Seeing Beyond Yourself - Cynthia Mousel


"The atmosphere in my household lent itself to academics and created a sense of expectation," says Cynthia Mousel, who grew up in a home that was filled with books, music, and the arts. Although originally drawn to forestry and environmental concerns, she had always been an active person with a background in dance so she decided to major in physical education. Her adviser and mentor during her four years at Colorado State University was the late Irmel Fagan, who studied under well-known modern dance artist, Martha Graham.

"Irmel Fagan was a very warm, kind, knowledgeable individual who saw a place for dance within the CSU curriculum. The arts department did not exist at the time, so she knew dance would have to be attached to the physical education department in order to succeed," says Cynthia. "I really appreciated her intuitiveness and being able to work within a system that, at the time, did not have a lot of support for women's athletics."

After graduating in 1962 with her degree in physical education, she went to work for the Cherry Creek School District as a physical education teacher and girls' gymnastics coach. "Irmel Fagan modeled for me what teaching was all about," Cynthia says. "In many ways we were kindred spirits."

It was during Cynthia's time as a teacher and coach that Title IX went into effect creating many new opportunities for women in sports. Following in Fagan's footsteps, Cynthia seized every opportunity to develop more physical education programming for girls at the secondary level. As budgets allowed, she was able to add field hockey, gymnastics, and dance classes.

"There were a lot of joys involved in working with students, especially watching them grow in the areas of confidence and being able to set goals and follow through," she says.

Cynthia retired from the Cherry Creek School District after 32 years, but she did not retire from teaching.

"I thought it would be a real kick to work with adults rather than kids. I also wanted to work on my spiritual life, and I really missed singing from my CSU choir days," she says. All of these desires led Cynthia to Trinity United Methodist Church, in her hometown of Denver, where she now sings in the choir and with a special audition group, and teaches English as a second language to adults through a mission program.

"What we are accomplishing as a church community, and supporting financially, really opened my eyes to other kinds of charitable work and the giving that is needed," Cynthia says. "You don't need a lot of wealth and assets to be able to give. You just need to see beyond yourself."

Cynthia's planned gift, in the form of an IRA, will be designated to three areas at CSU — the colleges of Liberal Arts and Applied Human Sciences and University Libraries. Her interest in these areas peaked when she toured the University Center for the Arts for the first time. She says she fell in love with the dance facilities and fiber arts collection and was in awe of the pipe organ, which was undergoing installation at that time. She also wants to support enhancements to library collections and remembers the library as one of her favorite places during her time as a student at CSU.

"I want to encourage others to take a look at what you are really passionate about, what resonates deep in your soul, and consider giving financial support to those areas. An institution like CSU does not go on without support, and I feel really blessed to be able to include CSU in my estate planning."