New Kids on Campus: Summer Session’s Pre-college Program

Dozens of high school students from around the country and the globe spent part of their summers here on campus, experiencing college courses via the Block Plan. As part of the Summer Session Pre-college Program, they enrolled in 11 of the 16 courses offered during Block B (a total of 289 undergraduate, graduate, and independent study students were enrolled that block).

Of the 49 pre-college students, 17 were here on scholarships, including two merit scholars. They represented 21 states and China, and almost all of the students lived on campus during their courses. Additionally, 11 students participated in the program during Block A this summer.

“I’ve been interested in pursuing physics in college although I was uncertain because it’s an uncommon major.” said Benjamin Weber, who enrolled in the Cosmology, Antimatter, and the Runaway Universe course during Block B as part of the Pre-college Program during Summer Session. “I enrolled in it so I could see how much I want to pursue physics in my higher education. I also was very interested in the Block Plan.”

“As program assistants, we’ve been able to develop a little bit of that CC community within this program by planning fun community programming and being role models” said Jaxon Rickel ’16, who worked as a program assistant with the Pre-college Program this summer. “It has been fulfilling to see the students overcome struggles and succeed on the Block Plan.”

During their time here, students also learned tips for applying to selective liberal arts colleges, practiced admission essay writing, hiked the Manitou Incline, and visited the Fine Arts Center as part of programming specific to academic and student life.

“The Block Plan works. It allows you a good period of time to study interesting topics with people who really know the material they’re teaching,” said Weber. “It’s such a beautiful campus, too. I love walking to class and seeing the snow-capped mountains silhouetting the skyline, or going to an observing session with my class and just looking up to see the universe in its majesty and beauty. To anyone interested, I cannot recommend this program highly enough.”

Pre-college students in class with Professor Shane Burns.

Pre-college students in class with Professor Shane Burns.

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Student-Faculty Collaboration Fuels Summer Research

Want to understand how language influences the interworkings of the mind? Ask Jake Brodsky ’15, a CC psychology major, who is preparing to present research findings on the topic at an international conference this summer.

“His presentation will be viewed by some of the actual researchers he’s cited in his research. Our students can really make an impact on the way people think beyond the CC environment,” said Kevin Holmes, psychology professor, who is working with Brodsky as part of the 10-week Summer Collaborative Research Program.

Kevin Holmes, professor of psychology, meets with his team of summer student researchers at a weekly collaborative meeting.

Kevin Holmes, professor of psychology, meets with his team of summer student researchers at a weekly collaborative meeting.

This summer, 26 students received funding through the Centennial Fund Faculty Student Collaboration Grant and the Mellon-funded Faculty Student Collaboration Grant. About 65 more, like Brodsky, received funding through other college research awards. The summer program supports faculty members in their research activities and provides students with first-hand research experience as undergraduates. The intent is to expose students to the diverse goals, research methods, and skills faculty use to conduct advanced research in their fields of study, prepare research reports of their findings, and present their conclusions to their peers in classes, at professional meetings, or in Brodsky’s case, to experts in his field.

Holmes says participating in this kind of intensive, collaborative research enhances the learning environment for every student.  “Doing research teaches you how to think in ways you don’t get in regular classes; just to be able to think through a problem, coming up with a question and determining how to test it,” said Holmes of working with students. Students in the program learn to solve problems, draw conclusions that can be defended, and tell the story of the research, which is what Brodsky is doing now as he prepares to present the significant findings of his research.

“You don’t have the pressures that you do during the school year; in the summer, the time is yours, you can sit down and think about the ideas, focus on the theories and the methods, and not worry about the deadlines,” Holmes said.

The collaborative nature of the program is at the core of why Holmes says it’s so valuable – both to faculty and to students.  “For a student to be able to make such a big contribution, it’s great. It’s not just the faculty member deciding ‘here are my research projects and here’s what you’ll do,’ but they bring in their ideas, often related to thesis work. We meet daily in the summer, to check in, to figure out the next step; each of us makes a contribution to the work.”

Brodsky’s research and resulting findings grew from his senior thesis project exploring how monolingual and bilingual adults differ in their views of gender. After graduation, he continued his work through funding provided by the collaborative research program. Holmes helped him apply for additional funds, once Brodsky was selected as a presenter at the Cognitive Science Society Conference in Pasadena in July.

