Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Livin' in the Fast Lane - Kayla Holbach

Being a small town Iowa girl making the move to Denver, Colorado has been an incredible adjustment. Living in Denver is noisier, brighter, and I just can’t seem to take a breath of fresh air. However, the change has been very beneficial to me. I have been introduced to new things and situations both voluntarily and involuntarily, some for the better, some for the worse. One of my experiences that has been for the better is my internship at Metro State University.
As an intern at Metro State University, I have been working in the athletic department. I have been introduced to many different tasks, both working directly with the athletics and all the things that go on behind the scenes. A couple projects I have been working on directly is setting up halftime activities, promotional marketing, and scheduling the events. I have put together multiple games for fans to play to help increase audience participation at both soccer and volleyball events. So far, all the games I have put together have been a success with both sports. In the upcoming weeks, I will be getting involved with more of the games and working at the different events. Helping with set-up, working during the game, and organizing the halftime events are all tasks I will be dealing with.

Although Denver is not home, I have been able to make the adjustment fairly easy. It was easy to get to know the area and what you are able to accomplish within walking distance. One of the hardest things to get used to was having to pick up groceries and run errands by only walking.  However, I am pretty used to it now and walking 3 or more miles a day is a normal thing for me.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Exceeding Expectations - Marcela Fitzpatrick

Marcela is one of four students from Augustana/Rock Island participating in the Wartburg West program this fall. 

It’s been four weeks, and Denver has already exceeded all of my expectations. During my short time here I’ve gotten to explore downtown, shop to my heart’s content, and eat just about anything you could imagine. It’s great that Colorado is so diverse; I really enjoy the fact that I can enjoy a night on the town, and go hiking in the mountains all in the same day. Being in Denver has influenced me to try things I don’t think I would’ve otherwise had the opportunity to do if  I’d stayed on campus. I went white water rafting on the Arkansas River in Leadville (just 2 hours outside of Denver), through some pretty intense rapids with 3 of my friends for the first time. It was definitely one for the books and I would strongly encourage anyone to try it if they have the opportunity. I also went tubing down Clear Creek in Golden, just thirty minutes outside of Denver. Like I said, there are an infinite number of things to do in Denver, and if you find yourself bored, you’re doing something wrong.

Besides all of the extraordinary experiences I’ve had, most of my greatest memories happen at work. My placement is at the UC-Denver Anschutz Medical Campus. I’m a Neuroscience/Biology major interested in pursuing clinical research. I was placed in the Pharmacology/Toxicology Department, in the Freed laboratory. This lab’s research is focused on Parkinson’s Disease (PD), the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease in the world, next to Alzheimer’s. I love coming in everyday to learn new techniques and procedures in the lab, not only because I’m gaining valuable experience for my future but also because I get to aide Dr. Freed and his extraordinary staff in helping find a cause for PD. I can’t wait to see what the next 7 weeks have in store for me, I can’t imagine things getting much better than they are now, but I’m up for the challenge. And like many of the previous bloggers have mentioned I wouldn’t for a second regret my decision to apply to the Wartburg West program. It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience that I feel will positively impact my future. I advise any student that is wondering what its like to live in a big city while also gaining valuable internship experience for yourself to consider applying for Wartburg West.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Life from a Different Perspective - Kellie Solberg

            Denver has been such a blessing to all of us participating in Wartburg West.  Living in the big city has definitely been interesting, to say the least, and we have enjoyed the grand beauty of the Rocky Mountains during our weekend retreat to Leadville.  It’s been a lot to take in, especially for those of us from small, Midwestern towns.  Everything seems to be bigger, faster, and more chaotic than back home.  However, I want to focus on a much smaller and highly overlooked area – the microscopic world. 
I have the wonderful opportunity intern in both the horticulture and research departments at the Denver Botanic Gardens this semester, which has been awesome thus far!  Recently, I was helping out one of the full time researchers at my internship with separating some aquatic plant samples.  The sample included two stinky Ziplock bags of mostly Duckweed collected from a pond in Adams County.  At first glance, all I saw was a bag full of tiny Duckweed plants.  As I leaned in closer to see what the researcher was having me sort out, I saw tiny green specks – that was the flower of interest and what I had to separate from the rest of the pond sample.  Wolffia is the world’s smallest flower, and I was looking right at it, even though I could barely see it with my naked eye.
I was set up with the highest quality microscope I have ever used, and through that lens was easily able to locate the small, spherical Wolffia from the larger, flat, Duckweed.  Looking through a microscope for seven hours tends to make your eyes feel like they’re “bugging out,” but it was absolutely worth it.  Why?  Because I saw things I wouldn’t normally see without the microscope.  I have never been quite able to appreciate a Platyhelminthes flatworm so much before that day, despite those previous freshman biology lab experiments using the same specimen!  The way it moved through its tiny, watery world was fascinating.  Another creature I enjoyed observing was a small snail sliding along small sticks and Duckweed stems as I silently invaded his private world.  That snail moved with such grace!  And I’m pretty sure he or she smiled at one point, which was beautiful!  I also saw a plethora of aphids, mostly on top of the water, but some were sunken because they had died.  From the naked eye, they looked like tiny moving dots, but under the microscope they had definition and some even had some creative designs on their backs!  Finally, I saw a bunch of speedy Daphnia moving about the microcosm, which also made my day because I thought they, too, were adorable!  Although I was being as careful as I could be and was only removing the Wolffia for research purposes, I can’t help but think how the other invertebrates felt when they sensed an intruder tearing apart the ecosystem they thrived in.

Moving from a town of less than 3,000 people to a city of more than half a million is a kind of a culture shock and I think it can be easy to get caught up in the rush of the city life.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and I’ve had wonderful experiences living in the big city, but sometimes it’s nice to zoom in and focus on the smaller picture.  Looking at life from a different perspective is something we don’t often do, but if we do, it is truly something beautiful.  I hope we can see the beauty in everything we do out here this semester!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Jumping right in - Ellie Oberheu

I am Ellie Oberheu, a third year, religion major at Wartburg. I wanted to come out to Denver, CO because I wanted a different feel of jobs other than the Midwest style. I jumped right in with Rev. Diana Flahive. Diana is the CHUM (Capital Hill United Ministries) Community Minister. She is one of the founders and the director of WHI (Women’s Homelessness Initiative), which shelters twenty women each night at different churches in the Capital Hill neighborhood of Denver. There are 20 congregations involved with WHI and 14 open their doors, taking responsibility for different nights of the week. Through their volunteers, each site offers sanctuary, hospitality, a good meal, and a safe place to sleep. The women are brought to the church from the St. Francis Center. The SFC is a day shelter for people who are homeless. I am working with Diana to help serve the communities and programs of both CHUM and WHI. I have already connected with many of the community leaders and they are all great! I recently attended an annual CHUM picnic for the summer. It was good to hear about what all the other CHUM organizations were doing in Denver. I am already getting a good vibe from the Denver community. I cannot wait to see what else Denver has in store for the semester.