"I sleep well at night knowing I’m helping people," says Wendy Abeyta Bulow ’94, a physician’s assistant at Pueblo Community Health Center in Colorado.
Like Bulow, many Colorado College alumni have found that the key to a happy and fulfilling work (and sleep) life is to labor in the service of others. While the decision to work for a
There is no such thing as a typical day at Pueblo Community Health Center. Bulow may see up to 20 patients with illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, or chronic pain. Since the clinic provides primary health care for Pueblo’s medically underserved population, many patients lack insurance, making it difficult to obtain specialty care for those who need it. Bulow says she loves being able to concentrate on her patients’ care, rather than worrying about the bottom line as she would have to do if she were in private practice.
A psychology major, Bulow recalls the emphasis CC placed on community service. “There were plenty of opportunities to get involved. I helped out with Special Olympics and volunteered at a rehab facility.” But equally important was the encouragement she received to pursue a career in health care from professors Catherine Weir, John Horner, and Bruce Kola, as well as the staff of Boettcher Health Center. Bulow says Beth Holtby, now assistant director of Boettcher, was an important role model. Holtby — a physician’s assistant (PA) with many years’ experience in emergency medicine, family practice, and college health care — invited Bulow to see firsthand what the life of a PA was really like, and helped her make contacts to get into a PA graduate program.
“A Perfect Fit”
For Badge Blackett ’76, a CC freshman seminar called Railroads in Colorado was the inspiration that sent him on a lifelong quest to understand the world better by learning about the land. A career at the Trust for Public Land (TPL) ensued; Blackett says of his job, “I’m so lucky to do this. It couldn’t be a more perfect fit.” He negotiates real estate transactions on behalf of public agencies that want to acquire properties for parks and conservation use.
“Public agencies are under enormous fiscal pressure, and they rarely have someone on staff who can negotiate land transactions, research title and survey information, and help raise money to purchase the land. TPL can do that and ensure that land is conserved for people to enjoy,” says Blackett.
Positioning Oneself for Service
When Betsy Turecky Alden ’64 attended CC, she was a married student who didn’t spend a lot of time doing club work or campus community service activities. Instead, she focused hard on her education and devoted herself to preparing for her career. “I had always had the impetus to do community service. At CC, I got serious about academics.” Alden especially loved the liberal arts. “I can put together a great brochure, but I’m also well-versed in history, art, literature.”
Alden obtained degrees in English, theology, and religious education, and became a United Methodist minister in 1974. The combination of her personal desire to serve others and her well-rounded education prepared her for a career as a minister and a service-learning education pioneer. While teaching at the University of New Mexico, she created the Praxis Project, a service-learning model replicated at more than 100 campuses across the country. (Praxis is Aristotle’s word for the action/reflection model of education, “learning by doing.”) Alden now is coordinator of service learning at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
Spencer Bonnie ’96 says the relationships he built at CC with professors and classmates influenced him to go into nonprofit, community work. “I met so many amazing people who inspired me to follow my dreams,” he says. “While I was at CC, I started working summers at a YMCA camp and realized that my real love was working with young people.” His CC advisor helped him see that, although his major was biology, he didn’t have to limit his career choices to that area. Bonnie now works for the YMCA of the USA in Green Bay, Wis., where he is coordinator of IMPACTPLUS, a project that engages young people across the nation in community service
Encouragement to Serve
Elizabeth Parker Rouse ’55 grew up in a family of “modest means” in Illinois, and says, “You watched out for those in need; I guess that’s where my interest in nonprofits came from.” Rouse, now retired, was director of education for the Kennedy Foundation and worked in development for the National Head Injury Foundation, organizations that help disabled people with their struggles. “The salary is low, the expectation of your output is very high, and my expectation of those who worked for me was always very high too. You don’t think about 9-5 or 8-4; you always work beyond the day. That’s a different mindset from the corporate world. Maybe it’s innate.”
At CC in the ’50s, Rouse’s tendency to want to help those in need was reinforced, she says. Female students unaffiliated with sororities could volunteer in the community. “There wasn’t a rule that anyone had to; we just had a mindset that we really ought to be helping those around us.”
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