Holmes is working with six students during the summer and while he says it’s a demanding load, the group dynamic helps the scientific, and learning, process. “Each individual student is outstanding, and bringing them together they learn from and help each other, and challenge each other,” he said.

“What the students in my lab are doing this summer are projects very similar to the graduate school experience,” said Holmes. “It’s so much more about the research than taking classes; they have to think carefully about their project and have the time to execute from start to finish. I’d like students to get involved earlier, so by the time they’re seniors, they can really take on more advanced research and extend it in new directions.”

Brodsky also encourages students to get involved in research earlier in their CC careers, and specifically through the summer program. “It’s probably been my favorite part of being at CC. It’s the opportunity to do research with a professor, independently, and the summer offers all of the fun parts of learning without the pressures of turning things in; you get to really learn for learning’s sake.”

Ultimately, Brodsky will work with Holmes to write up his findings for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. While he hasn’t made plans about his next steps yet, Brodsky said his experience this summer “makes me excited to continue in academics or to go on to grad school.”

Find out what subject matter other Summer Collaborative Research Program participants explored when they present their work at the second annual Undergraduate Research Symposium held on campus in the fall.

Shove Sound System Gets “Revolutionary” Update

The next time you attend a program or performance at Shove Chapel, go ahead and sit in the back. What ITS experts call “revolutionary technology” is now in place,offering a greatly enhanced sound system for the historic building.  “The sound quality is awesome,” said Jera Wooden, “We had no idea how clear and crisp everything would sound.”

ITS began working on the project about a year ago, recognizing the need for an upgrade to the sound system while also identifying very specific aesthetic and acoustic needs within the space. The Tectonic speakers are “cutting edge” said Randy Babb and Sean Roberts, members of the ITS Smart Spaces team who led the installation process. While traditional speakers distribute sound directionally, similar to the way light is distributed by a spot light, the new speakers use a flat surface to distribute the sound cleanly and clearly, with less echoing. Shove Chapel is one of the first buildings in the country to install this new speaker technology.

Visually, the flat speakers are unobtrusive in the historic space. They’re only 2.5 inches thick and five new speakers replace the 20 small speakers used in the old system. They were powder coated with a custom color to match the chapel’s stone walls and the extensive wiring (they’re wired speakers, but you wouldn’t easily notice) required a month of drilling, boring, and cosmetic work.

The new system launched with the 2015 Baccalaureate ceremony and has been used at weddings and other services throughout the summer. Now, controls are mobile, accessed via a handheld iPad, or iPads in two different stationary locations within the chapel, improving the ease of use, formerly done in one tiny control room, up a steep flight of stairs. “Weddings are so much easier, not constantly running up the stairs, and we have wireless microphones; it’s great,” Wooden said.

This $76,000 project was funded through an endowment used for regular maintenance of the facility. Take a listen here,  and a look at photos, from installation through the final product, below.

Green Labs Project Saves Energy and Resources

Anna Kelly ’16

CC science labs are becoming more environmentally friendly thanks to the work of several faculty members and the launch of the Green Labs project.

Over the past year, Barbara Whitten, professor of physics, and Emilie Gray, assistant professor of organismal biology and ecology, have led an effort to change CC science departments’ use of materials and equipment to encourage efficiencies in energy and resource use. Improvements in battery and paper recycling, as well as reducing energy used by refrigerators and ventilation equipment, are also part of the CC Green Labs project. Green Labs is also an active movement at colleges and universities across the country.

Whitten first brought up the concept during a brainstorming session at the end of the 2013-14 school year, and later presented the idea at a Sustainability Council meeting where Gray and several other faculty expressed interest in the project.

“I got interested in this project because if you look at energy density, or energy per square foot, all of the science buildings are at the very top of the list,” said Whitten.

She was particularly curious about why Tutt Science Center, a building constructed to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, was also using large amounts of energy. After some research, she found that science buildings are universally energy inefficient. She discovered the national Green Labs movement, working to make science labs more efficient.  Much of the energy use in science labs comes from equipment like the ultralow freezers and ventilation hoods.

Gray said CC had several projects already underway to increase sustainability in the science departments, but they weren’t coordinating with one another or collaborating to broaden their reach across campus. “We made a bunch of discoveries,” said Gray. “For example, in chemistry they are already using a lot of green chemicals and people don’t know about it.”

To further the program, Whitten, Gray and several other faculty members and students visited the University of Colorado-Boulder to learn about the Green Labs program in place there. “We got to see their labs and meet their program manager, who has tons of ideas on sustainability,” said Gray. “She had a lot of information that was incredibly valuable for us.”

