By Rey H. Sosa, Program Coordinator
It is with bittersweet emotion that after four years with Denver CALC I am leaving my role. I have accepted a position as a Community Planner for the City of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, where I will be working on their first ever comprehensive plan. While I am excited to take my planning career to the next level, I am incredibly sad to leave such a wonderful and supportive group of colleagues.
I would have never expected a short-term contract for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) work to turn into a four year career with the City and County of Denver. When I first joined the CALC team in the spring of 2019 I was still a full-time middle school teacher looking to make some extra money for the summer. My first assignments were bike rodeos at Lincoln Elementary in Wash Park and U Prep in Five Points. I was used to working with school children but I had no idea then just how different it was to work with children outside of the classroom and classroom instruction. As a math teacher I expected to see the kids disinterested in yet another educational activity, but instead I was taken aback by how much joy and interest they showed in learning about biking and their bikes. Seeing that happiness made me interested in working in SRTS, and from then forward my SRTS work expanded to other community events and schools.
Inspired by this experience I decided to apply for my Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning at CU Denver for the fall of 2020. As a full-time graduate student I continued to work with the CALC team while also attending school. I was able to leverage my role in CALC to tailor many of the classroom lessons and projects with the work I and my team were already doing at CALC, which allowed for a truly experiential learning experience at the intersection of urban planning and community engagement. The biggest example of this is my capstone on the Denver Connector, which doubled as research for understanding how the service is utilized and using that data to guide the expansion of it. After finishing graduate school I stayed on the Denver Connector project and had the chance to see the service expand into more neighborhoods.
Working with my CALC teammates, current and past, has been one of the best things of my seven years in Denver. I am so incredibly thankful and grateful to have had the chance to work with them on such meaningful projects, including the launch of the Micro-Grant program and virtual book clubs during the Safer at Home period of the pandemic. My time in Denver had meaning because of them and the work we do. While I will certainly have many more roles as my planning career progresses, I will always look back fondly to this team as the start of my planning career.
Thank you CALC for all the wonderful memories and good times