From Bearcat Arena to Garrett-Strong, Cassandra Alfstad bustles from one activity to another.
When Alfstad started looking at colleges it boiled down to three things to make her pick being a Bearcat.
“The campus is beautiful, the color guard is great and the biology department is great,” Alfstad said.
Alfstad has been doing color guard since high school. The color guard is the group of people with the marching, spinning and tossing flags in time with the music.
“I did color guard from my sophomore year to senior year and was my high school captain my senior year,” Alfstad said.
Alfstad was always part of the marching band, playing instruments such as the oboe and alto saxophone, but had her sights set on the guard. After spending her middle school years playing music, she decided to give the visual aspect a try.
“I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” Alfstad said. “I want to run around and toss flags in the air. I felt like I wasn’t coordinated enough to march with an alto sax, but apparently I can toss a flag in the air and catch while marching.”
Color guard is a passion Alfstad carried with her from high school to college. The transition to the college guard experience compared to her high school years seemed completely different to her until she began to relax.
“After I got to know the team here, I made it on the team and I was like ‘Wow, this is what it’s like being part of a family. We’re all one, big family.”
Alfstad grew up in Indianola, Iowa where her love of animals flourished as she spent much of her time outdoors. Her love of animals is what led her to her majors.
Alfstad is a double major in general biology with an emphasis in zoology and wildlife ecology and conservation.
“Whenever I was little I would watch Animal Planet, so I guess that’s what got me into my major,” Alfstad said. “My parents are very outdoorsy people. My dad is a biology teacher, but he likes to experience it through the books, whereas I would be trying to pick up the snake.”
Alfstad wants to be a naturalist and got hands on experience over the summer with an internship. The experience helped solidify her future goals.
“It’s what I want to do as a big girl job,” Alfstad said. “I would work at a State or Natural Park, check out the local population of flora and fauna in the area. I would kind of monitor it and explain it to the public. I would do a little bit of programming. What I really want to be is a primatologist.”
A primatologist is someone who studies primates. One of the most famous examples is Jane Goodall.
“I want to work with monkeys and apes. I want to study their intellectual capacity. I would love to get my masters in biological anthropology,” Alfstad said.
Alfstad is active in her majors as a member of Beta Beta Beta honor society and a Supplemental Instructor of Professor Bowlin’s general biology class.
However, Alfstad can be seen at more than just Garrett-Strong. She also spends most of her days at the football field, a flag in hand.
“She’s fun and friendly and seems to really make connections,” masters student and Bearcat Winter Guard member Kylie Mattke said.
However her biggest admirer on the team appeared to be her co-captain.
“Cass and I met freshman year during band camp,” Alfstad’s co-captain and bestfriend, Alexandra Christie said. “There were 10 of us freshmen and we were a little terrified of everything.”
Christie and Alfstad, however, didn’t become close until sophomore year.
“That’s when the crazy let loose,” Christie said. “We did everything together. She was my support system when it came to Northwest and continues to be while we figure out adulthood. It has always been exceptionally easy to bounce ideas off of each other, so when we became co-captains and we realized we had similar goals, we couldn’t wait to start choreographing together,” Christie said.
The two wanted to create a high standard for future color guard members to grow from. Christie admires Alfstad’s ability to stay positive.
“Cass is a great leader,” Christie said. “Sometimes the two of us can get off topic in practice, which can cause mass chaos, but we love what we are doing. Cass is the kind of leader to look up to. She is always willing to stop, slow down and re-explain something when just one person needs it. She creates the positive atmosphere we go to at 3 p.m. every weekday. To create that kind of atmosphere with 17 other college females is unbelievable.”
Alfstad also made it a point to be a part of other clubs and tried to expand some of her other passions.
“I tried to get our fencing club up and running, but it fell through,” Alfstad said. “I mean it’s a pretty unique thing, and I don’t think people know how much work goes into actually learning how to fence.”
Alfstad is self-admittedly “eccentric” but takes pride in who she is. She takes people's expectations of her and tosses it in the air.