Kathy Ramirez, Green Labs manager at CU, has since visited CC and given her input on how to improve the school’s labs. Whitten says she hopes the Green Labs initiative will reach beyond energy conservation.

“Mostly we’ve talked about energy, but really what green science means is a reduction in all forms of resource abuse,” said Whitten. “It involves water conservation and reducing the use of toxic chemicals without interfering with the teaching and research mission of the science departments.”

Whitten and Gray have collaborated with Ian Johnson, CC’s sustainability manager, and together they have set up a fund to assist in purchasing sustainable equipment. This fund has already been used to buy a high-efficiency freezer. Whitten, Gray, and other members of the Green Labs project will continue to make changes to the labs that will reduce energy and resource use. They also aim to be involved in plans for constructing new science buildings on campus in the future.

Peggy Daugherty, associate professor of chemistry, with a new high-efficiency freezer.

Peggy Daugherty, associate professor of chemistry, with a new high-efficiency freezer.

Congrats to 2015 PIFP Fellows!

Thirty-nine students will serve in fellowships this summer as part of the Public Interest Fellowship Program. The program acts as a matchmaker between CC students with an interest in the social sector and nonprofit organizations doing innovative work in the public interest. Often, this work involves policy, research, and advocacy. This year, CC has 20 summer fellows and 19 yearlong fellows.

Thanks to all faculty and staff members who submitted letters of recommendation on behalf of these students, and to the CC community who will support them in these endeavors.

Congratulations to all of the PIFP fellows!

Fellow term: Fellow name: Host organization:
Summer fellow Jane Finocharo ’16 ACLU of Colorado
Summer fellow Stefani Messick ’17 ARC of the Pikes Peak Region
Summer fellow Taylor Wright ’17 Atlas Preparatory School
Summer fellow Vanessa Voller ’16 The Bell Policy Center
Summer fellow Patricia Weicht ’16 Catamount Institute
Summer fellow Victoria Johnson ’17 City of Colorado Springs
Summer fellow Jessica Worley ’15 ClinicNet
Summer fellow Isaac Radner ’17 CO League of Charter Schools
Summer fellow Kimiko Tanabe ’16 Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Reg (COPPeR)
Summer fellow Megan Gillespie ’16 The Gill Foundation
Summer fellow Niyanta Khatri ’17 The Gill Foundation
Summer fellow Zita Toth ’16 National Conference of State Legislatures: Communications Division
Summer fellow Zoe Gibson ’17 *NCSL Education Program
Summer fellow Terrell Blei  ‘17 *NCSL Health Program
Summer fellow David Trevithick ’17 *NCSL Health Program
Summer fellow Julian McGinn ’15 One Colorado
Summer fellow Olivia Chandrasekhar ’17 Palmer Land Trust
Summer fellow Eliza Mott ’17 ProgressNow Colorado Education
Summer fellow Alta Viscomi ’16 TESSA
Summer fellow Celia Palmer ’16 Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado
Yearlong fellow Duy Pham ’15 The Bell Policy Center
Yearlong fellow Beza Taddess ’15 Colorado Children’s Campaign
Yearlong fellow Jordan Savold ’15 CO Children’s Immunization Coalition
Yearlong fellow Emily Michels ’15 CO Consumer Health Initiative
Yearlong fellow Zachary Stone ’15 CO Consumer Health Initiative
Yearlong fellow Alexander Meyer ’15 Colorado Fiscal Institute
Yearlong fellow Maggie Bailey ’15 Colorado Health Institute
Yearlong fellow Andrew Randall ’15 Colorado Public Radio
Yearlong fellow Fiona Horner ’15 Colorado Youth Matter
Yearlong fellow Alexandra Drew ’15 Concrete Couch
Yearlong fellow Audrey Wheeler ’15 Conservation Colorado
Yearlong fellow James Terhune ’15 Denver Scholarship Foundation
Yearlong fellow Cameron Johnson ’15 DSST Public Schools
Yearlong fellow Emma Shiestl ’15 Innovations in Aging Collaborative
Yearlong fellow Jeremy Flood ’15 New Era Colorado
Yearlong fellow Evalyn Grant ’15 OMNI Institute
Yearlong fellow Melissa Chizmar ’15 Pikes Peak United Way
Yearlong fellow Wan Hung (Harry) Yao ’15 Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains
Yearlong fellow Sarah Ross ’15 TESSA

 

Jacob Kirksey ’15 Selected as All-American in Forensics

The Pi Kappa Delta National Honor Society for competitive forensics hosts one of the largest speech and debate competitions in the country. It draws hundreds of competitors from colleges and universities across the United States, including CC’s own speech and debate team.

