In January 2014, Colorado College launched a series of new and diverse experiences for Half Block, the shortened academic session between Winter Break and Block 5. It was filled with opportunities aimed at helping students explore interests, develop life skills, and enhance existing abilities. The program proved popular, with more than 332 students registering for the classes. The opportunities — most of which were free and non-credit — were offered in addition to the regular academic classes available for credit during the Half Block.

The Vocab: Critical Approaches to Spoken Word Writing and Performance, a Half Block class, visited the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, home to this Dale Chihuly glass chandelier.

The Vocab: Critical Approaches to Spoken Word Writing and Performance, a Half Block class, visited the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, home to this Dale Chihuly glass chandelier.

The Half Block program is not new to CC, but many of the offerings were. Some were designed to build on the strong foundation of a liberal arts education and help CC students stand out as candidates for and contributing members of an organization.

Among the classes:

  • GMAT, GRE, LSAT, or MCAT test preparation
  • Career Choices in Health Professions
  • Using Social Media to Develop Your Personal Brand and Get Hired
  • The Vocab: Critical Approaches to Spoken Word Writing and Performance
  • IT Skill Building
  • Entrepreneurial Interest: Startup Boot Camp
  • Competent Public Speaking
  • Training the Street Undergraduate Wall Street Boot Camp: Financial Statement and Valuation Workshop

Rick O’Donnell ’92, chief revenue officer for The Fullbridge Program in New York and Boston, worked with Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students Mike Edmonds to help plan an immersive offering for students interested in financial services careers. An instructor from The Fullbridge Program, which offers professional development skills and knowledge, taught the class. O’Donnell, along with Colorado College Trustee Bob Manning ’69, came to campus for the networking reception held at Edmonds’ home.

Students learned the ins and outs of today’s working world in the Modern World of Work. Instructed by Career Center Director Megan Nicklaus and her staff, students on a field trip to Denver visited with alumni including: Eric Sondermann ’76, chairman of SE2; Cody Belzley ’02, vice president of Health Initiative, Colorado Children’s Campaign; and Brian Colonna ’00, Erin Rollman ’98, and Erik Edborg ’97, actors and co-founders of Buntport Theater. Students also participated in a hiring simulation with Peter Maiurro ’05, vice president of El Pomar Foundation, and heard a presentation from Angela Hines ’82, P’12, P’12, P’13 at the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

“These offerings provide opportunities for our students to develop professional skills that complement the liberal arts education,” said Nicklaus. Other classes, such as jewelry making, batik, weaving, and book arts called upon students’ creativity.

At an etiquette dinner held for students interested in brushing up on their manners, the table hosts included several CC alumni and friends, including: Laura Rosendo ’06, Tony Rosendo ’02, and trustee Heather Carroll ’89. In addition, 60 alumni attended networking events with students in New York City and Washington, D.C., held over Half Block.

In Patrick Bultema’s Entrepreneurial Interest: Startup Boot Camp, 24 students learned the fundamentals of running a startup business. It culminated in a trip to Galvanize, a Denver organization that creates “an innovation ecosystem” to give entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers their best chance of success in their creative endeavors. Bultema, startup guru and executive director of The Big Idea at CC, said the boot camp allowed students the chance “to get a feel for the culture and mode of operation of a startup company. While the first eight days with the students were great, the trip to Galvanize in Denver really solidified the experience for them.”

Many of the new Half Block experiences left a powerful impact on the students. Alexander FitzGerald ’14, who participated in the Startup Boot Camp, said, “The class was a fantastic experience. I got both inspiration and a practical set of tools to add to my entrepreneurial tool belt. Galvanize is one of the coolest buildings I have ever been in; the energy is very palpable. The culture that surrounds a hotbed of innovation like that is very enticing; I could see myself and other CC students fitting in really well. The class got a lot out of seeing real-life pitches, and a lot of us were thinking, ‘I could do better than that.’”

The new Half Block opportunities lasted one to nine days, and will continue to be an integral aspect of the Half Block experience. As the college moves forward with new offerings, keep an eye out for Half Block 2015!