Saturday, February 25, 2012

Colorful Colorado-Kaylee Benning

Colorful Colorado - Kaylee Benning
I'm a junior at Wartburg. I'm majoring in Fitness Management with a minor in Psychology and Leadership Certificate. Through deciding on my major, I have developed a deep interest in nutrition/dietetics and the combination of exercise in people's lives. I'm also very interested in the psychological side of nutrition and understanding why/how people develop the eating behaviors that they do and their comprehension of nutrition as an important component of healthy living. After Wartburg, I plan on getting my degree in dietetics and becoming a registered dietitian. In the meantime, I'm taking in a lot of varied and great experiences here in Denver to broaden my education and experience in the health and nutrition field. My internship is at the Downtown YMCA where I have started a nutrition and healthy eating class to target members and build an interest level in nutrition programming at the Y. This includes providing healthy eating information, nutrition advice and tips, recipes, and samples. I'm also learning a lot about the business side of the fitness industry which is quite different in a large organization like the YMCA in a big city such as Denver compared to my experience and exposure working at the W the last 3 years. In addition, I work with a nutritionist from the Community Programs Branch of the YMCA teaching nutrition classes in several schools throughout Denver ranging from second grade to high school. It has been a great experience so far and has really allowed me several opportunities to learn and implement nutrition in a variety of settings and to many different audiences.
Aside from my internship, my general learning continues to expand every week through the engaging classes we are taking here in Denver. I never thought I could so easily get involved and learn about social issues, politics, and various groups in such a short amount of time! With the help of Nelson and Bonita, I have been exposed to and able to participate in various organizations addressing issues of my own personal interests but also other topics that I would probably never take time to learn about otherwise. For my Community Engagement Project, I am volunteering my time and learning about a well-known food pantry here in Denver, Metro CareRing. This pantry receives all their food as donations from the largest and healthiest grocery stores in Denver. It is truly amazing the amount of fresh produce, whole grain items, and much more healthy food that people of Denver can get from the pantry to feed their families. This addresses the issue of food justice, especially in large cities where poverty is quite prevalent. It's really opened my eyes to the social issues surrounding us that we often don't consider in our everyday lives. I also have had the opportunity to follow a piece of Colorado legislation as a part of our Faith and Politics in America class. Continuing my theme of nutrition interest, I am following a bill about the regulation and registration standards of dietitians in Colorado. This has been yet another interesting and informative experience!
Even though we are very involved and busy with our internships and classes here in Denver, we do find time to take in the sights and all that the beautiful state of Colorado has to offer. My greatest experience thus far has been my first skiing attempt, and I'm happy to say that it was quite successful! I love having the mountains and snow within sight at all times while being able to enjoy the warm sunny, "running outside in shorts" weather several days a week. I also think I've become much more cultured being here with so many entertainment opportunities. I've been to the Denver Center of Performing Arts for a couple of great shows. I could go on and on about all the unique and new experiences that I have taken in while out here! Most importantly, I am proud of my own adjustments to the big city life, public transportation system, and eclectic personalities of the population here. Growing up in Waverly, Ia and then attending college at Wartburg, this is my first real experience away from home, and more than anything it has been a positive learning experience about myself. I miss my friends and family back home, but I know that these short few months here in Denver are teaching me life lessons that I would not get in the Midwest in the comfort of my hometown. I am so thankful and happy that I took advantage of this Wartburg West opportunity and am taking in all that it has to offer!
Take care in Iowa =)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hi from Incredible Denver! -Katy Wendt

Hi from incredible Denver!  