JacobKirksey_118 3.36.43 PMAt this year’s competition, the society inducted ten students as All-Americans including Jacob Kirksey ’15, the captain of the speech and debate team at CC. Selection as an All-American is the highest honor awarded at the national tournament, recognizing outstanding seniors with successful careers in forensics, and strong academic and service backgrounds.

“I have never witnessed a dual discipline and motivation for the arts and communication like I’ve seen in this young man over his four years at CC. Jacob’s ruthless determination to present only the best product is evidenced by scrapping a speech the night before competition and re-writing an entire persuasive just because the former ‘wasn’t good enough,’” said Sarah Hinkle, CC speech and debate coach.

He participated at the national level in speech and debate in each of his four years at CC, competing in a variety of events from team debates, limited preparation speaking on current event topics, prepared platform speeches, and acting. Kirksey says his strongest event is impromptu speaking, in which participants have two minutes to prepare a five-minute speech that interprets a given quotation, asserts a thesis, and gives examples on how to apply the quotation to daily life. He focused also on the after-dinner speaking event, preparing a ten-minute speech that incorporates humor into a serious topic and is persuasive in nature. He chose color-blindness and the Black Lives Matter movement for his topic this year.

“Winning and traveling across the country is wonderful, but the best part of competing is discovering your own personal growth,” Kirksey said of his experience on the team. “Every tournament you are pushed to do even better than you did before, and this creates a very important routine for always bettering yourself.”

Earlier this year, Kirksey and his partner reached the quarterfinals of the Pan American Universities Debate Championship tournament. They competed against hundreds of schools competing from across the Western Hemisphere, the equivalent of reaching a medaling heat of the Pan American Games.

“What has impressed me about Jacob is not his competitive success, as CC has a long history of successful speech and debate students, but his willingness to extend his expertise to the community and enrich the lives of young people in Colorado Springs,” said Julian Plaza, one of CC’s speech and debate coaches.

Kirksey also used the skillset he developed through forensics competitions to inspire and start his own company. Kids Are Dramatic is a social justice theatre company that works with Title I public schools, which include higher numbers of at-risk students, and with nonprofits and after-school programs, to create process-oriented drama classes for students to express themselves. He also serves as advocacy director at the local nonprofit group Imagination Celebration where he networks with professionals in the Pikes Peak Region to develop and evaluate educational programs.

Kirksey, a double major in economics and education, began his debate career as a high schooler in Lubbock, Texas, where he initially found his passion for the event. “Speech and debate created a space for me to succeed in high school and see my potential. It forced me to be confident and enhances nearly ever aspect of my academic and professional life.”

After graduation in May, Kirksey will begin the education policy doctorate program at the University of California-Santa Barbara. “If I didn’t have the skillset I developed and enhanced through speech and debate, I wouldn’t be as established and confident in my work. Hopefully I’ll be a professor at age 26.”

 

 

10 Things About: Drew Cavin, Director of the Office of Field Study

Drew Cavin
This is a new position at CC. What does the job entail?

My job and the new Office of Field Study were created to support faculty to teach off-campus field study courses.  I plan to do this through logistical and administrative means, as well as connecting faculty to pedagogical support and in-the-field resources. 

How do you think your position will impact CC?
I hope that my position will lead to an enhanced conversation about field study and all the amazing possibilities of the Block Plan. I hope to get more students out of the classroom into memorable, transformative academic experiences where they see the world in new ways and connect deeply to the material they are studying.

What are some of your goals?
I hope to get more courses involved in innovative off-campus experiences, and I want to showcase the amazing courses being taught at CC to the world. I plan to support off-campus experience by holding workshops, easing the way for faculty to do field trips from an administrative standpoint, and also finding funds for faculty to do trips.

You started here in August; what have you noticed about CC?
People here, from students to faculty to staff, believe that anything is possible. It’s amazing to have tremendous resources, but it’s all for naught if people don’t have vision.  There are plenty of amazing people at CC with no shortage of vision.

