Shelby Litton

After 3 years Benson Earth Science has become my home away from home away from home. Being a first generation college student has been a huge adventure. Alienating at times but oh so rewarding! I defended my Honors Thesis “The Petrologic Study of the Huerfano Butte Lamprophyre” and it is now posted to CU Scholar. Graduating with a BA in Geological Sciences is a dream come true. I hope to use my knowledge to propel myself into a career that is challenging yet rewarding. With a geochemistry background and a love for minerals the opportunities are endless. There are a multitude of western issues I can see myself improving. I plan to get my Master’s followed by a Ph.D.. Learning is what I love and I will never stop. I’m a lab rat. I dream of doing lab work for remediation projects. Fixing the planet one locale at a time. In the simplest sense I just wish to do a job that I enjoy and find meaningful and to do that I have to be helping or solving something.

The Center has influenced me in a variety of ways. From opening my eyes to issues unbeknownst to me to putting me in the room of individuals I’d hardly find myself otherwise. I’m thankful for all the places Patty has taken me and for her opening her home to me. She has been a wonderful person to bounce ideas off of as well as a person who I’ll credit for the totality of my life for the wisdom she has imparted on me. Brooke’s ability to relate to the youth while also carrying around an old soul is something I’ll always look back on fondly when I need a laugh. Everyone at the Center made me feel at home and allowed me blossom ideas. Stepping out from under my scientist’s umbrella, away from all the math and clear cut answers to a field of endless possibilities and connects is how I see the Center and its inspiration. From Kurt to Roni, Honey, and Lisa – everyone has a role and they were all there whenever I needed them.

History isn’t a single path story but an experience felt by individuals who themselves have a story. Brooke told me to treat history as an exploration with the potential for multiple interpretations. My advice to anyone that even has a shred of curiosity about the West is to just go in and say hello. The least you’ll get is chocolate.

“If the Olympics added an event in which spirited young people competed in the sport of “full engagement with life and its possibilities,” it would be extremely likely that Shelby Litton would be placed on the podium platform reserved for the gold medalist. And yet the first thing she would do after receiving that medal would be to pitch into encouraging her competitors to put everything they had into equalling her achievement; this is, after all, exactly how Shelby conducted herself in her role as the president of the undergraduate Geosciences Club. Could anyone ever present an idea, a story, and a piece of evidence that would not stir up her exuberant curiosity? Not a chance.”

– Patty Limerick, Faculty Director and Chair of the Board


“She is a wonderful mix of spunky and warm and engaging. In her studies of the American West, she married her passion for geology with a genuine interest in the human implications of these scientific processes (e.g. how various forms of gold deposits led to Euro-American settlement in California). And she always brings a welcome dose of humor!”

-Brooke Neely, Research Fellow