My name is Katy Wendt.  I’m a fourth year student majoring in Psychology with minors in English Literature and Spanish.  I began as an exploring student at Wartburg and over the years found my niche by creating a unique curricular blend.  During my sophomore year, I decided to pursue a legal degree so I began shaping my undergraduate experiences accordingly.  I had an internship at the Department of Justice in Rock Island where I learned about criminal law and legal proceedings in general, but I wished for something more in-depth.  Fortunately, Nelson and Bonita found a perfect placement site for me in Denver: Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Clinic (JAMLAC).  JAMLAC provides free legal advice and representation to indigent individuals in the Denver metro area.  A small staff of four attorneys, two paralegals, one victim advocate, and one administrative assistant manage 50 active cases each week!  JAMLAC assists low-income people in resolving an array of legal issues pertaining to immigration, bankruptcy, divorce, child custody, domestic abuse, landlord difficulties, and more.  The employees at JAMLAC exemplify true servitude and compassion, giving freely of their energy and resources to bring justice to marginalized clients.  They are also extremely encouraging and informative in respect to my learning experience this semester.  From understanding legislative acts to interacting with clients, they have taught me so much already this semester!  During my time at JAMLAC, I have accompanied our lawyers to court, translated victim statements, completed U-Visa certification requests to District and City Attorneys, filed petitions for divorce and allocation of parental responsibilities, and much more!
I have learned a lot through my classes at Wartburg West, too.  The city is definitely our laboratory!  I have explored a variety of urban issues through community events: the Martin Luther King, Jr. Marade, the Point in Time survey, the Downstream Neighbor Water Symposium, the play Two Things You Don’t Talk About at Dinner, the Transition Colorado Food Summit, and more!  I also recently attended a committee hearing at the Colorado state capitol concerning a House Bill which would allow at-risk youth and high school dropouts to earn a GED at community colleges rather than taking developmentally inappropriate courses at high schools.  For my Community Engagement Project, I am volunteering at Habitat for Humanity and learning about the affordable housing crisis in Denver.  I have my first house build this week and I am very excited for it!  Through these experiential learning endeavors, I have gained insight into many aspects of urban life not seen in Waverly or my hometown of Bettendorf, Iowa.
The entertainment in Colorado has also been amazing!  The last two weekends, I went snowshoeing and cross country skiing at Brainard Lake, a beautiful state park with winding paths through the woods and gorgeous views of the mountains.  I went to a country concert at the Pepsi Center with Brad Paisley, the Band Perry, and Scotty McCreery and received the surprise of my life when Tim Tebow appeared on stage!  I toured the Coors Brewery, the largest single site brewery in the United States.  I visited Leadville, the highest city in the continental United States and tried – and failed at – downhill skiing at Ski Cooper.  I toured Balistreri Vineyards and tasted wine made exclusively from grapes grown in Colorado.  And after living 21 years without seeing a live hockey game, I watched two: University of Denver vs. Colorado College and Chicago Blackhawks vs. Denver Avalanche!  The opportunities for fun in Colorado are endless, and I can’t wait to see what my next adventure here will entail!
For me, the most difficult part of spending the semester in Denver has been living so far away from my family and friends in the Midwest.  Residing 800 miles from Bettendorf, I don’t have the reassurance of being able to hop in the car and make it home in a hurry if an emergency occurs or I just need a weekend away.  Fortunately, I have communicated with my loved ones back in the Midwest through phone calls, emails, and Skype calls so it diminishes the distance somewhat.  I was also very blessed to have four of my closest friends visit me in Denver already!  Adjusting to city life has been slightly challenging, also, especially learning how to navigate the public transportation system and how to plan ahead to avoid potentially dangerous situations.  My worst experience was getting my car towed from the street.  I forgot to move it after I went to the NHL game and woke up to the horrible realization that it had been towed!  I also got my coat stolen from a bar downtown so learning life lessons in the city has been both demoralizing and expensive for me thus far!  But overall, my time in Denver has been unlike anything I have experienced in the past and even better than I could have hoped for.  I consider myself extremely lucky to have taken advantage of this opportunity, and I encourage everyone to come see Colorado for themselves!

Hope all is well back at Wartburg!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hello from Colorado- Holly Huser

Hello from beautiful Colorado!  My name is Holly Huser.  I am a 3rd year Business Administration major with a Management concentration and Psychology and Leadership Certificate minors.  I hope to work in the Human Resources area after college.  My interest in both business and psychology has sort of molded me to this direction over the past few years.  I have always enjoyed working with people and being the motivator in group situations to keep everything working smoothly and everyone working together and I hope that's the type of role I can play in HR someday.  My internship is at a non-profit organization called Mercy Housing in the HR department.  They are the largest affordable housing provider in the nation and their headquarters are here in downtown Denver in a beautiful high-rise building.  I have had such a great experience there so far this semester.  My supervisors are great and providing me with awesome learning opportunities that are so beneficial.  I am currently working on a project analyzing benefit participation in recent years that will be presented to the company's executive board to hopefully change and update their current benefits program, which I am really excited about!  Otherwise I work on smaller projects here and there and am being exposed to all areas of HR so I can get a feel for what specific area I will want to work in the future.

