Fall 2021 outstanding grad looks back at an incredible and multifaceted undergraduate experience

Atalie Manning Ft Image

Despite a rocky start, Atalie Manning is graduating from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in Fall 2021 with a diverse wealth of knowledge she gained from diving into her collegiate experience at Colorado State University.

Originally from San Luis Obispo, California, Manning first came to CSU because of the community she experienced when she first visited here, specifically at an event in Old Town.

“I loved how everyone gathered together and supported one another,” said Manning. “Everyone was so welcoming and inclusive, and it really felt like home.”

As an out-of-state student, Manning had a tough time adjusting to college following high school. She first entered CSU as a biomedical sciences major, but quickly found out that wasn’t her calling.

“On top of being homesick and adjusting to a completely new style of living, I felt overwhelmed for a good portion of the year,” said Manning. “I had heard about human development and family studies from a friend and decided to try taking the major’s introductory course to see if it was a better fit for me.”

The “people major,” as many professors call it, was the perfect fit for Manning, and she decided to pursue her passion by switching programs. Advisers and professors in HDFS helped Manning navigate the professional world and explore career paths.

“I felt extremely supported,” said Manning. “They made it clear that it was my decision to make, and I am so thankful for everyone who helped me get to the point I am at now.”

Making the most of her undergraduate experience

Manning writes on the chalkboard in a school in Africa
Manning leads a lesson at a community school in Livingstone, Zambia in Africa.

Manning dove into the major, utilizing the resources and opportunities made available to her in the department. One of those opportunities included working as a research assistant in an HDFS laboratory, the Developmental Disabilities lab. Here, researchers study the development of infants and children with various developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism. Manning worked here during her first year and later worked with the lab to write her honors thesis about the correlation between communication development and early object engagement in infants with Down syndrome.

“I love the positive impact the lab is making on our community,” said Manning. “I learned a lot about the research process, my passion for communication development, and how to collaborate with others.”

Outside of the lab, Manning utilized the benefits of the honors program she was part of at CSU, which included studying abroad in Zambia, Africa. In Zambia, Manning worked in a local classroom and learned about the education system. She practiced lesson planning and execution and went into the community to work with various projects such as a women empowerment group, sports clubs, and adult literacy classes.

“This experience taught me a lot about diversity within the education system,” said Manning. “It helped develop my passion for working with individuals even further.”

Adding on to Manning’s impressive work as an undergraduate, she also worked for the organization Schools for Climate Action, as a climate advocate. This experience took her to Washington D.C where she presented documents to nonprofit organizations, members of congress, and senators that discussed the importance of prioritizing climate action in our public schools.

Manning, other Schools for Climate Action students, and local representative, Joe Neguse.
Manning, far right, and other Schools for Climate Action students meet with local representative, Joe Neguse, in Washington D.C. to discuss climate advocacy.

“I feel proud of the work I conducted as a climate advocate while at CSU,” said Manning. “Through addressing needs such as sustainable energy and climate curriculum, I believe I have made an impact and will continue to work toward promoting this further.”

Manning gained additional knowledge through an internship at Bauder Elementary School where she led enrichment groups, worked one-on-one with students, and assisted teachers.

“As a school and a community, CSU has provided me with important and lasting relationships, as well as a rich academic experience,” said Manning.

Starting in January 2022, Manning will begin her career as a paraprofessional in a preschool classroom at McGraw Elementary School. She hopes to travel during the summer then begin graduate school in the fall, working toward a master’s degree in speech language pathology.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.