University of Colorado student Cassie Hickman stands with her father, John Hickman, holding their family tree, which she made as part of a class project. Cassie Hickman is a fifth generation Buffalo, and will receive her degree at CU behind her father, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandmother.

University of Colorado graduating senior Cassie Hickman will become Buffalo alumnae Friday morning, following in the footsteps of her father, her grandparents, her great-grandparents and her great-great-grandmother.

Hickman joins the 23 members of her family who graduated from CU in the 127 years since her great-great-grandmother started the family trend.

After growing up in Boulder around so many CU alumni, the fifth-generation Buff said she didn’t stand a chance against the alma mater that won over so many of her loved ones’ hearts.

“It’s engrained in basically every part of my life at this point,” Hickman said. “CU is just in my heart and there was no escaping it.”

Hickman said she’s seen photos of her black-and-gold onesies and remembers toy buffaloes lining her childhood bed.

“I was born a Buffalo — it’s just in my blood,” Hickman said.

As a senior at Boulder High School, Hickman said she fought her loyalty to the Buffs and applied to a school in Massachusetts, where she spent her freshman year before returning to Boulder.

“I wanted to do something wild and different and I’m glad I did because it helped me realize how important CU was to me and my family,” Hickman said.

Hickman said her parents were very supportive of her discussion to go out-of-state despite their love for the school. But that did not keep her father, John Hickman, from celebrating when she finally saw the light.

“It was not a goal for me to get my kids to go to CU, but it was fantastic when she came home,” John Hickman said. “What a great moment.”

Before enrolling at CU, Cassie Hickman said she visited Old Main — the oldest building on the Boulder campus — where she saw photographs of her great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother wearing long dresses and holding basketballs.

“They both played for the Lady Buffs and that was their uniform back then,” Hickman said, giggling. “It was really cool to see them there.”

The family attends most women’s basketball games in full Buffalo garb, she said.

The bookshelves in Hickman’s home display CU yearbooks from 1915, when her great-grandparents graduated; 1940, when her grandparents graduated; and 1988, when her father graduated. Hickman’s great-great-grandmother graduated in 1885 with the university’s third graduating class and before there were yearbooks, she said.

Hickman is excited to add the 2012 yearbook to the family’s collection.

The family is planning a CU-themed party this afternoon, but, first, Hickman will join her cousin on Folsom Field, donning a black cap and gown and waving to more than 20 family members in the bleachers.

“I can’t wait to celebrate all our Buffness,” Hickman said as she described her excitement for that “magical moment” when she’ll move her tassel, proclaiming herself a “forever Buff.”

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