Colorado State Univeristy College of Liberal Arts Development Council member Linda Cates
Colorado State Univeristy College of Liberal Arts Development Council member Linda Cates

Linda Cates arrived at CSU in 1967 as a 21-year-old transfer student from the University of Colorado. She was married with an 18-month-old daughter to support and had no financial means to pay for college other than work-study jobs and student loans.
At the time, no scholarships existed to help nontraditional students. “I certainly could’ve used that kind of financial help,” Cates says.
Instead, she put herself through school while working part-time and found refuge in the Department of Speech Arts (now Communication Studies). Three influential professors — Jack Gravlee, James Irvine and Robert MacLauchlin — inspired her to see a different future for herself.

“Back in 1964 when I graduated from high school, women didn’t have the career choices they have today,” Cates says. “You could be a nurse, secretary, teacher, or stay-at-home mom — that’s all I saw for myself.”

For Cates, the academic rigor, personal attention, departmental camaraderie and mentor encouragement at CSU helped her grow beyond culturally prescribed norms.
She earned her B.A. in 1970 and dove into graduate studies. For the first time ever, she found herself considering the idea of earning a Ph.D. and becoming a college professor. She loved the material she engaged with and the people who opened her eyes to the world. She earned her M.A. in 1972.
After five years of living in student housing and juggling a heavy load of school, work and being a mom, Cates was ready for a break. She found a job teaching speech communication and mass media at the high school level. It helped pay down half the principal on her student loan. Her daughter grew. Cates divorced and remarried. But she stayed committed to education.
The shift in confidence Cates experienced at CSU is something she still speaks about today, and with great pride. “Those men made a true difference in my life,” Cates says. “They made me believe in myself.”