Outstanding Grad: Beth Trent-Ringler, College of Natural Sciences

Beth Trent-Ringler

Photo by Joe A. Mendoza/CSU Photography

Every day, Beth Trent-Ringler’s brain stretches in a million directions. She’s finishing up a challenging degree in chemistry. When she graduates in a few days, she’ll also have a creative writing minor to her name. She’s the mother to five children, two of whom are also in college, and she navigated homeschooling and childcare during a pandemic. Through it all, she’s known her share of loss, as well as the courage to carry on through immense pain.

After 16 years as a stay-at-home mom, the New Mexico native’s life was upended in 2016 by the sudden loss of her husband. As she regrouped and considered her next steps, she realized education, along with a desire to do something important, would chart her path forward. After meeting and marrying her current husband, she followed him to CSU as he pursued a Ph.D. in physics, and she decided to pursue an undergraduate degree from the College of Natural Sciences.

Trent-Ringler, who turned 43 this year, remembers the exact moment she decided to study chemistry. During her first semester at CSU, her late husband’s sister, a beloved member of her family, contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and died. Trent-Ringler was taking Life 102 with Erik Arthun at the time, and they were learning about protein folding – the biological mechanism associated with neurodegenerative diseases like the one that took her sister-in-law’s life. “I became immediately obsessed with the chemistry end of biology,” Trent-Ringler recalled. “I switched up my major almost immediately.”

She has learned a lot of chemistry since then but still gravitates toward the organic and biological side of the field; for her senior seminar talk, she reviewed a paper on the subject of protein mutations and misfolding related to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS.

As a research assistant in the lab of Professor Debbie Crans over the last year, Trent-Ringler presented research at the 12th International Vanadium Symposium in 2021, has contributed to projects on anticancer agents and fundamental coordination chemistry, and will co-author two or more publications with the Crans group. She will also receive the Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry from the American Chemical Society.

In their own words

Q. What experiences in your life or at CSU have required you to demonstrate courage?

I lost my husband unexpectedly in 2016, and after 16 years of being a stay-at-home mom to our five children, I found myself in uncharted territory. As I struggled with how to move on after such a terrible loss and what to do with the rest of my life, I happened upon new connections, formed new relationships, and found myself with an incredible desire to do something important. I decided to pursue a science degree which, for me, took a lot of courage in and of itself. Having been out of school for a long time and never having performed well in math or science courses when I was in school, I was pretty terrified to be jumping into such difficult subject matter.

Q. What was the most rewarding part of your CSU experience?

The most rewarding part of this experience has honestly just been getting through it. Jumping back into school at this stage of my life and with all the responsibilities I have at home has been such a challenge. I feel proud of all I’ve learned and all the challenges I’ve overcome in these few years. Of course, the pandemic gave everyone a whole host of additional challenges, but it does feel really rewarding to get to the other side and earn my degree.

“I feel proud of all I’ve learned and all the challenges I’ve overcome in these few years. Of course, the pandemic gave everyone a whole host of additional challenges, but it does feel really rewarding to get to the other side and earn my degree.”

—Beth Trent-Ringler

Q. What is your advice to incoming students at CSU?

Don’t be shy and don’t be afraid to reach out. Both the faculty and your fellow students here at CSU are really wonderful, and they care about your success. I have forged some great connections in my last year and half here at CSU, and I think my only regret is not reaching out and getting involved sooner.

Beth Trent-Ringler's five children

Beth Trent-Ringler’s children.

Outstanding Grads Spring 2022

The Class of 2022 represent the very best of Colorado State University, showing courage in the face of adversity in the pursuit of their degrees. Read more stories of some of the outstanding students who are graduating this spring. read more