The classes some of us take with Nelson and Bonita are so interesting and engaging.  We have been shown so many different areas and taken part in different activities that many people who actually live here haven't taken part in or don't even know about.  Nelson and Bonita have so many connections with people and organizations to show us all of these interesting aspects about Denver and city life and how important it is to be involved.  I've just started my community engagement project with an organization that develops affordable housing (different from my internship) where I will volunteer hours with them and learn more about the organization and everything they do.  We also are all following a piece of legislation and getting involved with different political organizations through the rest of the semester.  Our classes really get us involved and give us experiences we wouldn't get back home, that's for sure!

Adjusting to city life in Denver after living in Waverly, Iowa my whole life was quite difficult at first but that is why I wanted to come out here in the first place.  I just absolutely love Colorado!  I don't think I would want to live in a city the size of Denver permanently, but being in this program has taught me many life skills that will be very important after college when I'm truly living on my own.  Learning the public transportation system alone felt like such an accomplishment! I will never take the luxury of having a car for granted again once I'm back home.  It's also opened my eyes to so many opportunities that a city holds not only for work or recreational activities, but to really get involved and give back and I have learned how truly easy that can be.

I will say that one of the highlights of my time out here so far was seeing Tim Tebow this past Monday!! I have to go to physical therapy once a week from my ACL reconstruction surgery I had in October.  The place I go to is very nice and there are many popular athletes that go there for therapy and personal training, but I have never recognized anybody yet.  Then, I was just going about my usual exercises and overheard someone point out that Tim was there with a personal trainer! I ended up doing some of my exercises literally 10 feet away from him! Unfortunately, I didn't have the chance to talk to him or say hi at all because he was busy working with his trainer and I decided it wouldn't be appropriate to interrupt since nobody else was.  Trust me, I have heard from everyone that that was "the biggest mistake of my life" and that I'll "never get the opportunity again" but truly just being at the same place as he was was a big enough deal for me!

Every now and then I miss home and the more peaceful sense of little Waverly and the Wartburg bubble, but this experience keeps us so busy and entertained that it's flying by already and I know I'll be back soon!  I can't wait to see what the rest of my time here brings but based on everything so far, I know it's going to be great!

Hope all is well J


Friday, February 10, 2012

Greetings from the Mile High City- Hannah Haupt

Greetings from the mile high city!  My name is Hannah Haupt and I'm currently a 4th year studying Social Work at Wartburg.  Wartburg West has been an eclectic and exciting experience! My placement is at Mount Saint Vincent Children's Home.  We provide residential and day treatment to children who have severe trauma histories. Most of the children have experienced things that I can't even fathom.  Their resiliency is beyond words. At Mount Saint Vincent, I have learned a great deal about how to effectively work with children and different interventions that can be used.  The facility also offers a plethora of services that encompass the biological, psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of the child.  Mount Saint Vincent provides play therapy, music therapy, animal assisted therapy, dance/movement therapy, occupational therapy, and art therapy along with traditional clinical therapy.  Each classroom has one teacher and one educational mental health worker.  The dynamic staff in the school is truly amazing!  The school focuses interventions on teaching the children effective coping and life skills.  Staff are also trained in therapy modalities that focus on the development of the brain and usage of proper interventions to use depending on what stage of crisis the child may be in.  Mount Saint Vincent is truly an amazing place!

My experience in Denver has been so exciting!  I am always finding something new and taking advantage of opportunities that I don't have back home in Iowa! The first week we were here Nelson and Bonita were gracious enough to take us up to Leadville, a small town in the mountains.  It was so great to have a taste of the city life, but also experience the mountain town culture a little bit.  The scenery in Colorado is just amazing.  Last week in my ID class, we were able to go to a panel discussion on how local farmers and community members are starting community gardens that donate proceeds to local food banks!  What a great idea! The panel emphasized the importance of developing a sense of community and how a community garden can help achieve that goal. 

The social work seminar actually takes place at a neat venue called Denver Urban Ministries(DENUM).  Denum provides job services, utility assistance, budget assistance, and a food bank to individuals who may live in transitional housing or who may be homeless.  Being a social work intern I admire all of the social service agencies available to individuals who are in need.  It is also very eye opening to learn about where the other social work interns are placed.  We have had the opportunity the last few weeks to visit other placements and learn about all of the different opportunities for social workers in Denver. 

This weekend I'm actually headed up to Breckenridge! I used to live in Alaska and one of my very best childhood friend attends the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, so we are going up with a big group of people!  Should be a great time!   I'm very excited to get out the city and enjoy the mountains a little bit!  We recently received A BUNCH of snow so I'm excited to take part in some outdoor activities! 

I hope all is well! Have a great weekend!

Peace and Love,

Hannah Haupt :)