By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
Amy Hoeven has used her communication skills to help others succeed. She became involved in the work that ethnic studies professor Eric Ishiwata is doing with students in Fort Morgan, Colorado. She describes her goal as helping those students and others realize “how much more capable we all can be.”
Hoeven lived in Fort Collins when she was young, then her family moved to Sterling, where she graduated from high school. After starting college elsewhere, she transferred to CSU and became involved in the campus television station (CTV). Following graduation, she landed a position with Link VTC, a video teleconferencing company in Boulder. When a larger company purchased it, she worked in operations for them, doing on-camera work and later moved into sales. Next she worked in sales and production for Mountain Sports Media.
She then returned to Fort Collins, doing marketing, sales, and community outreach for Professional Document Manager. The Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce named her “Young Professional of the Year.” She became a Life Member of the CSU Alumni Association and serves on the College of Liberal Arts Development Council.
Her drive to help others also was evident when OtterBox co-founder Nancy Richardson was looking for ideas to launch the “Otter Cares” philanthropic organization. Amy helped her envision the “Get It, Grow It, Give It” event. She also participates in her husband Kurt’s “Unite for Literacy” project, which donates children’s books to families.
Her most significant recent efforts, however, are focused on young immigrants. She heard Ishiwata speak about his work at a “Great Conversations” event sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts. He and his ethnic studies students work with Fort Morgan school students, predominantly Latinos, East Africans, and Caucasians. A number are from refugee and immigrant backgrounds. The Hoevens “tagged along” on one of Ishiwata’s trips to Fort Morgan and became committed to the project. They donated books narrated in the native languages of some of the immigrant students, and Amy worked with members of CSU Key Community, who mentor the high school students who are learning English as a second language.
She also is executive director of a film featuring these students. The virtual-reality film, Who I Am: A Journey of Unity through the Stories of Refugee, Immigrant and First-Generation Students, debuted publicly at the 2017 ACT Human Rights Film Festival. Kyle Rasmussen (B.A.,’13) of Blue Shoes Media directed the film, and Brandon Woolridge (B.A., ’15) was associate producer. She has shown the film to a variety of community groups as well as given a Ted Talk and done a number of presentations around Fort Collins. She also has worked with Dreamers’ United, a campus organization that provides clothing for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum who attend local schools.
Hoeven recently endowed a scholarship to support first-generation CSU students primarily from Fort Morgan and Sterling. She also is working on an immigration awareness event. This stalwart Ram and CSUAA Life Member sums up her commitment to these young people by explaining: “It is so important for them to know that one person cares.”