Tell us a bit about your background before CC.
I grew up in Irving, Texas. I went to Texas A&M University, fell in love with the outdoors and my future wife. We married as undergrads and then went on to grad school together at Clemson University, and then back to Texas A&M to do Ph.D.s. She put school off when we had our first child and I finished my degree in outdoor recreation and adventure education and went into the job market. I landed my first job at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and later moved to Young Harris College in Young Harris, Georgia. All of my degrees are in recreation and parks, and my dissertation research was on the intersection of race and outdoor recreation. I’ve led
numerous off-campus trips, focused on all aspects of outdoor recreation in society, and led immersive courses in outdoor leadership, teaching group and personal development through adventure activities.

What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had that play into your current role?
Personally, I remember having amazing learning experiences off campus when I was a student. The camaraderie with the other students and faculty, along with mind-opening learning experiences are the things that I try to consider when thinking about field study. Professionally, I am still in touch with students I took on field trips almost 8 years ago, and the experiences those students had still resonate with them personally and professionally. It is tremendously rewarding to be a part of something like that.

Who/what was the biggest influence on you?
My wife Jenny was actually a huge catalyst for me to pursue graduate school. She inspired a C+ student to go ahead and apply and after the first week of graduate studies, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in higher ed. It should also be noted that the departments we applied to really wanted her to come, and I pretty much rode in on her coattails.  I also read a lot of Edward Abbey, and his perspective on nature and preservation really influenced my desire to experience and protect and learn from our wild places.

What do you do with your personal time?
I spend time with my wonderful wife and our three rambunctious kids, Sam, 8; Lucy, 5; and Violet, 2½. We ride bikes, hike and camp, and try to get into adventures.  When I get a moment for myself, I spend it riding my bike on back roads or rock climbing.

What is your passion?
My passion is for the transformational experiences that young people can have in college. These can happen in class or at campus events or on block breaks with friends. College is one of the only rites of passage in our society, and I am passionate about students going off into the world as responsible, empathetic citizens. Students who get to see and experience the world firsthand, I believe, have a more conscious, open-minded demeanor, and tend to contribute to the common good with their lives. I am passionate about helping students realize these experiences.

Wild card: Can you tell us something about yourself that might be surprising?
My wife and I attempted a cross-country trip on a tandem bike (before kids) from Maine to Seattle.  Unfortunately we crashed about two weeks in and could not continue. We had gone about 1,000 miles and experienced a tremendous amount of kindness from the people we met and appreciation for nature from the sights we saw.

10 Things About: Don Bricker, Associate Director of the Career Center

Don BrickerWhat does your job entail?
I work with the Career Center team to ensure that we provide services to our students that enhance their professional development skills and tools to take advantage of opportunities. One of my primary responsibilities is the coordination of daily Career Center operations. Along with the director and other members of the staff, my job involves executing the components of the Strategic Plan involving the Career Center, working to help build relationships across campus and expanding opportunities in the business community. I’m also responsible for working to improve business processes, manage various projects and work with our student interns.

How do you think your position will impact CC?
I come to CC from the business community and, hopefully, provide the perspective of someone with a good understanding of what employers are looking for from our students. I hope that over time a significant amount of what I’ve learned throughout my career prior to coming to CC can be useful to students and colleagues.

Where did you work before CC and what were you doing?
Prior to CC, I was vice president for suburban publishing at Shaw Media in Illinois. Before that I worked as a newspaper publisher, and in executive leadership roles in media sales and operations. My background includes four years in Colorado Springs between 2000 and 2004 at The Gazette as vice president and associate publisher.

What do you bring to this job?
I bring extensive experience building my own career and working with numerous people to develop their skills and advance their careers. I get significant satisfaction from helping people tell their stories in ways that successfully connect them to opportunities.  

What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had either at CC or outside of it that play into your current role?
With more than 30 years of management experience, nearly all in positions which required recruiting and hiring, I believe I am able to help students and staff navigate the expectations and hiring process of prospective employers.

Who/what was the biggest influence on you?
My wife, Karen, has been the greatest influence in my life. She is always interested in making the most of life, having new experiences, and has a phenomenal work ethic. Since we met, she has consistently inspired me to work to become a better version of myself. I can honestly say that her contributions have helped me become much more successful in all phases of life.

