Williamstown has a lovely perpetual wallpaper in the mountains of the Berkshires. Western Kansas? Some cool sky sometimes, but it was remarkably flat, so slightly less exciting. Farm, fields, faraway distances between things, a bit boring of a drive. We missed the Colorado sign which was a bummer too.
Entering Colorado, Mike’s home for the fall as he works with High Trails Outdoor Education Center, the sky shifted to just a shade off the Toy Story sky blue, which was lovely. The mountains slowly rose in the distance, really putting Greylock to shame. It was beautiful and Mike sounded like a kid in a candy store with his unusually pronounced enthusiasm- think that face from the mozzarella sticks with “ooo rocks” every thirty seconds. Roads became a bit more windy, things were still far (totally East Coast people writing this), and we had our sights set on Denver for 3 alumni interviews and meeting Mike’s next boss. Naturally, Mike and Juan decided to pass time walking around the Botanic Garden while they waited for Kody, Mike’s new boss at High Trails Outdoor Education Center this fall. Juan was a bit bummed to see Mike sign paperwork for his new job, but there was overall excitement for what lies ahead. But before all that, there is still much of EotM to go!
The first interview of the Denver tour was Madeline Berky ‘10 (with special guest Huckleberry). We knew it was going to be amazing when we were offered cookies as soon as we walked through the door, which we could not decline in good conscience. Madeline talked to us about a whole host of topics: baking and how that led to her current partner, mental health and the intersection of finding your joys, personal struggles with whatever “success” is supposed to mean, being in a space of transition, writing a semi-autobiographical romance novel, and her discovery of a new movement practice called Animal Flow that has served as one of her communities. Food has served as a big release, love language, and community for Madeline, so naturally she sent us off with some pulled pork and cookies for the road.
Next, we met with Tamaan Osbourne-Roberts '99 at his home. Tamaan is trained as a family physician in a model that provides value-based healthcare, primarily focused on Spanish-speaking communities. Among other roles he's also served on the administrative and policy sectors of healthcare to help make things better and push for inclusion and access. Coming from a service oriented family, he described how people and kindness have kept him inspired throughout this journey. Among other things, Tamaan shared how he's found a space to connect with his local community through activities such as capoeira and carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. As we wrapped up our interview, Tamaan's wife, Camille Osbourne-Roberts '00, arrived with their two children and we were able to snap a few pics of this beautiful Eph couple right before we had to dash off to the mountains.
The third stop on our Denver tour was with Rebecca Beavers '93, a Coastal Geologist working out of Denver. We met at Panorama Point in Golden Gate Canyon State Park (after lots of driving around unsure where we were going and minimal signal) and were able to catch a GORGEOUS sunset. Truly a majestic sight. You can see some photos above, we should get to talking about the interview.
Rebecca and Mike connected over being Geosciences majors (shoutout to the department) and Rebecca’s work with the National Parks was an inspiration. The intersection of learning and caring about the environment and practice resonated on a personal level for Mike who hopes to enter this space. Even more inspiring is Rebecca’s work supporting trans youth in the local community as a big part of her identity and engagement in the surrounding area. She closed with a beautiful thank you to Bill Fox for getting her on the path and in the field. Mike hopes to connect again soon when he’s back in Colorado, and the adventurers hit the road once more to their campground for the evening. Nelly worked hard on these hills and earned some rest.
If there is one word to describe the interactions we’ve had so far it’s kindness. In this first week, we’ve met with about a dozen alums for interviews (not including at our hang out stops) and all of them have welcomed us with warmth and enthusiasm. Hearing about the little fan clubs we’ve gotten is inspiring, as is the show of support from everyone. People have shared food with us, space, offered us spots to crash if needed, invited us to use their showers (we try not to read into that, the campground showers aren’t too bad friends), told us to connect with them again should we ever come through again, and give us words of advice for our travels. Our alums truly care for one another and it’s an inspiration as we travel around. They’ve been a wonderful resource in our journey, and the “trail magic” is very real.
Hearts full and eyes heavy, we made it to Central City (complete with a 1:10 casino to person ratio) for an evening of rest before another day of interviews and a trip to a significant spot for Juan and Mike: Grand Junction, CO.