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Prepared for what’s next

CU Denver

Editor’s note: The Division of Student Affairs Twelve Commitments grew out of conversations between Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Raul Cardenas, PhD, and his leadership team as they discussed and attempted to identify the ideal CU Denver student experience. Throughout the year, we’re examining each of the commitments our division staff makes to our students in “The Connection” newsletter. If you don’t have your own copy of the commitments yet, you can find them online in color and in office printer friendly black and white.

As we’ve progressed through the year and examined each of the division’s Twelve Commitments, we’ve 
explored items as diverse as philanthropy and volunteerism, graduation, learning communities and accessible information. But, somehow, when taken as a whole, they all fit together remarkably well. The commitments were developed to guide each of us as individuals and as a united division to provide our students with the ideal experience, inspiring them to remain at CU Denver and to graduate or continue their educational careers and become successful in whatever career they choose.

Successful steps after graduation
The 11th commitment speaks to getting students ready for that ultimate career success in a simple way. It says we make a commitment to prepare students for next steps after graduation.

“We have great career resources within the division and across campus,” said Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Raul Cardenas, PhD, “but, so many of our students don’t utilize them. It’s important that we help them make those connections. We can also assist with their complete education and preparation by showing them how their personal and professional talents are intertwined and encouraging them to use them.” 

Committed to guidance 
Among the many support services available to students are the Office of Veteran and Military Student Services (VMSS), TRiO Student Support Services and the Career Center. The Connection asked several of our colleagues from those areas how the Twelve Commitments and our commitment to prepare students for next steps after graduation guide them and their co-workers in their daily work. 

Rebecca Martinez is the Career Center’s employer outreach and recruitment coordinator. She’s been with CU Denver for three years.

“To me, the Twelve Commitments help me to connect with the big picture of what we do at CU Denver,” Martinez writes. “The list reminds me that we all play a vital role in creating an inviting and open learning community for both students and staff. 

​“My goal as the employer outreach and recruitment coordinator, to help students connect with employment opportunities that make their college experience worthwhile, is a direct reflection of our 11th commitment. Many students go to college to increase their opportunities for the future, but they’re not quite sure what they want their future to look like. That’s where the Career Center steps in, to prepare them for their next career steps after graduation. We support students throughout their journey regardless of where they are in the process. Some students know exactly what they want to do with their degree, while others are still in the early stages of exploration and haven’t even determined a major. Our goal is to help students be more knowledgeable and feel more confident in their next steps.”

Teresa De Herrera is the director of TRiO Student Support Services and has been with the university since 2006. TRiO helps students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education and provides support to increase college retention and graduation rates. 

“TRiO Student Support Services helps make our students’ dreams come true,” writes De Herrera. “Preparing our students for the next steps after graduation is very important to us. While our goal is to help our students stay in school and graduate, there’s more to it. We want them to be well prepared for what’s next. It could be a career, graduate school or a professional school. Whatever it is, that next successful stop is what they’ve been working towards in their time here at CU Denver. To that end, we work one-on-one with students, provide workshops and collaborate with other staff and faculty around campus providing additional workshops that will better prepare them for graduate or professional school. 

“We take students on campus visits to other institutions of higher learning, including the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where they can learn more and connect with staff who will further assist them successfully apply for graduate school.  We also collaborate with the Career Center and Experiential Learning Center to assist students with career preparation processes, like updating resumes.

“It really warms my heart when alumni come back to visit or write to update us about all the wonderful things they’re doing in their careers. Knowing that our TRiO staff had a part in helping make those dreams possible is the greatest gift I’ve received from my years of working in higher education and with the TRiO programs. Additionally, I now have many professional colleagues at CU Denver who are alumni of our program and I know I can call on them when I need their assistance supporting one of our current participants. When that happens, we’ve come full circle, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Patrick Browne is an Army veteran who served in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He’s the director of the Office of Veteran & Military Student Services (VMSS) and has been with CU Denver for more than six years. We thank him for his service. 

“The division’s Twelve Commitments serve as a great road map,” writes Browne. “The commitments provide us with a unified approach to the ways we serve and support our students. 

“The 11th commitment in particular, to prepare students for next steps after graduation, motivates me to dedicate myself and encourage others in the office to achieve the common goal of student success for service members, veterans and their families. We’re proud of the positive transition and support programs we’ve created here. We provide support to our students while they transition into academics, help increase their graduation success rate and assist them in achieving placement in their chosen career following graduation. Every step in the process builds on the step before it, leading to the day our student veterans successfully transition from campus to career and enhance the workplace with their unique diversity of experience.”


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