Outstanding human development and family studies grad starts first-ever CSU gerontology club through passion to help others

Graduating from Colorado State University’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Sarah Cromwell has left a huge impact on the department and the Fort Collins community.

Cromwell launched the first-ever CSU Gerontology Club with inspiration that came from her academic background in gerontology and human development and family studies combined with her professional work experience as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at Columbine Health Systems. During the COVID-19 pandemic, staff workloads increased and staffing shortages grew. Cromwell observed that residents were missing out on time to chat and connect with others in a meaningful way, so she started the club to help out.

Outside of starting the club, Cromwell has been outstanding in numerous ways.

In their own words

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

“My amazing, supportive family!” -Sarah Cromwell

I am from Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. I chose CSU because my dad got a new job in Fort Collins during my senior year of high school, and I wanted to be close to my family after graduation. I would not be where I am today without the support of my family and friends, and I am so glad I decided to live near my family throughout my college experience. Ironically, I applied to CSU on the day I learned my dad was a finalist for a position in Fort Collins, and it was just before the application process closed. I was accepted to CSU without even seeing the school, and I am so glad I did!

Q. What obstacles have you overcome to get to graduation? How have you persevered through unforeseen circumstances?

These last three years at CSU have been some of the hardest, most trying times of my life. Being a college student during a global pandemic is not easy, and I think everyone who has made it through should be extremely proud of themselves. I personally have had COVID-19 twice – once before a vaccine was available and then recently after having been vaccinated and boosted – and I have never been more sick in my life. It was a very difficult time for me, and experiencing isolation while feeling very sick was mentally, physically, and emotionally draining.

I also lost one of my best friends, Wesley, my senior year. We had been close friends since freshman year, and it was devastating to learn of his death in a tragic car accident. It reminded me of how precious life is. I miss him every day! Juggling school, sickness, and the sudden loss of a dear friend are just a few of the many unforeseen circumstances I have had to overcome during my time at Colorado State.

Cromwell and friends at a football game

Cromwell and friends at a football game, including dear friend who passed away, Wesley. From left to right: Courtney Goetz, Cooper Bayman, Sarah Cromwell, Wesley Quillen, and Cole Williams.

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

My professors here at CSU have been amazing! Dr. Allyson Brothers has been such an influential part of my life throughout my college experience, and I would not be the person I am today without her constant support and encouragement. She really went above and beyond during my college experience, and I will forever be thankful for her. My other professors – Dr. Eunhee Choi, Ryan Donovan, and Dr. Ashley Harvey – have also been so supportive and amazing to help me overcome the challenges I have faced and have helped me to be the most successful student I can be. Having encouraging professors who make their content interesting has been one of my favorite parts of attending CSU.

Q. What activities have you been most involved in?

I have been very involved during my time at CSU. I founded the CSU Gerontology Club, which works with nursing home residents and informs students on the field of gerontology. I was also involved with the service fraternity Phi Sigma Pi. Last year, I served on Karen Barrett’s research team, and I learned so much. I played intramural flag football during my senior year. I volunteered in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at the Medical Center of the Rockies. I was a teaching assistant for two semesters and a LIFE 102 learning assistant for two semesters. Currently, I am interning at Respite Care inc. Additionally, I worked as a nanny for two families and as a certified nursing assistant throughout college, and I will continue in those roles until I start a physician’s assistant program.

Cromwell and Torin, who she nannied throughout college.
Cromwell and the kids she nannies for at a CSU football game
Cromwell dressed and ready for her CNA position during the pandemic

Cromwell and the kids she nannies for as well as a picture of her dressed and ready for her CNA position.

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

I am graduating in three years with a 3.6 GPA with a major in human development and family studies, a pre-health concentration, and a gerontology minor. That is my proudest accomplishment as it is what I have worked so hard for throughout the last three years. I am also extremely proud of the difference the CSU Gerontology Club has made in our community and for the lives of nursing home residents during the pandemic.

Q. What will you miss most about CSU?

I will miss the amazing people I have met at CSU. I will miss living with my college roommates, including my freshman year roommate Courtney Goetz, who I have lived with every year since, and Samantha Dickson, who I met right away during freshman year. Their support and encouragement have meant the world to me. I will miss learning from my professors, seeing people I know on campus and stopping to talk with them, seeing the mountains every day while walking to class, and so much more.

Q. What are your plans after graduating?

I am applying to physician’s assistant programs and plan to become a physician’s assistant. My dream is to go to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. I would ideally like to work in pediatrics or geriatrics. I have started the application process and will take a gap year and continue my work as a nanny and as a certified nursing assistant while I await admission approval.

Cromwell and roommates outside Moby Arena
Cromwell and flag football team
Cromwell and boyfriend wearing CSU jackets at a trackfield
CSU Gerontology Club with activity cards the group made for nursing home residents

From left to right, Cromwell with her roommates, Samantha Dickson and Courtney Goetz; her flag football team; her boyfriend, Adam Stark, who is on the CSU track team; and the CSU Gerontology Club, which she founded.