CSU Impact Resonates Across Globe, Through Generations

Skills learned at CSU take Alumna to Antarctica and beyond.

Very few people can say they’ve seen a penguin live and up close in Antarctica.  Colorado State University alumna Bonnie Ware Neighbors has photographic proof that she is one of those people.

Neighbors graduated from CSU in 1962 with a degree in microbiology from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and she was a highly-involved and accomplished student leader.

Bonnie Ware Neighbors at the Palmer Station in Antarctica

As a student, Neighbors was a member of Tri-Delta sorority, Mortar Board, and several other honorary societies.  Along with this, she was elected second vice president of the Associated Students of Colorado State University (ASCSU) and president of the Bacteriology Club. As an ASCSU student leader, she planned the first student event in the newly-constructed Lory Student Center, CSU Honor Night. She also had the opportunity to work as a research assistant in a botany lab funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.

Prior to graduating, Neighbors was awarded the prestigious title of “Pacemaker,” currently referred to as “Pacesetter,” which recognizes a student’s exceptional balance of academics and campus involvement.  To top her shining accomplishments, Neighbors was named “Miss Leadership” in 1962.  Through her leadership and service, Neighbors gave a lot to the University, but says the University gave her a great deal as well.

“I learned everything from CSU, I really did,” said Neighbors.  “Through academics and student activities, I learned how to communicate and lead a team.”

In addition to gaining knowledge and skills at CSU, Neighbors had the good fortune to meet her husband, “LSC 7” member Bill Neighbors, through their mutual involvement in ASCSU.  They married during her senior year.

Neighbors didn’t slow down after graduation.  In addition to raising a family, she had a 30-year career at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Her primary research was in cell biology in the Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology department studying the “Mechanisms of Mitosis,” relevant in cancer research. 

During her career, Neighbors participated in another NSF grant-funded program that took her to Antarctica, where she researched with a national team.  She made two trips to the continent, each two to three months in length, and used her photographic talent to document the experience. 

“It was a life-altering experience to participate in a scientific expedition that very few people have the opportunity to do,” said Neighbors.  “I came away feeling so grateful to have been selected.”

Neighbors stayed at Palmer Station, a United States base in Antarctica, where life was quite structured; however, she felt comfortable because her experience closely mirrored that of the research labs back home. Though she has many memories of Antarctica, she especially remembers the pristine beauty and awe-inspiring “sounds of silence.”  

Sunbathing in Antarctica

In 1999, Neighbors retired from the University of Colorado, but her drive and passion continue to take her in new directions.  Inspired by her mother’s end-of-life issues, Neighbors is now a certified long-term care ombudsman in Boulder County where she ensures the elderly, in long-term-care facilities, are treated with dignity and respect during their last years of life.

“The skills I learned at CSU are still being used today in my work as a resident advocate,” stated Neighbors.

Though her life has taken her across the globe, the foundation Neighbors received at CSU is as present today as it was in 1962.  On the 50th anniversary of the Lory Student Center, we celebrate the life and achievements of alumni like Bonnie Ware Neighbors and look forward to impacting our current students’ lives in the decades to come.