community, work, relationships with friends and family, and the most important responsibility of all, raising and caring for his son, Alec. Despite navigating the careful blend of the world of a student with being a dad, Brendan made a big impact on his school community and found support within that community to finish his degree strong – an amazing example for both his community and his son.

The Department of Health and Exercise Science is happy to recognize Kayne as one of our Outstanding Graduates for Fall 2022. We asked him about his journey toward graduation, and the challenges and triumphs he faced along the way.


Brendan participating in a class lab assignment
Brendan participating in a class lab assignment

1.     Where are you from and what brought you to CSU?

I am originally from California but separated from active duty Air Force out of Cheyenne, WY and had lived in the area since 2012. I came to CSU having enjoyed my experience living in the area and wanting to pursue a degree that interested me to the core.

 2.    What obstacles have you overcome to get to graduation?

One obstacle to graduation was an unforeseen family circumstance that would change the landscape for how I navigated my educational responsibilities where my parental responsibilities intensified beyond the usual scope of duties. I overcame this in many ways but most of all with the added help of my girlfriend, Diana, who was the enabler for my academic completion.

 3.     How have your academic experiences here and your professors, mentors, and advisers helped you overcome these obstacles and be successful in your major?

Brendan and instructor Brian Butki covered in whipped cream from being pied
Brendan and instructor Brian Butki covered in whipped cream from being pied

Brendan smiling after being pied at HESFest
Brendan smiling after being pied at HESFest

I owe many thanks to a select few faculty who supported in me without having the requirement to do so. Their open ears, strong wisdom, and validation gave me reassurance that I was doing the right thing for my family. I carry these individuals in my mind with the highest regard.

 4.     What activities have you been most involved in?

I originally was very active in the Student Parent Organization on campus but the Covid-19 lockdown really suppressed its growth. Since then, Adult Learner and Veteran Services along with the Student Veteran Organization have done a great job picking up those pieces as to be more inclusive of student parents/caregivers. As well since then, I have worked at CSU Adult Fitness for a year where I gained much hands-on knowledge as well as excellent guidance from its director and mentor Kimberly Burke.

Brendan and his son Alec after the Homecoming 5K
Brendan and his son Alec after the Homecoming 5K

5.     What are some accomplishments that you are most proud of during your time at CSU?

I am proud to have worked alongside side some of the smartest and kindest people I’ve ever met. I believe I got lucky coming to CSU HES. Working with members of the local community and having conducted human research are my proudest moments here at CSU.

 6.     What will you miss most about CSU?

I am trying my very hardest to stay affiliated with CSU because I enjoyed my time here so much! If I must depart Fort Collins, I will miss biking through campus during the changing of seasons.

7.     What are your plans after graduating?

My plan is to continue to work and pursue my master’s degree in some capacity.

The Department of Health and Exercise Science is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences