Kamryn Montera, a first-generation Colorado State University student majoring in interior architecture and design, has been distinguished as a Fall 2022 outstanding graduate of the Department of Design and Merchandising for her excellence in academics, and for her will to push through tough times and reach her goal of graduating.
Born in Pueblo, Colorado, Montera was enamored by CSU the first time she set foot on campus.
“CSU was like a breath of fresh air, and I knew that I had to experience it by fully engulfing myself and living in it,” said Montera.
Persevering to become an outstanding graduate
Montera did not reach graduation without obstacles in her way. She changed her major to interior architecture and design in the spring semester of her first year.
Switching degrees when she did meant Montera was realigning her classes while the COVID-19 pandemic upended learning for many. Montera’s first design classes switched to an online format in her second year.
One of Montera’s passions was cheerleading, as she was on the CSU cheer team for her first two years. She sustained a serious concussion at the end of her second year which also occurred during the height of the pandemic.
“There were a lot of traumas on my body from this injury, not only physically with a broken nose, bulging disk in my neck, chronic migraines, vertigo, and oscillopsia in my eye and right part of my face, but also mentally with severe depression and anxiety,” said Montera. “I had to take physical therapy every two weeks for months and partner with the student disability center for my classes and necessary accommodations.”
Despite the significant obstacle that impacted Montera’s physical and mental well-being, she remained persistent and endured.
“I would be lying if I said that dropping out hadn’t crossed my mind multiple times, but I know that as a first-generation student, I wanted to cross the threshold not only for me but for my family,” said Montera. “I am very thankful for the obstacles as I can look back and feel pride in the resilience that I exhibited repeatedly, to both myself, and my friends and family.”
A lasting impact from CSU
Throughout hardship, Montera was able to rely on those around her at CSU, especially her professors. There was one lesson that stuck with Montera most of all regarding her education in design, and how tangible excellence is not always what it may seem.
“Our drawing instructor drew butterflies on my rubric for a project and told me that I don’t need to strive for perfection, but rather go with the flow of the design and find beauty in the fluidity,” said Montera. “It’s an idea that I still carry with me all these years later in every design I do. I even got the butterflies tattooed on me as a constant reminder not only for design, but in life.”
This lesson and many others expressed to Montera during her time at CSU were profound.
“My professors have left such an impact on me that it is impossible to forget. They truly care with their whole heart and soul and make sure that every student understands how important they are as individuals, not just as students,” said Montera.
Positively reflecting and looking ahead
Now that she has reached graduation and navigated through hardship, Montera reflected on her time at CSU.
“I will miss the professors and always having a mentor to root for me and push me to new heights, no matter how scary it seems,” said Montera. “It is up in the air on what exactly I will be doing, all I know is I am excited to see my future.”
Strength, resilience, and excellence in the classroom sum up the qualities that make Montera an outstanding grad.
“I am most proud to say that I’m finishing my college career as a first-generation student and proving to myself that I am capable of more than I give myself credit for,” Montera said. “I am also proud that no matter what I went through, whether it was mental health or other circumstances that made it hard to see the finish line, I always found a way to see the glass as half-full and prove unending resilience.”
The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.