Featured Alumnus: Bill Bollendonk
Somewhere around 60 years ago, Bill Bollendonk packed up from New York and came to Colorado to study here at CU. His first night at the university was spent sleeping on a pool table; his room wasn’t ready yet. Needless to say, things were very different when my grandfather attended this university!
Not all things change, however. He can still point out the window of his bedroom from when he lived in Baker Hall and he made money working at the Sink. He spent his time studying to be an engineer, and it is here that his most timeless story lies.
Somewhere within his career as a CU student, Bill Bollendonk was sitting inside what is now Ekeley Sciences, but was then the university’s engineering building. He looked up from his engineering coursework to gaze out the window when he happened to catch a glimpse of a woman named Jeannie. Straight out of a movie, but classic as can be, Bill ran out to meet who would later be his wife.
Finding love on campus isn’t a requirement of being a student or something that every student does. It’s not something to check off the list before graduation day approaches. My grandfather’s story does remind me, however, just how alike students are whether from 60 years ago or from today: we are all searching for something meaningful in our lives.
After marrying my grandmother, Bill went on to work for NASA and helped design the Manned Maneuvering Unit, the flight pack astronauts use in space. His career with NASA was long and he was very accomplished. He also has passion for restoring MG cars, something that really took off after his retirement.
I think another thing that ties students from different times together is our dream to one day leave a legacy behind us- whether great or small. This seems a daunting task, but I often remind myself of my grandfather who spent his first night of college sleeping on a pool table. We have no way of knowing it now, but we are all set on a path to leave our own legacy and I know CU and the Honors Program is priming me for that!