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Dan Strawn

B.S. Aerospace Systems Engineering '14

Survivor. Scientist. Roadrunner.

An alumnus proves the sky is the limit with small steps and an eye toward helping others.

Dan Strawn dreamed of rockets as a child. They could help him escape a stepdad who constantly berated him: “You’re worthless! You’ll never amount to anything!”

In 2000 and part of 2001, Strawn, who grew up in Parker, Colorado, was homeless – caught in an ugly cycle: sleep on a friend’s couch, then sleep in his car. Repeat. “I moved to Phoenix for a couple of months and lived in a homeless shelter,” said Strawn. “Then I decided to move back to Colorado and that’s when I started to get my feet under me.”

In 2010, Strawn enrolled in aerospace studies at MSU Denver. “I’d always loved rockets and wanted to work with them and decided right then that was what I was going to do.”

From the start of his time at MSU Denver, Strawn realized education had the power to change his life. But he also understood he wasn’t the only one facing difficulties in life.

The next step for Strawn was obvious: “I wanted to find people who were in the same situation I had been in a few years ago.” When he joined MSU Denver’s Urban Leadership Program, they created Operation Youth Empowerment (OYE) to mentor Denver-area at-risk students.  They visited organizations serving homeless youth to share their own personal stories of how they overcame the odds to end up in college.

Strawn graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s in aerospace systems engineering. Today he is an actual rocket scientist at United Launch Alliance, a Colorado-based firm that makes space missions a reality.

This is where lives are transformed. Where new paths unfold. Where the future spreads out in front of you.

At MSU Denver, we celebrate that each person’s road is different. Where will yours take you?

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