Sierra Fleenor '08
Director of College Access and Success for the State of Colorado Department of Higher Education and Freelance Writer
Cinema Studies and Classics Double Minor
Ever the liberal arts major, I fill my days with an amazing job working for the Colorado Department of Higher Education, a passion for writing literary fiction, and a keen interest in human development and social justice. My work life entails advocating for postsecondary access through a pilot program on four campuses in Colorado to provide wraparound services, including college advising, to low-income and first-generation college students. The goal is to create a replicable model for student success by measuring our impact on graduation rates. As a first-generation college graduate myself, I know how valuable my advisor, Professor David Weddle, was to me. If it weren’t for David, I wouldn’t have studied religion, wouldn’t have received my master of theological studies from Harvard Divinity School, and probably wouldn’t be where I am today. Strong advising in college not only helps first-generation college students graduate, but also helps put them on the right path (or paths) for their lives.
When I’m not working hard, I spend my time writing, reading, and learning as much as I can. Seeking to follow in the footsteps of great authors like James Baldwin who utilized his literary and non-fiction work to further the fight for equality and social justice, I continually push my bounds as an author.
“After I graduated, I was lucky enough to receive a Transition Fellowship which allowed me to travel to Chiapas, Mexico, to study liberation theology and work at a nonprofit that taught and fed indigenous children and children living on the street. After I completed that project, I traveled to Ireland and Scotland that same summer with the CC Chaplains’ Office to study Celtic pilgrimage. I can look back now and see that each of these experiences formed me as a scholar, a researcher, and a writer.”
Post-CC Block Plan benefits?
“The Block Plan taught me to work hard. I think the fact that I could be assigned a project on Tuesday and have to turn it in on Thursday (or even, Wednesday) showed me that good, strong work can be done at a rapid pace. I learned so much at CC, both academically and as a person. The value of my degree is far beyond description. I’m happier for the time I spent there, I’m smarter for it, and I trust myself more.”
While it can sometimes be daunting to be interested in so many different lines of work, a gift of the liberal arts education lies in finding the common theme that unites the many aspects of my life. And, in the next 40 years, I intend to do just that!