What have you noticed about CC?
CC is a real community, much more so than I’ve experienced in private industry. Everyone I’ve encountered has a sincere interest in the best interests of our students and is proud of Colorado College and what it stands for. I really enjoy the Career Center team; they have been incredibly helpful, kind, and caring as I work to navigate a significant career transition.

Tell us a little about your background.
I am a native of the south side of Chicago (a lifelong White Sox fan) and have a degree in management. My wife Karen and I have three grown children and a 16-month old grandson, Caleb. I’ve previously worked in California (twice), Chicago (twice), Ohio, and Colorado. We decided long ago that we wanted to return to Colorado Springs permanently and we’re excited to home.

What do you like to do when not working?
I play softball as often as possible, and I enjoy golfing and spending time with family and friends.

Wild card: What is something people don’t know about you?
I’ve enjoyed comic books since childhood and am especially partial to Batman.

10 Things About: Dave Harker, Director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement

Dave Harker ATBWhat does your job entail?
As the director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement (CCE), I work together with academic and student life areas of the college to integrate curricular and co-curricular learning with community-based work. I work with constituencies on campus and in the community to build relationships and develop new initiatives and partnerships that connect students and faculty to impactful community-based learning, research, and volunteer opportunities. I work with faculty to develop and support community-based learning and community-based research projects. I also oversee the Community Engaged Leadership (CEL) Certificate program.
There has been a lot of transition in the CCE in recent years, but we will be back up to full staffing soon, and there is a lot of energy around civic engagement and community partnerships on this campus. I hope to expand and build upon the things that we’re doing well, and work to improve in areas where we have room to grow. My goal is to position Colorado College as a leader in the field of civic/community engagement.

You mention the Community Engaged Leadership (CEL) Certificate program. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
I’m incredibly excited to work with the CEL students. This cohort-based program, supported by an endowment from the Boettcher Foundation, is designed to assist students in developing their interests and skills in areas related to service, social justice, leadership, and public engagement. The group of roughly 12 students meets twice a block for lunch and discussion about collaborative projects involving staff, faculty, and community partners. At each meeting a different student is responsible for leading the discussion. This year we have an ongoing theme of incarceration and the criminal justice system. Seniors complete a CEL capstone project, which requires them to identify an issue of community concern, then design and organize a project geared toward solving the problem. Students are expected to develop critical reflection, creative problem solving, and multiple perspective-taking skills. CEL projects also should demonstrate responsible, sustained commitment to reciprocity and generate results that are accessible and useful to community partners.

Where did you work before CC and what were you doing?
I arrived at Colorado College in mid-November, a little more than one week after defending my Ph.D. dissertation in sociology at Boston College. My research looked at long-term service-learning volunteers, and the meaning these students attached to their work. I was particularly interested in whether these volunteers saw their work as connected to a sense of politics or larger social change efforts.  I taught a number of courses at BC, including Diversity, Community, and Service, Inequality in America, Poverty in America, and Introductory Sociology. For the last two years, I also taught Education for Active Citizenship at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University.

What do you bring to this job?
I plan to bring my passion and excitement for community engagement work to this position. I also believe my deep knowledge of civic engagement/service learning and a variety of experiences within higher education will inform my work. I truly enjoy working collaboratively with others, and I am looking forward to working with the many other great people and offices at CC. I also hope my training as a sociologist adds an understanding of the relationships between personal experiences and social structures that can contribute to meaningful community-based opportunities.

What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had either at CC or outside of it that play into your current role?
I’ve had a number of experiences over the years that inform my role as director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement. Before I began my graduate studies, I worked in the Office of Community-University Partnerships and Service-Learning at the University of Vermont. While I was at Boston College, I led a number of international service-immersion trips for students (to Bolivia and Nicaragua) and for faculty and staff (to Jamaica). I also organized and led workshops for students returning from other service-immersion trips to integrate their experiences into their academic and personal lives. A number of the courses I have taught have included a community-based learning component, and my research has given me tremendous insight into creating and maintaining opportunities for impactful community engagement. Overall, I’ve had many meaningful experiences in community-based work as a student, teacher, and professional, and I hope to provide these types of experiences, pathways, outlets, resources, and opportunities for students at CC to get involved in the community.

Who/what was the biggest influence on you?
I have been incredibly lucky to have many great people influence me during my academic and professional career. Diane Bates, one of my first sociology professors as an undergraduate, has been a constant mentor, role model, and friend. My advisors at Boston College – Lisa Dodson and Deb Piatelli – had a tremendous positive impact on my academic work and growth. I have worked with a number of wonderful colleagues at BC, The College of New Jersey, and Tufts University who have all shaped my work as well. And of course, the biggest influence on me, and my greatest source of strength, has been my incredibly supportive wife, Kelly.

