Outstanding WCNR Graduate: Diego Tovar, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability

. Diego Tovar in Rocky Mountain National Park with a mountain behind him.
ESS graduate Diego Tovar in Rocky Mountain National Park with a mountain behind him.

Diego Tovar was inspired to find a career working in nature by visiting his grandparents.

“My interest in environment came from my grandparents and going to their house. They’re avid birders with a nice greenbelt in their backyard,” Tovar said. “They’re always outside, and they taught me about serving and maintaining nature.”

Although Tovar, a Udall Scholar, entered Colorado State University originally considering a career in veterinary medicine, his interest in nature and his passion for environmental justice and policy ultimately helped him make the decision to major in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability in the Warner College of Natural Resources and minor in political communication.

Tovar made the most of his time at CSU, having written his first-ever sci-fi novel called The Ascendants during his senior year. He also lived out his passion for environment and policy by leading student organizations as president of Warner College Council for two years, president of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences for over two years, and as a Warner College senator in the Associated Students of CSU.

As a senator and College Council president, Tovar wanted to make a difference on campus for those traditionally underserved and underrepresented in university settings, ethnically-minoritized and diverse students. Giving others a voice was something Tovar felt was his duty as a senator and campus leader.

“For me, it really bothers me when not everyone has a voice at the table,” Tovar said. “Everyone should be able to share their perspective and be valued in a conversation.”

Tovar and his fellow Warner College senator Rachel Jackson co-founded the Diversity and Inclusion Caucus, a body within the ASCSU that held space for diverse voices. As Warner College Council president, Tovar instituted a Clothing Donations Bill where Warner College students could donate clothing for other students in effort to make clothing more sustainable and give students in need more resources on campus.

In his time at CSU, Tovar also served as a Warner College Ambassador working closely on the Untold Stories with the WCNR Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and he was recently awarded the Robert Davis Honor Senior Memorial Award, a recognition presented each year to a senior who has maintained academic excellence and contributed significantly to Warner and the community.

Nikki Foxley, Tovar’s undergraduate academic advisor in ESS, said he was a standout student from the start. “I can’t say enough good things about Diego, his level of maturity, his drive and social responsibility, and being an all-around all-star in all that he has done.”


Diego Tovar in an American University shirt with trees behind him.
Diego Tovar in an American University shirt, the university where he will be getting his master’s degree.

In his words: A Q&A with Diego Tovar

Q: What are your plans after graduating?  

A: In the summer, I’m about to wrap up a second book that I’ve been working on, which is not a sequel to The Ascendants; it’s a separate series that I’ve started. Then in the fall, I’m starting my master’s degree at American University in Washington D.C., and it will be a master’s degree in global environmental policy.

Q: What is your dream job?  

A: I think my dream job is one where I’m making impactful environmental change on a community level or I’m directly engaging with local communities to build trust and support. I’d also really like to run for office one day, so two separate things there that can correlate.

Q: What has been your favorite memory at Warner College?  

A: That’s a tough question. My favorite memory, and it’s hard to think of just one, is making friends because I have so many amazing memories with them throughout my undergrad. They’re part of everything I did that was really impactful to me. Those memories all involved my friends either if it was doing something directly with them or benefitting from their support.

Q: What will you miss most about CSU?  

A: I’d say I’ll miss the faculty, staff and friends who I’ve connected with. I’ll miss the sense of community, the mountains and the nature and wildlife in Colorado, too. One of my hobbies is nature photography, so I’ve been really enjoying just going out onto random trails and taking pictures of wildlife.

Q: Do you have any advice for incoming freshman? 

A: A piece of advice I’d have is just go for it; don’t be afraid to take that leap and try that new experience that interests you. You’re not going to like every experience you have with an internship or a job, but from doing those experiences, you’ll find what you’re truly passionate about. It’s important to just embrace the unknown.