As a child, I was convinced that the tallest radio antenna on Cheyenne Mountain’s summit was the Eiffel Tower and the Great Sand Dunes were the Egyptian Pyramids. Knowing very little outside of Colorado, I re-imagined the world within the square borders of my favorite state.
However, after graduating from Cheyenne Mountain High School, all I wanted was a change of scenery. I found a new home in Spokane, Washington at Gonzaga University with a city that closely resembled Colorado Springs but with enough distance to broaden my horizons. During my study abroad semester, I decided to expand my world view even further, traveling 6,000 miles away to Buenos Aires, Argentina for five adventure-filled months in what is often called the “Paris of South America.” Yet, I constantly found myself yearning for the familiar Colorado mountains that I love so dearly.
During my search for a summer internship after my junior year, El Pomar kept emerging at the top of my list. In the shadow of Will Rogers Shrine and a mere 15-minute drive from home, I found myself more and more intrigued by the idea of returning to Colorado Springs. I was elated when offered the position as a communications intern, and over the summer I realized that coming home was the best decision I could have made.
My internship exceeded my expectations and importantly helped me grow a greater appreciation for my home town. During the first week of the internship, I attended a press conference for the unveiling of plans for the youth bike park under construction next to the Hillside Community Center and witnessed the value of public-private partnership in engaging local communities. Through my work on the #Celebrating80Years blog project, I interviewed and researched various nonprofits in the Pikes Peak region and gained a better understanding of how the city has evolved over time. In volunteering with QUAD Innovation Partnerships, I saw how the city is working to leverage local college students to address community issues like Permanent Supportive Housing or the redesign of Venetucci Farms.
All in all, my summer at El Pomar Foundation gave me a fresh perspective of Colorado Springs. I now know that the Eiffel Tower is a little farther than the winding drive past the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, but am grateful to have regained a bit of that youthful wonder for my beloved Colorado. Wherever the future leads me, I will always be proud to call this state my home.