What have you noticed about CC?
I have been struck by how supportive and welcoming everyone has been at CC. I have been able to jump right into exciting projects and conversations in my position, alongside wonderful, knowledgeable, understanding colleagues who have been willing to catch me up on what I need to know. I get the feeling that CC is an incredibly close-knit community, where I have already begun to feel at home.

Tell us a little about your background.
I grew up in Ewing, N.J., as the youngest of three children (two older sisters), to two wonderfully supportive parents who have always encouraged me to follow my passions and interests – even if those interests didn’t always makes sense to them). I am a first-generation college student, and attended undergrad at The College of New Jersey. I bounced around several different majors until I found my calling in sociology, which I pursued through graduate school. My academic path has been a bit winding, but always came back to the broad idea of individuals engaging in their communities around matters about which they care deeply. I am also passionate about issues of poverty and inequality – particularly around education, housing, and hunger.     

What do you like to do when not working?
My wife and I, along with our dog Ginny, a 10-month-old black lab mix, have enjoyed exploring the trails around our house and our new neighborhood in Manitou Springs. I like to stay active outdoors and look forward to all of the adventure and opportunities that Colorado has to offer. I enjoy reading, although I never seem to have enough time as I’d like to read for fun. I also love movies, particularly comedies or interesting documentaries, and can easily get sucked into a Netflix marathon.

Wild card: What is something people don’t know about you?
I had a LOT of part-time jobs through high school and college. My first job, when I was 15, was at Sesame Place – a Sesame Street theme park outside Philadelphia. I also worked at Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the Philadelphia Zoo, a driving range, state senator’s office, several restaurants, a church, retail clothing store, as a groundskeeper, an office assistant in the President’s office at my college, a tutor, a major-events coordinator, and a resident assistant  – and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few.  

The Soup Project – Rethinking the Community Kitchen

The CC Community Kitchen has changed and is now working with the community as The Soup Project at the Community Kitchen Club. The Soup Project offers students and guests a shared space to practice food justice and arts for social change each week. However, the change is not just in name.

Guests will be welcomed into Shove Memorial Chapel for a meal on the CC campus this Sunday, as they have each Sunday for more than 22 years. But the support CC provides for those in need now includes more educational programming, focus on nutrition, and structure.

An initial action plan had a Nov. 16 target date to move the kitchen out of the space at Shove Chapel. But through a collaborative effort, The Soup Project took shape and will now work to address the root causes of poverty, hunger, and homelessness through education, awareness, and advocacy.

A registration process for all participants, or members, of the Community Kitchen Club – all volunteers, students, and guests – began in mid-November. This provides accountability and empowers all to take ownership in solving these issues in the community. The format of the program has also changed; the focus now is on community learning, providing educational programming around art for social change, accompanying a nutritious meal.  All participants will have to abide by a code of conduct; a community safety plan and training for all participants are also new components of The Soup Project.

The Soup Project mission involves much more than providing a meal to those in need. It is a place where neighbors can come together to create a better community. Dave Harker, newly appointed director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement, said issues of security, integrity of the building, and the nature of the Community Kitchen are now being addressed. Meals are continuing for those who choose to participate in the programming component and dialogue is now underway to determine a new location for the future. Guests are already recognizing the change, and those who choose not to participate in the programming will receive a boxed lunch to take with them on Sundays in December, providing a meal to aid in this transition for the community.

The Soup Project is a collaboration between CC’s Food Coalition and Arts for Social Change Coalition, which is housed within CC’s Collaborative for Community Engagement. If you would like to learn more, contact Adison Petti: adison.petti@coloradocollege.edu.

New and potential partnerships in the community will be identified so students may continue to work on these issues and engage in purposeful ways with those who are homeless, hungry, and impoverished. In partnership with CC’s Innovation Institute, the Collaborative is encouraging students to have a larger and more lasting impact through The Soup Project Challenge. This challenge will offer $20,000 in award money to fund student-designed social innovation projects to address homelessness and hunger in Colorado Springs. Details about the criteria, application process, and deadlines are coming soon. The Soup Project Challenge kick off and information session will be held Dec. 10, at 5 p.m. in the Morreale Carriage House.