After she graduates from Colorado State University this month with a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology, Griselda Landa-Posas will join the Peace Corps. If she hadn’t been accepted, she hoped to return to work for the National Park Service in Alaska, where she’s had some of the most amazing adventures in her life.
A little more than a year ago, she wasn’t even sure if either would be possible.
In August 2018, Landa-Posas was biking to work on South Overland Trail when she was hit by someone driving a vehicle and thrown into a guard rail and landed on a barbed wire fence. She suffered a concussion and sliced open her right arm and leg. Her femur was broken in 10 places, and her right hip was fractured.
The driver of the vehicle left the scene and was never found.
A woman in a nearby house heard Landa-Posas’s cries for help. Another woman out for a morning jog placed tourniquets on her arm and leg to help stem the blood loss.
“It’s so hard to describe,” Landa-Posas said. “It’s a really scary place to be. I was all by myself, and I was just covered in blood. I couldn’t figure out how long it had been, or what happened.”
Over the course of the next two weeks, she would undergo five surgeries.
“My surgeon told me it was one of the biggest trauma injuries he’d ever treated,” Landa-Posas said.
After surgery, she was transferred to a rehabilitation facility for two weeks, then moved in with her parents, where she continued to receive medical care for three months. She had to take the semester off from school to recuperate, and the financial burden was heavy.
“I realized I’m a lot stronger [than I thought], since it was months of so much pain, combined with uncertainty about my future,” she said. “Now, I feel so grateful. There was this moment where I thought I would never be able to do field work and carry a heavy pack again. Knowing that maybe those were all things I’d have to change was a really scary thing to go through.”
Through it all, Landa-Posas, a first-generation student from Aurora, Colorado, felt the support of her CSU Ramily. Students who she said weren’t necessarily close friends took the time to visit, and wrote heartfelt notes. When she returned to school, friends from The Spoke built and gave her a new bike. Her friends from the Native American Cultural Center at CSU launched a GoFundMe, which raised more than $10,000.
During her time at CSU, Landa-Posas gave back to the campus community in numerous ways. She served as assistant director of environmental affairs for the Associated Students of Colorado State University, and was vice president of the Engineers without Borders student chapter. Landa-Posas also held leadership positions in The Wildlife Society and The Society of Conservation Biology.
She took part in several bioblitz events, where researchers, students and citizen scientists visit a national park or area and count as many species as possible in 24 hours.
Landa-Posas’s field work was supported through a Siegele Conservation Science Internship, a program through the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, part of the Warner College. In addition, she worked at the CSU Listening Lab, which aids in the preservation and understanding of natural soundscapes.
“Getting all the support from the Warner College community and the Native American Cultural Center really meant a lot,” she said.
This summer, Landa-Posas returned to hiking and doing field work. She rides her bike regularly.
Emeritus Professor Rick Knight from the Warner College of Natural Resources, who has known her since she arrived on campus, reminisced about working side-by-side with Landa-Posas.
“Whether the day was long, the work was hard or the weather unwelcome, Griselda always had a smile, a cheerful word, and the will to inspire others,” he said. “In the years to come, she will represent CSU’s tradition of stewarding land and water and recruit young people to attend our university. Today the world is a better place for all she has given and all she will give in the years to come.”