I entered my internship with El Pomar’s Regional Partnerships program eager to discover parts of Colorado that I hadn’t yet seen. I was raised in Durango and, for a long time, that was the only part of the state I knew. For most of my childhood, I was oblivious to the many regions surrounding me and the issues faced by their local communities and to be honest, I just wasn’t intrigued by issues like affordable housing and workforce readiness—what child would be, after all? Instead, I was captivated by sports, and that became my entrance into further exploration of the beautiful state of Colorado.
Growing up, sports acted as the vehicle that transported me throughout the state. Even at the young age of five, I spent weekends on the road, traveling to gymnastics meets in Grand Junction. During these trips, I watched breathtaking scenery zip by my window and marveled at how different our destination looked than my home, a mere four-hour drive away.
Over time, Grand Junction became the hub for my athletic career. Volleyball tournaments and diving meets brought me to the area countless times. I can recite all the small towns between Durango and Grand Junction and feel at home in Colorado Mesa University’s athletic facilities, including El Pomar Natatorium. At times, competitions took me to the Front Range where I developed a similar knowledge of the area, but a large portion of Colorado remained uncharted territory.
I hoped my enrollment at Colorado College would help me fill some of those gaps, but sports have continued to dominate my schedule and prohibited me from skiing the nearby mountains or exploring the Sand Dunes on the weekends. When I applied for the internship with El Pomar, I hoped for an introduction to new parts of Colorado, and my position with Regional Partnerships certainly fulfilled that aspiration.
Regional Partnerships is a unique program that allows community members from 11 different regions to serve on Councils and come together with El Pomar Trustees and staff to discuss regional needs. During my internship, I had the opportunity to travel to several parts of the state to attend these Council meetings. The various excursions introduced me to new communities and local leaders, and bolstered my geographic knowledge of the regions.
I learned more about my home state during my time at El Pomar than I ever anticipated, and this knowledge has profoundly expanded my understanding of Colorado’s diverse communities and the challenges they face. I am so grateful for an experience that helped me grow not only as a professional and a person, but also as a Coloradan.