Written by Halle Brown, ESLLC 2017-2018
When I decided to attend the University of Denver, I also applied to the Environmental Sustainability Living and Learning Community and the Wellness Living and Learning Community. Brianna Johnson, the director of both communities, contacted me one afternoon just before graduation and let me know that I had been accepted to both and had to choose one. I selected the Environmental Sustainability Community (ESLLC) in a heartbeat because of my intense passion for the environment. I did not create as much of a difference on campus as I would have liked to through the ESLLC, but I made friends who I will love for a lifetime and experienced the natural wonders of Colorado.
I was placed randomly with Raegan Hasselbring as my roommate who is from Minnesota. We bonded instantly over our healthy lifestyles, love for the outdoors, and she didn’t mind that I brought in seven different house plants. We also made close friends with most of the students on our hall: Theo, Pepper, Jack, and Dylan to name a few. Immediately, they welcomed me and in many cases over the past year, have made me feel missed when I am away and loved when I come home. Many of us also became friends with members of the ESLLC in past years through a mentorship program which allowed us to receive advice on classes and social situations. Next year, Raegan and I will be rooming together again along with two other ESLLC members, Kate and Amanda. We look forward to having more adventures together.
As a part of the ESLLC, we go on a retreat in the mountains each quarter. The first two quarters, we spent two days or one, in regard to the winter retreat, at Mt. Evans research station. In the fall quarter, we camped from Friday to Saturday night and woke up Saturday morning to fluffy white snowflakes drifting down on our tents. We were supposed to volunteer with the Fourteeners Initiative doing trail restoration, but as we drove up to 13,000 feet, the fluffy snowflakes gave in to sharp wind and ice. Thus, our volunteer expedition was cancelled; but as we made the drive back down the mountain, our professor stopped off at various viewing points to lecture on subalpine ecosystems. Our winter retreat, unfortunately, went in the same direction. The spring retreat, however, was extremely successful. We camped in Buena Vista from Friday to Sunday and went rafting on Saturday. This was my first time whitewater rafting and I enjoyed yet another outdoor activity that Colorado offers. This past year, my friends also taught me to ski and partake in other winter sports that I am excited to further next year.
Overall, the ESLLC has provided me with a welcoming first year at the University of Denver and in Colorado. I have found a close group of friends who I can rely on to offer support and to relax and with which to spend time. Additionally, the ESLLC has opened doors to the many outdoor activities in the Colorado wilderness that have inspired me to appreciate the surrounding environments. In the future, I plan to be involved with the ESLLC as a mentor to provide as positive of an experience I had to incoming environmentally-aware students.