Remembering Alanna Vincent  

May 2024

Josh Zaffos 

Alanna Vincent will be recognized with a posthumous Bachelor of Science degree in Geography. (Image courtesy Vincent family)

Alanna Vincent, Colorado State University student and a Geography major in the Department of Anthropology and Geography, unexpectedly passed away this winter and is remembered as an engaged and thoughtful student leader passionate about her indigenous heritage. Vincent would have graduated Spring 2024 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and her family will receive a posthumous degree in her name from CSU later this year. 

Born in 2003 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Vincent was a “third culture kid,” who grew up and attended school in Malaysia, but also Houston, Texas and Doha, Qatar, outside of her family’s cultures. The experiences helped her develop a love and acceptance of different cultures and global perspectives. She was also proud to represent and explore – through her interactions and her studies – indigenous peoples of Borneo as someone with Dayak and Melanau heritage. Vincent’s family’s tribute to Alanna shares additional information about her background and interests. 

Passions for Sustainability and Indigenous Cultures

Vincent came to CSU in Fall 2020 and chose to study Geography to further her passions toward sustainability and indigenous people’s rights. Pushing herself to engage in challenging and meaningful activities, she joined the President’s Leadership Program (PLP) and was pursuing a leadership studies minor. She was also Vice President of the Malaysian Student Association at CSU, and a resident assistant in a university residence hall.  

“Alanna was the gel of the [PLP] group, a quiet leader,” said Michael Buttram, an instructor and advisor with the leadership program and the leadership studies minor. “When she’d speak or voice an opinion, it was always well thought out and it carried a lot of weight with the cohort.” 

“She was an anchor for our group and one of the smartest people I’ve known,” echoed Sophie Orsund, a peer of Vincent in the leadership program who is majoring in Social Work (‘24). “Whenever Alanna would speak, she would do it in a way that commanded the room and got everyone to listen. For someone so quiet, she left such a huge impact.” 

Alanna Vincent at the Fall 2023 Anthropology and Geography Capstone Poster Symposium. Vincent won the Geography Distinguished Capstone Award.

“Always on Point”

Vincent left similar indelible impressions among Anthropology and Geography faculty as a student who was always prepared and one whom peers wanted to work with on discussions and projects. 

“Alanna was one of the hardest working students I’ve ever taught,” said Associate Professor Heidi Hausermann who had Vincent as a student in multiple courses. “In class, she brought this global awareness and broader sense of the world, including this community ethic of giving back, through her indigenous Malaysian heritage,” whether it was bringing friends and professors gifts back from visits to Malaysia or centering projects and activities on impactful topics.   

“She was quiet but funny and very smart,” Hausermann added, “and she was always on point,” often waiting at her desk at the start of class, highlighted readings or reflection papers set out in front of her. 

This past December, Vincent won the Distinguished Geography Capstone Award for her project, “Investigating the Impacts of Climate Change in Malaysia with a Focus on Indigenous Peoples, Their Land, and Their Culture” at the Fall 2023 Anthropology and Geography Capstone Poster Symposium.  

She outlined the physical and social/cultural impacts of climate change in Malaysia, and also contextualized contemporary change in a longer history of oppression and marginalization as well as within cultural perceptions,” said Ellie Andrews, Vincent’s capstone advisor and her instructor for Climate Change: Science, Policy, Implications (GR 410). “It definitely deserved an award for the combination of personal and global/ regional history. 

“Alanna was very clearly a ‘big ideas’ student,” Andrews added, “but she also cared about the details and refined her words and images until they were just right – a rare combination.” 

Vincent will be recognized and remembered with a posthumous Bachelor of Science degree in Geography in Fall 2024.