I can’t stand my ears popping. My sinuses tend to run on the irritated side, so being a mile above sea level was certainly an adjustment. Yet, I had a great time in Denver at the PPIA/ UC Denver School of Public Affairs 2017 Summer Conference: Reaching the Peak of Public Service in the Mile High City.
Admittedly, I had a few misconceptions about Denver and Colorado as a whole. My friend Austin, from Fort Collins, always raves about how wonderful of a state it is. He was right–it’s certainly more than I envisioned. Denver was much more than the partial image I imagined: tumbleweeds rolling past the barren lands of the west.
Soon after landing, I hopped in a Lyft with a few other conference attendees and headed to my lodging for the weekend. The campus facilities were exceptional–clean, centrally located, and comfortable–and the staff were extremely kind. Having woken up at 5:30am EDT and without a meal that day, I was determined to meet my friend Shannon (from MVLF) for brunch at Snooze. Even though we had only been apart for a few weeks, it felt great to reconnect and vicariously relive my positive summer experience again.
Snooze embodies quite a bit of what I’ve come to understand Denver to be: quality in product, slightly hipster in presentation, and all around good vibes. Walking around 16th Street Mall was a blast. Live music filled the air with song (along with other scents…) and the youthful energy of weekend joy filled my spirit.
The actual conference was just as wonderful. The speakers and presenters were fabulous; a host of public officials, public servants, educators and the like came together to share their experiences in service. The CU Denver School of Public Affairs graciously gave us insight on applying to graduate school, life as a graduate student, and how to best prepare ourselves for post-graduate life.
This hit home for me. I’m at a point now where I’m starting to look beyond the years of Oberlin. Having someone clearly explain to me the difference between an MPA and an MPP was so valuable, as were the honest depictions–both favorable and otherwise–of life in public service. One of my focuses for next fall will be honing (really building) my quantitative skills, and I didn’t quite understand the need for strength in that area until this week.
My biggest pleasure at conferences is having the opportunity to meet like minded individuals who are interested in and dedicated to making a change in the world. Conference participants like Evelyn, Brianna, Sharline, Cameron, and Jordan continue to inspire me with the knowledge that there are other folks out in the universe who also have a vested interested in positively changing the world. Even further, it’s empowering to network with other students from underrepresented backgrounds who value policy and public affairs.
At the end of my time in whatever place I visit, I always pose the internal question of “Could I live here?” Denver was definitely a “yes,” and I look forward to coming back soon and exploring more of what this beautiful city has to offer.