Published: April 23, 2024

By Iris Serrano
Photos by Kimberly Coffin (CritMedia, StratComm’18)

For a high school-aged Curtis Esquibel, J-Day was more than just a field trip—it was his first look at what it takes to be successful in journalism.

While he’s no longer a newsman, Esquibel (Jour’99) said J-Day—where he got to see the University of Colorado Boulder campus and meet professionals in the field—led him to enroll in journalism and was a foundational experience for his career in the nonprofit world.

“The communications, journalism and media fields are part art, part science and a profession that will always matter,” said Esquibel, senior director of communications and community engagement at the Boettcher Foundation. “For me, J-Day helped plant the seed for that understanding.”

Now, after more than 20 years, J-Day is returning to CU Boulder.

J-Day was created by the Colorado Student Media Association to teach students the skills it takes to run publications like yearbooks and newspapers, including interviewing, photography and storytelling. But it outgrew its Boulder home—more than 1,000 students attend each year—and left CU in 2002.

“The communications, journalism and media fields are part art, part science and a profession that will always matter. For me, J-Day helped plant the seed for that understanding.”
Curtis Esquibel (Jour’99), senior director, Boettcher Foundation

It’s a great time for the event to return to Boulder because of how the journalism industry is evolving—and how CU is evolving with it, including the 2015 creation of the College of Media, Communication and Information, home to the university’s Department of Journalism. Since coming to CMCI, journalism has moved from a curriculum with defined tracks tied to platforms to a more complete multimedia education that allows students the freedom to find their interest within the field.

“It's almost like a choose-your-own-adventure with students—you can go where your passion is,” said Patrick Ferrucci, associate professor and chair of CMCI’s journalism department.

One visible example is the college’s popular sports media minor, which has grown to host an annual summit and add a new course, Prime Time: Public Performance and Leadership, with guest lectures from Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders and other notable athletes and media personalities.

A complete look at storytelling

J-Day at CU also will be different because it will incorporate all of CMCI’s majors. From media production to information science, students attending will see a bit of everything that goes into storytelling.

CMCI staff answer questions of advisors and students at J-Day.“Journalism includes telling stories in a more interesting, intriguing and immersive way to get people to care about something, to change their habits or whatever you're trying to do with your story,” said Shelby Javernick, director of student recruitment and outreach at CMCI. “Within our college, there's a lot of overlap with journalism—everything connects.”

Apart from seeing CMCI, students will also get exposure to the campus and community, including student publications like The Bold, Radio 1190, Sko Buffs Sports and CU Independent. Javernick said she hopes this will make them more comfortable seeing themselves in college.

“I'm excited for students who don't see either college or CU Boulder as an option to understand that CMCI is this very welcoming, inclusive, belonging space,” Javernick said. “Connecting students with our faculty will be helpful, because there are so many opportunities for connection and mentorship.” 

Those connections are why Esquibel said it’s fitting that the event is returning to CU Boulder.

“The journalism and media ecosystem is vast—and the opportunity to network with professionals who work for different types of organizations and fellow students is the sweet spot of the profession,” Esquibel said. “Building relationships in this field is particularly important because there is always so much to learn.”