Have you ever named a university mascot? Juliana Valera has.
The integrative biology student won the “Name Your Mascot” contest for the brand-new University of Colorado Denver Lynx mascot. Thanks to her, we can now officially introduce Milo, the CU Denver Lynx!
The name “Milo” combines the well-known nicknames “Mile High City” and “Lower Downtown” to promote the unique location of CU Denver in the heart of downtown.
“I feel that—in addition to great educational programs—the urban location of this campus sets this university apart from the rest,” Valera said. “‘Milo’ is a short name but has lots of meaning.”
One of 528 entrants, Valera submitted her mascot name idea for fun and was beyond excited to hear that she’d won.
“I got the call on my way to class, and you could only imagine how surprised I was,” she said. “This whole experience is definitely something I will always remember.”
More than a Sports Mascot
“It’s not just for sports,” said Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President Natalia Gayou, who was involved in the mascot development process. “It’s about building more community and having people be part of something—not just going to class and going home, but having something to get excited over.”
Milo will spend much of his time at nonathletic events—at student spirit days, at local charity events and even in area schools—said Club Sports Manager Aaron Wilson, who will coordinate the mascot’s schedule.
“Club Sports are just a portion of the overall impact the mascot can have on CU Denver,” Wilson said. “In a unique setting like the Auraria Campus, the mascot gives our students the chance to show off some CU Denver school spirit and identify other CU Denver students.”
“This mascot is important, because our students want it,” said Raul Cardenas, associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs. “There was strong support from alumni, faculty and staff, too.”
The Magicians Behind the Mascot
“A mascot was one of my big initiatives as SGA president,” said Ronson Fox, a civil engineering student who led SGA during the 2011-2012 academic year. Fox credits current SGA VP Gayou with much of the work as well.
“There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye,” Gayou said. “It’s amazing to see how many things can come into play: What color is it going to be? What are we going to name it?”
The mascot development process involved:
- A mascot committee comprising representatives from the Student Government Association, the Club Sports program and the offices of Student Life; Outreach, Events and Alumni Relations; and University Communications;
- Surveys of students, alumni, faculty and staff;
- Student focus groups; and
- Many, many meetings and discussions involving various stakeholders.
“It’s been crazy busy, but it’s good busy,” Gayou said.
“I cannot tell you how proud I am of the students’ leadership, passion and commitment,” said committee member Khushnur Dadabhoy, PhD, director of Student Life. “They had a concept, and they made it a reality.”
Lessons on the Lynx
Since Milo became a reality, Gayou said she’s given friends and classmates a few history lessons on the Canada lynx, which is CU Denver’s official mascot animal. A lot of people think the lynx is extinct or endangered or that the Canada lynx is only found in Canada.
It’s true that the lynx disappeared from Colorado in about 1973. However this wild cat—distinctive for its long ear tufts—was reintroduced to the state in 1999, according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
“It’s a really cool creature,” said current SGA President Gordon Hamby. To raise awareness of the new mascot, Hamby made the desktop background on his laptop computer an action shot of a lynx leaping.
“Every time I open up [my laptop], there’s a big, bad lynx sitting there,” he said.
Gayou likes discovering the meaning behind words, and she was excited to learn that the root word for “lynx” means “light.”
“In the CU seal, it says ‘Let your light shine,’” she said, “so I think the lynx is perfect.”
Club Sports Manager Aaron Wilson and Mascot Coach Christopher Turner are still looking for mascot performers. Email them to become the next CU Denver Lynx!