Photo by Joe A. Mendoza/CSU Photography
While Jude Cyr is looking forward to the next chapter of his life, he knows Colorado State University will always be a part of his story, from big events like publishing his first paper — a philosophical essay on epistemology and friendship — to the smallest moments spent on campus.
“It’s such a simple thing, but I have such fond memories of my early mornings at Morgan Library, especially in the fall — curling up in the corner with a cup of coffee and checking out piles of books on obscure subjects to try and sneakily work into my papers for class,” Cyr said.
As he prepares to graduate with degrees in philosophy and history from the College of Liberal Arts, Cyr also hopes to get his first novel published. Part of a trilogy he’s been working on since high school, the historical fantasy book combines his interests in fantasy, science and history.
But the path to graduation hasn’t been easy. During his time at CSU, Cyr dealt with severe depression and later began the process of gender transition. His professors say knowing his struggles makes his commitment to academic excellence even more impressive.
“Jude compiled an outstanding academic record — maintaining a tremendous GPA in two majors and taking several graduate seminars — all while undergoing gender transition,” said nominator and associate professor of philosophy Jeff Kasser. “In more than 20 years of teaching at three institutions, Jude is the best undergraduate philosophical writer I have ever encountered.”
Cyr credited the people around him, as well as CSU’s support services, as key to his success.
“I’m incredibly grateful for my support system — my family and friends who’ve helped me through everything — and also for the accessibility of trans healthcare and resources here at CSU,” he said. “That stuff saves lives.”
In their own words
Q. What was the most rewarding part of your CSU experience?
My college experience has fostered such tremendous personal growth in me. I think the most rewarding part of my experience has been that it’s helped me find myself. I came to CSU so unsure of myself and my direction, but the encouragement and mentorship of my professors has helped me grow more than I thought possible, both intellectually and personally. I’m coming out a much stronger person, and I think CSU gave me the tools to make that happen.
“I came to CSU so unsure of myself and my direction, but the encouragement and mentorship of my professors has helped me grow more than I thought possible, both intellectually and personally. I’m coming out a much stronger person, and I think CSU gave me the tools to make that happen.”
Q. What obstacles, if any, did you have to overcome to reach graduation?
I’ve been privileged in a lot of ways, but I think my greatest obstacle has been my own mental health. Up until very recently, I was dealing with severe depression, and there were a number of points along the way where I felt close to giving up. There was a long period — almost a solid year — where I could hardly bring myself to get out of bed to go to class or work. It was a low point, and bringing myself out of it took time and effort — I don’t think I realized at the time just how much effort. I spent a year in therapy, I did a lot of self-reflection. That was around the time I started to transition — that changed everything.
Q. What’s your advice to incoming students at CSU?
These days, my biggest piece of advice would be to just take it easy on yourself. College is really hard, and you feel a lot of pressure to always perform at your very best, to be firing on all cylinders at all times, but you really don’t have to. Build your class schedule and your academic life around what you want, and don’t let anyone pressure you into changing course. The only expectations you have to live up to are your own.